The Masters Golf Tournament, held each year at Augusta National Golf Club, in Augusta, GA is currently the hottest ticket in town. Getting a ticket to the actual tournament is extremely difficult and can cost $$$. This tournament is unlike the others because the golfers are “invited” to participate. There are about 20 qualifications for invitation, such as being a former Masters champion, U.S. and British Open champions, etc. but it doesn’t guarantee these golfers will actually receive an invite.
There is a lottery held each year which gives people the opportunity to purchase tickets for the practice rounds. We enter the lottery every year and the last time we got tickets was 15 years ago. This year, however, we were able to get two tickets and made plans for the two and a half hour drive.
You are not allowed to bring in cell phones or any other type of electronic device as these are prohibited at all times. Cameras are only allowed on Practice Round days.
We arrived early on that lovely spring morning and the place was already packed with people. You are not considered a “fan” but a “patron” once you enter through the gates and therefore you are treated as a valued attendee. In exchange for viewing one of golf’s greatest spectacles, patrons are expected to behave with the utmost dignity and act courteously to other patrons and the golfers. No running, booing or shouting phrases like “You’re the Man!” will be tolerated and could result in dismissal. If you are a ticket holder this privilege could be taken away for good if you are one of the violaters.
One of the first things we noticed was the line for the gift shop. Unbelievable! I later read in the paper that it only took about 11 minutes to get in the shop and the check out system was fast and efficient. Once you got inside, as long as you weren’t claustrophobic, you could shop to your heart’s content! As we wandered the course, we noticed a few small pop-up shops that just sold sunglasses, hats, and chairs so we jumped in these very short lines and bought M. a hat.
The course is so lovely in the spring, and these photos just don’t do it justice. The holes are all named after plants and are adorned with the plant for which it is named. For example, Pink Dogwood is the second hole, the eighth hole is Yellow Jasmine, and the 18th hole is Holly. Azalea plants are everywhere on the grounds and look so pretty! I am sure these dates are the peak season for these lovely flowering plants giving the course this small window to really shine.
Located on the grounds are 10 cabins providing lodging for members and their guests. The cabin on the right is the Eisenhower Cabin built in 1953 for President and Mrs. Eisenhower. He is said to have visited this course 45 times before, during, and after his presidency. When Eisenhower was not in residence, it was used by other members.
One of the most famous traditions of this tournament is the presentation of the green jacket. Not sure who these guys are, but you have to be the creme de la creme or a member of the press to be standing in this area of the clubhouse.
The jackets are a symbol of the club’s elitism, and of its mystique. Only members and winners of the tournament wear these jackets. A winner is only permitted to remove it from Augusta for the first year after his triumph – after that it joins the others, kept by the club, to be worn when they return. It is the Augusta National’s way of preserving its status, of ensuring that no jacket goes missing (although Gary Player made so many excuses as to why he hadn’t returned his that he was eventually allowed to keep it in his personal museum in South Africa).
The highest of standards were evident in every aspect of this facility. The southern hospitality of the employees made you feel special and welcomed. The pine straw islands were twig and rock free; and the grass almost looked fake it was so flawless. The efficiency of the traffic management from the restrooms to the concessions was a breeze. The price of food was amazingly cheap. I got an egg salad sandwich and a generous glass of lemonade for $3.50.
This is a day we won’t soon forget.
Side note: It was recently announced they are going to host the final round of the first Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship next year in the week before hosting the Masters. In the 85 year history they have never hosted an amateur tournament.