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?