The US Masters is golf’s pinnacle event. As well as being golf’s biggest tournament each year it is also one of the most famous sporting events in the world. Played each year in April at the impeccable Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, Georgia, the Masters is an event held in an unmatched setting and combines incredible service, courtesy and hospitality with some of the greatest golfers playing for the ultimate prize - the famous green jacket.
When asked to describe the experience of attending the US Masters, everyone who has been (including this writer) uses the word ‘indescribable’. Words simply do not do the course or event justice on how special this tournament truly is. The Augusta greens keepers painstakingly manicure this famous golf course to deliver near perfect golfing conditions for players and spectators to enjoy. There is no blade of grass out of place, magnolias are in full bloom and the contrast between the green fairways and the white bunkers are spectacular.
Below are 10 must dos (in no particular order) that you should experience when you attend The Masters.
1. Attend Wednesday’s Par 3 Contest
Always an entertainment-filled afternoon on the northeast corner of the Augusta National property, the annual Par 3 contest mixes elite golf with family fun. See the best golfers in the world in a much more relaxed & casual environment, with many players having their wives, girlfriends and kids as their caddies. Past greats including Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Tom Watson also get involved with the Golden Bear’s (Jack Nicklaus) grandson providing the highlight of 2018’s contest, hitting a hole in one on the 9th hole.
2. Make the Most of the Practice Rounds
As cameras are not allowed on course during the tournament, it is well worth attending a practice round. On Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday, players head out on course to play a casual nine holes and it provides a great opportunity to take photos while crowds are smaller and you can get up close and personal. Plus you can prove to family and friends that you did actually attend the Masters.
Additionally, you can go to all the famous spots where players have made historic shots in the past and marvel at just how they pulled them off under the most intense pressure. Go behind the 16th green to where Tiger chipped in, propelling himself into his playoff victory in 2005. Walk down the 10th and enter the trees where Bubba Watson somehow hooked a wedge 50 yards onto the green to win his first Masters. Lastly for the Aussies, stand on the bank next to the 10th green and reenact Adam Scott’s famous arm raise when he was the first Australian to win the green jacket in 2013.
3. Buy a Seat
One of the most famous traditions at Augusta is the seating. Seats are available for purchase from the Merchandise tent for a surprisingly low price of $29. The famous foldable little green seats can be placed at any spot on the course (do this as early in the day as you can). If you decide to wander away for hours, when you return your chair will be there just as you left it. It is worth mentioning any unattended seat (including yours) may be sat in by anyone, however when the owner of that seat returns you must relinquish the seat and move on. It is classic Masters civility. A couple of spots that I may suggest for you to place your seat at is definitely Amen Corner on any of the first three days and 18th green on Sunday. It is definitely worth standing in the cold darkness at the entry gates before the sun rises to see the last group come up last fairway.
4. Take Some Georgia Pine Needles Home
What makes the Masters so visually appealing on the eye is the colour contrasts all over the course. Pristine green grass, white sandy bunkers, flowers in full bloom and the famous brown Georgia pine needles are as well known as anything on the famous property. Many famous shots have been hit off the slippery tree droppings, none greater than Phil Mickleson’s second shot on the par 5 13th to 5 feet on his way to his 2010 Masters triumph. Why not take home a handful of famous Georgia pine needles to proudly display behind your bar? Slip them into your shoe or pocket and boastfully proclaim to everyone when watching the tournament in future years that you have a piece (or pieces) of the famous course in your very own home.
5. Spend Plenty in the Masters Shop
Its not every year that you get to attend the Masters, in fact, you may only get to go once in your life. Therefore it is important that you make the most out of your experience when at Augusta National. A part of that experience is to bring home an abundance of merchandise. The Masters Shop has everything - from socks & jocks to polo’s & jumpers and a massive amount of souvenirs, it is hard not to buy it all. If you’re thinking it may be hard to buy all these goods and lug it around the course with you all day- no need to worry. As soon as you have been through the very friendly registers, you have the option to store away all your freshly bought gifts or even ship it directly to your front door at home. They really do go over and above to make sure you have the best experience possible.
6. Make the most of the cheap concessions
In Australia especially, we complain about how much it costs to go to a sporting event. From ticket prices to what we pay for food and drink at the game, these expenses have been widely regarded as too dear. You may have paid an arm and a leg to actually get in the door at the Masters, but once inside, patrons won’t be breaking the bank. In fact, for the most famous food item at Augusta, a Pimento Cheese Sandwich, you will pay a miserly $1.50. For those looking to have a few beers throughout the day, you can enjoy a domestic beer for just $4 or an imported beer for $5. This is another tradition that those in charge are proud of and can’t see changing for a long time if at all. Fair enough too, given the exorbitant amount patrons are paying to get through the gate.
7. Get a Photo in Front of The Clubhouse
Those who stand in the crisp, cool air before the gates open at sunrise will tell you there is a lot of time between putting down your seat at your favourite spot on course and seeing the first players tee off. One suggestion that I have to kill some time is to get a free photo in front of the clubhouse. Taken by a professional photographer, you will receive a gift card allowing you to download the photo when you arrive back home. Perfect for everyone, but especially those who are only attending on competition days (where cameras are prohibited). It is here too where Magnolia Lane meets the famous clubhouse. Players famously say when arriving at Augusta National they are teased for hundreds of meters before emerging from the Magnolia Trees to cast their eyes on the white clubhouse for the first time.
8. Watch Players Warm Up
Unless you are directly behind the player when they are hitting their shot on the course, it can often be difficult to marvel at how far the professional player hits the ball. Why not get the best vantage point before the hit off and witness them at the range? Augusta National has one of the best warm up/practice ranges in all of golf. Also spectator friendly, it is a must-do at some point in your Masters experience. With a mini grandstand down the length of the driving range, you can see the best players in the world hit monstrous drives, precise wedges and practice shots they will need to execute out on the course. Just the sound of the ball coming off the club face will leave you speechless.
9. Honorary Starters/Green Jacket Presentations
For those with a Thursday or Sunday badge (or both), the honorary tee shots on Thursday morning and the green jacket ceremony at the back of 18th green are must attend ceremonies. Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player are currently the two who have the honour of hitting the first tee shots of the tournament each year. Often in front of hundreds if not thousands of people who line the first tee and fairway to see two legends of golf, it really is one of the highlights of the week.
The Butler Cabin presentation, seen around the world on television, is sometimes referred to as being a bit too manufactured. After the TV proceedings though, a more elaborated awards presentation occurs beside the 18th green. This gathering and presentation has a much longer history than the television segment in Butler Cabin. Another tradition steeped in history, the previous winner drapes the newly crowned champion with his green jacket to wear proudly.
10. Listen Out for the Roars
There is a famous saying that reads, “The Masters doesn’t start until the back 9 on Sunday.” Although this may not be factually correct, it is when the biggest roars come. It’s difficult to explain the noise drifting in and out of the trees and across the property, but when you hear one you know it has meaning. As there is no other way to find out scores other than the huge scoreboards located around the course, you eagerly anticipate which players score will change. It is simply another great tradition that makes the Masters so memorable. Whether it is an eagle on 13 or 15, a birdie on 17 or a hole in one on 16, the roars on Sunday afternoon definitely go up a decibel or two.
Now that you have been teased on what you can do at the Masters, there is only one way to experience it all, attend golf’s most famous tournament. TIXSTAR together with Keith Prowse Travel, have amazing Masters experiences for you. Tick this spectacular sporting event off your bucket list before it’s too late. With 2019 packages now available, don’t miss out on seeing the best players in the world play one of the best courses in the world. It truly is worth the hefty investment.