Recession even hits scalpers at the Masters golf tournament

You know the economy is in trouble when the Masters is hurting.

OK, not the tournament itself. Golf's annual rite of spring is humming along as usual, with anticipation building over the return to major–championship competition of Tiger Woods, fresh off his recent victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

When the gates along Augusta's Washington Road opened Monday for three days of practice rounds, the usual crowds poured through to see Woods, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and the rest – and, of course, the pristine golf course that brings them there.

But outside "The National," signs of a battered business model – accommodations, entertainment and even that usually ironclad investment, tickets – are everywhere.

Masters tournament badges – with a face value of $200 for four days (up $25 from 2008) – are available on eBay Inc.'s StubHub. Not only available, but "going for about half of what the prices were in years past," StubHub spokesman Sean Pate said.

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