Going in Green at the Masters

DSC03616.JPG

green

adjective

1. of the color between blue and yellow in the spectrum; colored like grass or emeralds.

2. the color of Augusta National Golf Club

3. (of a person) inexperienced, naive, or gullible.

At the recommendation of my brother-in-law, who loves golf, I signed up for the ticket lottery for the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. To our surprise, we won the option to buy four Monday practice round tickets ($75 pp) on our first try. This is kind of a big deal. Tickets can be elusive and expensive.

Admittedly, when it comes to sports we are not experts. We are bandwagon fans, we love a good story and rooting for the underdog. The Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament have a ton of history and tradition making it easy to get caught up in the display and grandeur.

The course is just as immaculate and beautiful as everyone says. We had to touch the grass to make sure it was real. Not a blemish or brown patch in sight. We couldn’t tell if Augusta National has taken tips from Disney or vice-versa. Everything was perfect and in place and everyone was friendly and helpful.

There are also several surprising advantages to attending a practice day over a tournament day. While you can not take cell phones in on any day at the Masters, you can take a personal camera on practice days. And the course is so photogenic. Find an azalea shrub and snap away.

You also don’t have to worry about being vewy, vewy quiet on practice days. While it’s still courteous to tone it down while a golfer is driving and putting, the environment is definitely more relaxed and party-like.

Additionally, you’ll get to see the pros goof off on the 16th hole as they try and skip their ball across the water hazard and on to the green. Any golfer who does not attempt this will promptly be booed by the audience.

Tickets might be pricey but the concessions are VERY affordable. Two sandwiches, a beer, a lemonade, and some sweet treats were a grand total of $9.50. At a $1.50 each, why not have four pimento cheese sandwiches?

DSC03581.JPG

And since we are Drink Sanford, let’s talk about the available beverages which were all served in souvenir cups. Plenty of soft drinks and lemonade were available as well as three beers - Miller Lite, Shock Top, and Heineken. While we would have liked to have seen a more craft and local beer on tap, we can certainly understand the logistics for that could be incredibly difficult. The Masters does not release attendance numbers but we estimated that 50,000 people attend per day - that would be A LOT of beer for a smaller brewery.

But what we saved in concessions we gave right back at the gift shop. This year they had an all-new gift shop with most anything you could imagine. Keychains, dog leashes, anything they can put a logo on. All official merchandise is only available at the gift shop. You’ll pay a pretty penny for the bags of hats we saw people walk out with to sell on eBay.

  It's Tiger Woods, ya'll!

It's Tiger Woods, ya'll!

All-in-all if you’re able to “win” or snap up a couple of tickets to the Masters then GO. Go for the pomp and circumstance, for the pimento cheese sandwiches, to sip a glass of lemonade in Amen Corner, and to see a Tiger claw his way out of a sand trap. Whether you’re a fan of the sport or not it’s an experience not to be missed.

First-timer tips

  • Go for a practice round! Practice round days are more loose and lively. And you can take a personal camera (no phones). 
  • Go early. There’s free parking on site. 
  • Go to the gift shop. Even if there’s a long line it moves very quickly. And this is the only place to get official gear and souvenirs. The store may sell out towards the end of the week. Although if you just want a cap there are several stands throughout the course where these are available.
  • Check the boards. On practice days check the boards periodically to see who is expected to show and when they’re going to start.
  • Enjoy a seat. You can purchase fold-up Masters chairs ($30 each) and set them at the hole of your choosing - for the entire day! Simply place your business card on the back and they won’t be touched. Feel free to wander the course and then come back and sit a spell. And don’t get nasty if someone is sitting in your seat when you get back - everyone is courteous and will move upon your return.
  • Hole-up at #16. Watch players skip balls across the water hazard and then turn around to watch them tee off at 17.
  • Stay hydrated and don’t drink a lot of beer. While there’s plenty available and it’s relatively cheap, don’t overdo it on the alcohol and keep your behaviour in-check even on practice days. The lemonade is very tasty!
  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. We were a little surprised to learn there isn’t a dress code for the Masters. But don’t wear your sweats and holey t-shirt. Wear what you might wear on the golf course with comfortable shoes. You’ll do a lot of walking. Be mindful of the weather and take sunscreen.
  • Book accommodations early. Augusta’s accommodations can fill up quickly. Check for Airbnbs or VRBOs in the vicinity as many residents rent out their homes for the week. Columbia, SC is an hour away and has good accommodations. We were very fortunate to stay with family.
  Vijay Singh doing his thing

Vijay Singh doing his thing