Notes From the Road: Southern Decorum at the Masters in Augusta

BY North America | United States

The Masters, in my opinion, is the greatest sporting event in the world. Hosted at the same location year after year, the only major tournament in golf to do so, it rings in the real start of the golf season for pros and amateurs alike. Countless households in the United States and around the world gather around their TVs on ‘Masters Sunday’ to tune in to that year’s excitement, and it sets the tone for the golf season to come. So when I was tapped to guide our Augusta Masters Golf trip this year, my excitement was indescribable.

The anticipation…

Everything in Northern Georgia revolves around this one week in early April. Any school within 100 miles of Augusta takes their spring break at this time of year, every year. University students make their beer money for the year, and everyone in the area gears up to welcome the masses as they make their pilgrimage to the ‘Cathedral in the Pines’.

From the moment you set foot in the terminal at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the excitement starts to build as you spot your first Masters hat (unless you’ve already seen a fellow patron on the plane with you). Yellow flags start appearing with much more frequency as you arrive in the city, and every single person at your hotel bar will surely be watching the late-Saturday coverage on TV with laser focus.

To heighten the anticipation, you actually have to sleep tonight, after watching Justin Rose go birdie-birdie to create a tie at the top of the leaderboard going in to Masters Sunday, and all you can think of are the deep-green fairways of Augusta National, lined with pine trees and azaleas. Only a few more hours…

Southern decorum reigns supreme

The anticipation is finally behind us, and we are about to set foot on Augusta National, but not before first observing the rules that capture this place in time. After checking any cellphones and cameras, and getting our badges for the day (still one of the toughest tickets to get in the sports world), we make the walk down to the patron gate.

Once past, you are officially a patron at Augusta National. A pimento cheese or egg salad sandwich awaits you for a modest $1.50, and a beer is $3 ($4 for import or craft beer. I know… what a gouge!). The fare might be simple, but it is far from drab: the barbecue pulled pork sandwich ($3) is one of the best I have ever had, and the Georgia peach ice cream sandwich ($2) is just as good as it sounds.

There might be tens of thousands of patrons at The Masters on the final Sunday, but the course still feels relatively uncrowded. Concession and washroom lines that seem to stretch to infinity move seamlessly and get you back on the course unbelievably quickly. Moving through the crowd to reach a different hole is effortless. And if you need to rest your legs, simply mosey on back to your chair…

The best part of Augusta National is the southern decorum that reigns supreme on its hallowed grounds. The decision was made to not raise concession prices, so anyone that makes the trip to Augusta (albeit costly) can enjoy themselves on the grounds at no great expense.

Amateur golfers have long been offered a place to stay in the clubhouse at Augusta during the Masters, as once again, it was decided that amateur golf should be encouraged, and no amateur should have to go through unreasonable expense once there.

Green jackets for (almost) all!

Even the vaunted green jacket is a symbol devised with the patrons in mind: the first green jacket was awarded to the 1949 Masters champion, Sam Snead, but the members at Augusta National had been wearing the iconic jacket since 1937, three years after the tournament’s inception so patrons could easily identify a source of local knowledge on the course.

Even to this day, if you see someone walking around the course in a green jacket on Masters Sunday, they are more than happy to point you in the direction of the nearest concession, or the 16th green; they’ll even regale you with a Masters story of old if they have the time.

But most importantly, if you are walking the course with one of the Masters folding chairs, which is an absolute essential to purchase, you can place that chair wherever you like, and expect it to remain there for the duration of the day. While some think the 18th green is the place to be, we have our own ideas of where to plant your chair when you set foot on the course.

 

See for Yourself

To experience The Masters Tournament is to see firsthand the veneration of tradition, the purity of the game, and the immediacy of the relationship between athletes and fans. On our Augusta Masters Golf trip, commune with golf’s greats at the Cathedral in the Pines.

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Memories that will last a lifetime

Walking the course is an experience itself, and one we highly recommend after placing your chair in the morning. Even the first hole, a relatively flat-looking affair on TV, is anything but flat in person.

We like to say that walking the entire course at Augusta National is like trekking in the Himalayas, and it sounds like an exaggeration until you get there. The elevation difference at Augusta National between the lowest point of the course at the 12th green and the highest at the first green is roughly equivalent to the height of Niagara Falls(!), and is so great that the golf club had to switch the nines shortly after the club’s inception, after they found that the lower holes on the first nine (now the second nine) were susceptible to frost for the first few hours of every day.

18th tee at Augusta National

Holes that you think you know from TV are difficult to comprehend in person. The 5th hole fairway is set at an incredible angle, and players find themselves hitting balls that sit at waist height, if they can even hold the fairway. The Statue of Liberty could fit in between the highest and lowest points of the 10th hole, and the 18th tee shot involves piping a drive through a 20-foot-wide corridor and up a 100-foot hill.

But naturally, the best memories you make involve the golf you’ve come to see. Whether it’s Matt Kuchar making an ace on the par-3 16th hole, or watching as Jordan Spieth dunks it on the par 3 12th for the second year in a row(!), the excitement does not let up, and in my opinion, there’s no better place to be to witness it all.

The Slow Road

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