Masters golf tournament: Fans pack the Amen corner

A non-golfer’s day at the Masters Golf Tournament

Tips to make the most of your time at Augusta

I wish I could golf and score under 100. Or even come close to 100. Maybe more practicing and playing can get me there, but after thousands of dollars on lessons and equipment, it’s not looking good.

But even as a chronic duffer, attending the PGA Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club has always been on my bucket list. The traditions, course, grounds, quirky etiquette and requirements for player qualification make it an all-star game in every way.

Phil Mickelson at the Masters, Augusta National

Scoring a ticket – family, friends or fate

Masters tickets are said to be among the toughest to get in any sport. The Masters thrives off exclusivity, and prioritizes the player and fan experience above everything else.

They don’t release official details on attendance, but estimates are that they allow 50,000 fans on the course each day for practice rounds and 40,000 each tournament day. Compare that to the 2017 PGA Waste Management Phoenix Open where 204,906 fans attended Saturday’s round.

Masters tickets are passed through families for generations. A lucky few get invited through a member or corporate sponsorship. The best way to get for average Joes to get Masters tickets is through their lottery applications. I enter every year, along with Libby’s three brothers. The ticket gods have been good to me the last two years, and I’ve been able to attend practice rounds.

Fans watch practice rounds for the Masters in Augusta

Note: As you drive through Augusta to the course there are many unauthorized vendors selling tickets. They seem legit. I saw some of the same vendors there both years. I know folks who attend regularly by driving down and buying tickets off the street. Not sure I trust the tickets are be legit, but it does work for many.

The experience begins before you even park

The Masters experience begins on the drive down Berckmans Road where parking is located. From this point forward you will likely never spot a piece of trash or anything broken or out of place. If you do, if won’t be for long.

Heck, the place we parked was evidently one of the sod fields. It was mowed and looked like a fairway.

Pro tip: Leave your phone in the car. If you are caught using a phone on the course you will be ejected and banned from getting future tickets. Cameras are allowed only allowed for practice rounds.

A few of my favorite Masters memories:

Skipping balls across the water on #16. Come Thursday, PGA players are all business on this par 3, but during the practice rounds players hit their shot from the tee, then approach the water’s edge, and attempt to skip balls across the water onto the green. All to the roaring delight of the fans when they make it across, and a chorus of “ohhhhhhhhhhhhh” when the balls disappear below the surface.

Amen corner. Amen corner is the nickname given to the 11th, 12th and 13th holes at Augusta National. It is often a pivotal stretch on the back nine and offers great vantage points for fans at the course and watching on TV. The bridges leading over Rae’s Creek to the 12th green and its background of azaleas are the iconic image of the Masters. Walk all three holes and then hang out for a bit at the bleachers on the 12th tee.

The #10 fairway. There are 10 cabins on the grounds used by club members when visiting the course. Most are located along the 10th fairway. Watch a few tee shots, then stroll down the fairway to take in the famous Butler Cabin and the places where presidents, dignitaries and golf legends have all laid their heads. The sharp down slope of the fairway provides one of the best viewing areas on the course.

10th fairway cabins at the Masters

The gear. Masters merchandise is only sold at the course during the tournament. Never online. Never at outside retail shops. The exclusivity makes it much coveted. Load up for yourself and on gifts for others. You will be popular guy or gal. The downside is that this takes a while. The line to get into one of the stores is 30 minutes plus. Buy more than you want to haul around all day? With typical Masters efficiency, they are happy to box and ship your purchases home.

The big oak. The oak tree between the clubhouse and 1st tee is the epicenter of golf at the Masters. Walk by and see television interviews, players, celebrities and a host of Masters brainpower.

Pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches. Nowhere else in sports will you find concessions at these prices. My buddy and I each got a pimento cheese sandwich, egg salad sandwich and soft drink. Total for both of us was $10. You can hardly get a souvenir soda for that other places. Sandwiches are $1.50 and soda is $2. Feeling like a big spender? Splurge on a barbecue sandwich for $3.

My lottery application is already in for 2018. Here’s hoping for a ticket trifecta.

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