What You Need to Know About The Masters

I first went to the Masters a few years ago after finally scoring some tickets to a Tuesday practice round (I detailed my trip here).  Considering how long it took me to get down there for my first round, God has smiled down and blessed me with tickets to every year since.  I’m heading down tomorrow morning with Mrs. RCS, and can’t wait.  We’ve actually never been before, but I lucked out in the wife department – she loves The Masters (almost) as much as I do.

I absolutely love The Masters.  While there isn’t one thing about it that stands out, I would say it’s the intentional focus on TRADITION that makes The Masters so great.  As soon as you walk through the gates, it’s impossible to tell the year until you see the dated hats in the merchandise tent.  You will see no neon, no corporate sponsorships, and no azaleas NOT in bloom.

I try to resist “The South” stuff on this blog, as it’s so overplayed, but it’s appropriate here: for a lot of us Georgians, The Masters is our tournament.  It’s like we all put on our Sunday best for the rest of the golf world to show how we like to do it.  Whether it was Hootie’s or Billy Payne’s drawl when officially opening tournament play with the first shot, or the watchful eye of other patrons to ensure that all the blades of grass are in place, there is a sense of pride at The Masters.  Some idiot with scream “you da man” ONCE, and the reaction from the gallery is like someone just cussed in church.  Out loud.  We respect the tournament as much as we respect Augusta National.

I’ve heard stories about golf course superintendents getting a chance to work The Masters, and they ended up driving food around the course…and not complaining one bit.  It’s all about the honor of being associated with the best of the best.  Think of it like an unpaid internship in Buffet’s office at Berkshire.

So here is what you need to know about The Masters:

1  Don’t bring your phone.  I know the rules say you can bring a camera to the practice rounds, and while your iPhone has a camera, it’s also a phone, and at Augusta, they don’t care.  Yes, I’ve heard about a few folks getting their smartphones in, but I’ve heard more stories about phones being confiscated.  Why take the risk?
2. (For practice round patrons) Bring a camera.  I assure you they will become some of your most cherished images.  I will bring my Fuji, and I’m sure Mrs. RCS will bring our very old Sureshot.  I guarantee we’ll get 100+ images that we’ll cherish for years.
3. Don’t bring a purse.  Ladies – bring a tiny clutch or bag and that’s it.  You don’t need a giant Goyard to walk around Augusta.  You are limited to a 10x10x12 bag.  Remember – you’ll get a big clear bag from the Merchandise tent, so use that to carry your stuff.
4. Dress appropriately.  Guys: ‘subtle’ should be your guiding light.  You are not playing, so don’t wear the latest in tech gear.  DO NOT wear golf shoes, because you’ll look like an idiot.  There isn’t any standing water on the course, so unless you plan on swimming, your feet don’t need Gore Tex.  Caddies don’t even wear golf shoes.  And don’t wear Masters stuff to the Masters.  We get it, Chief – you’ve been before.  You’ll be walking quite a bit, so keep that in mind.  Me?  I go with a nice golf shirt, a good pair of shorts, some comfortable shoes – I usually wear my New Balance 1300s.  I’m pretty excited to sport my new Peachtree Golf Club Smathers and Branson belt.  Depending on the temperature, I’ll wear a quarter-zip pullover and just take it off once it gets more comfortable.  Sunglasses are a must.  Ladies – blow it out.  I’m not going to say a word about wearing the latest Lilly ensemble with sandals to go walk miles and miles.  You be you.
5. Bring sunscreen.  We are just coming out of winter, so most of us are a pasty shade of mayonnaise.  Put a travel-sized tube in your pocket.  Get covered.
6. Save the Cups.  Everyone loves the dated Masters cups.  You know which ones I’m talking about: clear for tea, green for beer.  Not too many, though…four or six is enough.
7. Eat Well.  Remember – food at The Masters is VERY inexpensive.  How does a pimento cheese sandwich, a bag of chips, a moonpie, and a sweet tea sound?  Good right?  Well, you can have all that for less than $6.  And it is the best pimento cheese in the world (apologies to Husk).
8. See it all.  Personally, I prefer going to practice rounds, as it’s a much more relaxed environment.  We’ll get there tomorrow morning and basically walk the whole course.  With players on the course, that will take a casual couple of hours.  After that, go watch them skip balls across the lake on 16.  Go watch the second shot on 15.  Go watch a par 3.  Go people-watch at the clubhouse and putting green.
9. If possible, group up and get a van or some sort of driver.  I’m 100% aware that this is/could be cost prohibitive, but I’ve driven, and I’ve had a driver, and it sure is nice being able to relax for a few hours heading back to Atlanta.  While it might be too late now, but here’s how you do it:  Post a message on Facebook like this: “I’ve got Masters badges for (day), and I’d like to get a van and driver.  Anyone else with (same day) badges interested in grouping up?”.  It is guaranteed to work.
10. Most importantly – Be Polite.  I shouldn’t have to say this, but remember that badges to The Masters are almost impossible to get.  A lot of people have been waiting YEARS to be a bonafide patron at The Masters.  They are checking this off the bucket list.  Be a nice person at The Masters – to everyone.  Offer your seat, offer to snap a picture for someone, don’t be in a hurry, and say please and thank you.

Writing this post literally makes me giddy.  I can’t wait to set foot on Augusta National.  What about you?  Anyone heading down this week?  What’s some Masters advice you’d share?

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11 Comments

  1. Lou
    04/03/2016 / 9:18 AM

    Getting a driver is a great idea. Check out Skedaddle (https://www.letskedaddle.com) – looks like you can charter a private coach bus for ~$30 per person each way.

  2. PJ
    04/03/2016 / 9:38 AM

    I’ll be making my first trip for tomorrow’s practice round tomorrow. It’s like Christmas Eve.

  3. PLFIII
    04/03/2016 / 9:41 AM

    Great read and greatest event of the year. I would add to limit all Masters gear to zero during the week of. Everyone at the office remembers you went last year and people at the bar/party don’t care that you stood “right there” next to Annie Verret. Well, maybe, but don’t broadcast it…

  4. Nolan
    04/03/2016 / 10:15 AM

    Can I wear my Chambers Bay stuff? Just kidding 🙂 I’m going tomorrow and I don’t even have a ticket yet. The hardest part is finding a place to stay. We came last year basically all because of your original article! As I sit in the RV here in Augusta watching Saved By The Bell on WJBF, I can only wonder what tomorrow will bring. I hope if anyone is reading this that they please make it to The Masters before they die. Don’t forget to blow a $1000 in the Merchandise Building. Sure that seems crazy now…but wait until you get here! It’s like you’re on a golf version of Supermarket Sweep!!

  5. Jared
    04/03/2016 / 10:54 AM

    One of the best places to get close to the players that is little-known is the Teebox on hole 11

    It’s a little bit of a hike to get there but well worth it. On the way there you can stop by hole 10 and see were Bubba hit that ridiculous shot a few years ago

  6. WS
    04/03/2016 / 11:44 AM

    Great advice on people watching at clubhouse / putting green. Especially true around lunchtime. Legends of the game under those umbrella on practice round days.

    Pack your patience for the merch building. Organized chaos.

    Go stand off the green at 16 and replay Tiger’s chip and Verne’s call in your head. “Oh my goodness… Oh Wow! Have you ever in your life!?!?”

  7. KJC
    04/03/2016 / 1:34 PM

    Most fun is Par 3 tournament on Wednesday. The Mr. is going on Friday but taking a client this year so I don’t have to come up with an outfit. They’re staying in Madison, about halfway from Mayretta.

    I’ll probably make egg salad just so I don’t feel left out.

  8. 04/04/2016 / 11:28 AM

    Enjoy your first trip to Augusta! I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a few times and have loved every moment (even the rain soaked ones). My suggestions are very similar to yours with a few tweaks.

    1) Thank the volunteers. They are all very awesome people and will help you or guide you should you need it. Plus, sometimes they’ll snap a picture for you in the cross-walk and those are great shots that not many people get.

    2) Walk the golf course backwards. If you get there early enough, you can start on 18 green and go in reverse and that way you’re not fighting the crowds to see things because you’re moving the opposite direction. So if you can, get out and walk the entire course, pick a few good spots you want to see again, and then circle back to the places you’d like to hang out for a little while. (This way you’ve also seen the entire course and it saves you the horror of going but not seeing Amen Corner if there is a rain delay and people have to leave the course.)

    3) Grab a pairings sheet and course booklet. They help! Yes they are “super-touristy” but you never know when you need a map of the closest beer stand or need to know who that guy is that’s wearing purple glen plaid pants and playing with your favorite guy. Plus, they make good souvenirs for someone if you don’t want to part with a Master’s cup or buy them a hat.

    4) Try the entire menu!! As the original post mentions, the food is inexpensive. Plus, some of the things on the menu are only available there and they taste that much better because its “Master’s” brand…i.e.the ice cream sandwiches & moonpies.

    5) In regards to #4, make yourself a “Patron.” My friends and I invented this guy one trip and it is a must have when we go. Step 1, buy one of the following a pimento cheese and a bbq sandwich (optional bbq potato chips as well); step 2, take the top slice off of the pimento cheese and the bbq sandwiches; step 3, use the slice off of the pimento sandwich to slide the pimento cheese onto the bbq sandwich (optional to add the potato chips for some added crunch); step 4, re-top your bbq sandwich and enjoy. Also noteworthy, this sandwich pairs exceptionally well with a green-cup “import beer” and a Master’s moon-pie.

    6) Enjoy every moment! After all, you’re at Augusta.

  9. WGU
    04/04/2016 / 12:34 PM

    I’m a Georgian born and raised but attend school in Arkansas now. I’m dying to know if you have any advice on how to get tickets? It’s eating me alive year after year. Thanks RCS.

  10. Nolan Reagan
    04/06/2016 / 9:02 AM

    WGU,

    Normally, I’d say just go….you’ll find a ticket. Wel, this year the brokers wanted $600 for Monday practice round!!!! I find those prices insane. It’s against the rules but you can buy a ticket off someone who’s scanned their ticket out. This can get you arrested as this can’t happen closer than 2700 feet from AGNC property.

    I’d say keep entering that lotto and just come here next year. It’s a tough ticket but remember have a good attitude and good things will happen. Enjoy yourself next year!

    • WGU
      04/06/2016 / 11:23 AM

      Nolan,

      I greatly appreciate the input, sir! I’ll definitely enjoy it from home this year, and I’ll continue to keep my fingers crossed for the future. What a dream come true that would be!

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