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Monday, April 8, 2013 - 1:41am

Masters Week Begins, Housing Packed

Practice rounds for the Masters Tournament begin Monday at Augusta National Golf Club. The world’s best golfers are in town, along with thousands of spectators, and it’s been a banner year for housing rentals in the tournament’s host city.

Earlier this year, the Masters Housing Bureau was seeing double the interest in private-home rentals from a year ago after a weak economy drove down demand for several years.

Corporate Quarters serves mostly companies looking for a home or multiple homes to rent for the Masters. Owner and President Diane Starr said they’re very close to booking as many homes as their best year ever.

“[Renters] are coming back in bigger numbers. I’m almost concerned that Augusta just doesn’t have enough nice, big homes,” Starr said. That’s what everybody’s looking for – five- and six-bedroom homes. We’re building them as fast as we can, but they are in big demand.”

Starr said the boom is due to a better economy and to a certain top-ranked golfer entering the tournament having just won the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

“Tiger [Woods is] doing well. People are always going to want to see if he’s going to be able to pull it and get back to his old self, and I do think that coming into this tournament with a win is huge,” Starr said. “It does make the excitement a little bit bigger.”

The Masters injects as much as $150 million into Augusta’s economy each year.

Starr said she typically has people call even after the tournament starts looking for a house to rent. And she has homeowners who drop off their keys just in case that happens.