GEMA/HS Explosive Ordinance Detection K-9 Teams keep attendees safe at the 2019 Masters Golf Tournament
(AUGUSTA) - The Masters is arguably the biggest tournament in professional golf, with thousands of golf fanatics and celebrities flocking to the rolling fairways at Augusta National Golf Course in Georgia. At the 2019 Master’s Tournament this week, the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency’s Explosive Ordinance Detection K-9 teams from all over the state are out in full force, ensuring the safety and security of players and golf fans in attendance.
“All these teams working are experienced handlers and K-9s who have worked multiple special events for the state and have worked the Super Bowl,” said Tod Keys, GEMA/HS EOD K-9 Program Manager. “Some of them have even worked multiple Masters tournaments.”
This year, ten EOD K-9 teams from the Richmond Co. Sheriff’s Office, University of Georgia Police Department, Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office, Camden County Sheriff’s Office, Henry County Sheriff’s Office, Chatham County Sheriff’s Office and the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office assisted in this large scale event.
While the grounds crew are busy ensuring the grass is perfectly green and those famous azaleas are blooming, the K-9 teams are working 24/7 during the 10-day event, conducting security sweeps of vehicles coming into the course, sweeping buildings with high traffic, and on standby to assist with strike teams in the event of a bomb threat.
According to Keys, working security at Masters requires teams to work longer hours and at a higher pace than other venues, like Mercedes Benz Stadium.
“Usually, events at Mercedes Benz Stadium mean 15-hour days for the teams,” he said. “Those are long days, but the grounds at the Masters are so expansive that it requires more time and flexibility from the teams to adjust to any situation given the unique nature of the event.”
Though they are working long hours throughout the tournament, if you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of these K-9s and their handlers on the course, you’re out of luck. Security sweeps start early in the day before patrons make their way through the gates and they keep a low profile throughout the day, accomplishing their mission behind the scenes.
“People may not see us working, but rest assured we are there, making sure people can enjoy the event safely,” said Keys.