First things first, you don’t buy “tickets” to The Masters. You buy a badge. There are lots of sources for these, but the most interesting thing is that the waiting list for purchasing annual badges was cut off years ago, it’s so long. People are literally dying off before they move up on the list. That’s why a portion of badges for both the tournament and practice round are distributed in an online lottery. I’ll put it this way, when my kids went to college and had a separate on-campus address different than mine, I made sure they entered the lottery as well. Here are some things you need to know about your trip, assuming you’ve got your badges and lodging all settled. By the way, check out MastersHousing.com where you might be able to rent the home of a local resident. A lot of people stay as far away as Lake Oconee or Atlanta and drive over to Augusta. The traffic can be a problem, so plan to get there early. You can always walk the grounds and kill time at the practice range before the first group tees off.
Do not bring these with you
You won’t be able to bring your own beverages and food, and you wouldn’t want to, because the prices are so reasonable at the tournament that you can’t buy cheaper outside anyway. Except for practice round days, you cannot bring a camera or a cell phone. Don’t bother trying to sneak one in, because it WILL be found. I had my normal small pocketknife that I had to leave with security one day. Big backpacks aren’t allowed either. You won’t need one anyway as you can’t bring outside food or a camera, so problem solved. One thing you might want to bring is a pair of binoculars. I’ve found them useful at different spots on the course. Below is the official list of banned items:
- Cell Phones/Cellular capable devices/Beepers/Electronic devices/Tablets
- Any device capable of transmitting video
- Backpacks, Bags and Purses larger than 10” X 10” x 12” (in its natural state)
- Weapons of any kind (regardless of permit)
- Radios/TVs/Noise or music producing devices/Two way or other talk radios
- Folding armchairs/Rigid type chairs
- Golf shoes with metal spikes
- Ladders/Periscopes/Selfie sticks
Learn the course ahead of time
You will be provided with a very comprehensive program that you’ll end up saving as a souvenir, but some advance planning is useful. The course is somewhat compact, in reality, but it’s much more hilly than it looks like on TV. Wear comfortable shoes. There’s a lot of pine straw, and it can be slippery and rough on open sandals. WE won’t even mention heels, ladies. If you’re at a practice round, there are some great traditions such as the skipping of balls off the lake at the 16th and onto the green. Here’s another first-timer primer you might want to peruse as well.
I think you’ll want to see the whole course, but that’s tough to do. I like to mix a little walking with a little sitting and a little standing. The bleachers can fill up fast, and some people stay in their spot all day. I’ve found that during practice rounds, there’s more movement in and out of the bleacher areas. If you simply want to see every player, maybe you can camp at the bleachers behind the 12th tee box where you also have a view of the 11th and 13th holes. The bleachers at the 16th tee box also give a great view of the 15th green. You’ll definitely want to walk Amen Corner. It’s one of the most beautiful and challenging and dream-killing and hero-making spots in the entire world.
Personally, I’ve never been an autograph hound. But, if you are, you’ll have the best luckat the entrance to the practice area or at the Par 3 tournament. If you want a lot of autographs, find a walking area at the Par-3 tournament and stand there as players come by.
Augusta is located right next to the Savannah River, which seems to make its own ecosystem. Because of that, it can be still and 80 or windy and 50. It’s the south, so a thunderstorm isn’t out of the question. Personally, I wear thin slacks, a t-shirt and a golf shirt over that. I take a light jacket that’s also water resistant in case it’s chilly. Don’t forget to put on sunscreen at your car before you enter the grounds. If you forget, you can buy some at the Fan Experience area.
You won’t want to leave here without some merchandise, much of which can ONLY be purchased at the tournament. The clothing is of top quality, but it’s not cheap. I would budget around $500-700 for your purchases. I bought a Masters 2000 hat because that was the turn of the century, but I never wear it, because it’s almost 20 years old now. The golf shirts are great, especially when I travel. I’ve been stopped in places all over Europe to talk golf with another person who recognizes the iconic yellow outline of the United States and the flag pole denoting Augusta.