We checked another item off our Georgia Bucket List this year with a trip to The Masters thanks to our generous friends in Augusta. It was even more spectacular than I imagined! While I was there, I couldn’t help but take in the cultural and traditional nuances that have evolved over the years, as well as a bit of the history. Here’s what I gathered: 33 unusual things you probably don’t now about The Masters…unless you’ve been!
Have you been? Did you notice something that I didn’t mention here? I’d love to add it to our list!
1. You can’t just buy tickets to The Masters. You must apply for the opportunity to purchase tickets via a lottery. The lottery application process for 2017 begins May 10, 2016 so be sure to register.
2. Many families own tournament or “series” badges, but they are awarded only to those on the patron list (which is full.) According to Augusta National, after the death of a badge holder, the account is transferable only to a surviving spouse and cannot be transferred to other family members. So much for being in Uncle Bob’s will.
3. The Clubhouse was constructed in 1854 by the property owner who farmed indigo. It is considered the first cement house constructed in the South.
4. After the indigo plantation was purchased, it became a fruit tree orchard– Fruitland Nurseries – owned and operated by Prosper Berckmans. Can’t make The Masters? Pay tribute with a glass of Fruitland Augusta Vodka & Tea.
5. In honor of the nursery heritage, each hole is named for a special tree…The first hole is named for the lovely Tea Olive. Magnolia is hole 5, Redbud is hole 16, etc.
6. The Masters is probably the only place in America (the world??) where the line to the restroom is exponentially longer for men than for women. We overheard some speculation that the restroom line is almost 15:1 men to women, but the attendee ratio is more like 4:1. Crazy, right?
7. Almost everyone here owns a green folding chair marked with The Masters logo. You can purchase one in the gift shop for a reasonable $30.
8. Find your favorite spot on the course and sit out that special chair. You are free to roam the course now, with your spot marked for the rest of the day. Common courtesy dictates that you may sit in another chair (someone might even sit in yours,) but when you head back to your chair, you have dibs on that spot.
9. Despite the large gathering of people, the restrooms are impeccable. Each group of restrooms is outfitted with 3-5 people cleaning stalls as they are used.
10. You can’t buy a Coke or Sprite (or even a Pepsi) at The Masters. Name-brands are no-no. Don’t fret, though. You are welcome to purchase a cola, diet-cola, lemon-lime and the like. And this Georgia girl is quick to tell you that her “cola” tasted just like it came from a red can!
11. You know about the famous pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches, but did you know the sandwiches at The Masters are wrapped in green plastic? Why green? If anything should drop on the pristine lawn, then it will not show up on camera.
12. The flags flying above the ticket gates and main score board represent the players in the tournament.
13. If you’re a cigar aficionado, then you can continue the ancient golf tradition of smoking your stogie at The Masters. It’s not as popular as it used to be, but enjoyed in good taste, it is still welcome.
14. You might give a second thought to the winding line outside the gift shop. Have no fear. Though it seems enduring, they take careful measure to ensure that it takes only 8 minutes or less to make it into the store. And the check out line is considerably shorter, with barely a wait.
15. Empirical evidence suggests the most popular souvenir is a koozie, running $10 for a 2-pack.
16. Strapped for cash? The plastic cups emblazoned with The Masters logo are also big hits. You’ll often see people dumpster diving for these gems.
17. The grounds on which The Masters parking lot sits used to be a neighborhood. Today, one house still stands, refusing to sell, and you may be directed to park next to it. Herman and Elizabeth Thacker have owned the house since 1959, and their goal is to see their grandson –PGA professional Scott Brown– play in his hometown of Augusta.
18. The difference between the highest point on the course and the lowest point is 175 feet, but that says nothing about how hilly the course is. Everyone dresses to the nine’s, but sneakers are still the right call.
19. Jeans are not explicitly listed as a no-no on the dress code, but it’s an understood rule. In the crowd of thousands, we saw only four people wearing their denim on the green.
20. The beer list at The Masters expanded in 2016. In addition to the domestic and imported varieties, you could also order an American craft beer. No labels were in sight, but our sources confirm it was Blue Moon on tap.
21. Georgia allows Sunday sales of alcohol at noon, but don’t expect to drink until at least 12:30 on the final day. No beer sales are allowed until the last church calls to indicate that church is out.
22. Want to know how many people attended The Masters Tournament and the practice rounds? So do we, but the Augusta National is hush-hush about those numbers.
23. You can’t bring your phone or a camera into the course during the tournament. If you’re dying for photos then the practice rounds are when you want to visit. Cameras are allowed on those days.
24. Don’t even think about breaking the rules about cameras (or otherwise.) You will be politely escorted out by the GBI, and the passholder’s rights will be forever revoked.
25. So how do you prove you were at The Masters without the ability to snap a selfie? Head over to the Founder’s Circle where you can get a free snap in front of the Club House. Don’t miss peeking at Magnolia Lane as you are standing in line.
26. You can also catch a glimpse of the Par 3 course as you stand in the photo line. The Masters Par 3 Contest is held on Wednesday prior to the main event, and it is much beloved because you’ll find wives and girlfriends, children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews-all happily serving as caddies.
27. You’ll notice bleacher seating along a number of holes. These aren’t special seats; they are open to anyone (except the very back row of each stand, which is reserved for members and their guests.) Strangely, the bleacher seats generally aren’t filled until the last hour or so, at the later holes. These seats offer stellar views, especially around Amen Corner.
28. Poor eyesight? No worries. Binoculars are an authorized item, and they are also sold in the gift shop.
29. The best place to see your favorite players up close is at the putting green near the Club House. Golfer’s enter the area with an armed escort, making their way through a line of spectators anxious to catch a glimpse of their favorite player.
30. When you see your prized golfer making his way to the putting green, don’t bother asking for his signature. Autograph-seeking is allowed only on the Washington Road side of the clubhouse near the new practice facilities.
31. We noticed a few infants on the course (with brave parents) and a considerable number of youth. Are these golf-frenzied kids who received coveted tickets to the world’s greatest game? Nope…turns out that if parents win the ticket lottery, kids 8-16 yo can join their parents for free. It doesn’t apply to business partnership tickets or volunteers, and the Junior Ticketholder must be related to the one who purchased the ticket.
32. According to the Spectator Guide, the best place to grab a seat is behind hole 2, with five scenic golf views within 100 yards.
33. You’ll find 10 cabins on the Augusta National course, available to members and their guests. The Eisenhower is the most famous of these, built by the club for the president and his wife in 1953, meeting all the necessary security specs. He visited 45 times prior to his death.
After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.
Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.