Article written by Dan Bruce: A two time US Masters attendee
If you’re lucky enough to be on your way to the golfing heaven on earth – to see the Masters Tournament at Augusta National – read on. Here’s a pen and paper account of my experiences, some tips, insight and must do’s – which is no reflection of the actual experience itself. Build your expectations up as much as humanly possible, I guarantee they will be exponentially exceeded.
Take in the journey, your first drive down Washington Rd, and if approaching from the South, be sure to keep a lookout for the ‘ANGC members only’ sign that you’ve dreamt about in years gone by. It’s just a sign, but still gives you goosebumps. If you’re approaching from the North, keep your eye out past Hooters and see the John Daly show roll into town. His RV is parked there during Masters week with trestle tables full of JD merch – a popular attraction.
Patrons have the choice of either the North or South entrance into the grounds. The South entrance will guide you towards the 16th hole, but is serviced by a great merchandise shop (and they literally are shops), concession huts, whereas the North entrance will drop you in alongside the practice facilities (which is something else). So depending on the structure of your day, either entrance will serve you well. My preference would be the South.
Getting into the grounds is like boarding a flight. You will be scanned for prohibited items and the airport style scanners will prevent you from getting any contraband inside the gates and so it should. Leave your phone at home and for those who do forget and arrive at the gates with it in your pocket, don’t worry, ANGC have you covered. Conveniently located cloaking stands will allow you to check your items for collection later in the day. At the end of the day queues move quickly so collecting your belongings couldn’t be easier and hassle free.
Rules are a little different on practice days, including the Par 3 contest (Wednesday) that permit you to bring your camera along. If you can get to a practice day, do it. Take hundreds of photos. The experience is that overwhelming you won’t remember it all… photos will help with the recall. I still just sit in wonder looking at photos from my first experience, nearly four years on.
Once inside the gates prepare to lose your breath. No matter how manicured and stunning you expect the property to be, it’s more. Everything has a place. Every pine needle looks as if it is has been deliberately placed with tweezers. Pick up your complimentary tee sheet for the day, grab a couple and fold them nicely as you’ll want to bring these free souvenirs home with you. But remember, no running. A Masters crowd is the most respectful and courteous crowd to be a part of that just makes you want to follow the rules, simply out of respect.
If you choose the North entrance, prepare yourself to be blown away with the practice facilities. It’s nearly as wide as it is long and is a great area to take a load off your feet and catch the players warming up and fine tuning their game for what is hopefully an historic week. Some of my greatest memories were watching the greats on the range on Wednesday afternoon before heading to the Par 3 course. Never in my life did I think I’d have the privilege of seeing the likes of Gary Player, Nick Faldo, Tom Watson, and (for the Aussies) Ian Baker-Finch grooving their swings.
Look at the size of the practice facilities!
Get merchandise shopping (for yourself and those back home) out of the way early. Although not common, some of the popular items could sell out deep into the week.
If you’re not keen on carrying your merchandise all day, plus if you’re anything like me you’ll have a huge haul, then you can check it in, grab your ticket stub and easily collect it on the way out. Again these facilities are conveniently located alongside the exit of the merchandise shops.
If you’re really looking for an easy option, you can ship your merchandise straight home. Prices are reasonable, depending on exchange rates, but it means you can get it sent straight to your door. For those in AUS, be mindful of the value of the contents because if it hits a certain maximum, you’ll be up for duty and fees on its arrival to Australia.
Shipping merchandise home is really easy
Frequent the concession stands. Queues can get quite lengthy but with the number of registers and staff in attendance, they move really quickly. Prices are famously cheap so try as much as you can. The selection is wide and varied and is all Masters branded. The sausage biscuit is my pick of the breakfast menu (with a couple of mustard sachets applied) while the lunch menu is full of great choices, the classic chicken sandwich, the Masters club, and undoubtedly my favourite, the BBQ sandwich. So good. For nostalgic reasons, you have to try a pimento cheese sandwich at some point also. A Masters must-have.
US Masters branded food
Keep your drink cups. They are resilient and make great cups, talking points and souvenirs for when you arrive back home. Maybe just give them a rinse first before packing them in your luggage.
Get a Masters chair. They aren’t that hard to travel with, can easily fit in a golf travel bag if your clubs are travelling with you. I even saw quite a number of travellers bringing them in their carry-on luggage. Something that I imagine is expected and allowed in Masters week. Nothing greater than bringing the chair out each April, reflecting on your back deck while crushing a cold one out of your recycled Masters cup. Unless you’re willing to be at the gates when they open Sunday morning, don’t waste time trying to place your chair to close to being greenside at 18, instead cut your losses and head to other prime positions where access is less popular, but still incredibly busy.
Some viewing tips of mine include:
- Behind the 7th Green – a fun spot to watch players go through as a Sunday pin here is generally very accessible and assisted from the backstop. Expect to see a lot of second shots go close to holing out here on Sunday, and if you’re lucky, one might drop. Madness ensues. It also provides good views across to the 2nd green, 3rd tee and depending on placement, the 8th tee.
Parallel to the pond on the 16th hole – not only one of the world’s premier par 3 holes, but another generous Sunday pin can see many go close to an ace here while also providing views across to the par 5 15th hole. If it’s tight come Sunday afternoon, there’s always plenty of drama to be had here as well.
Get your free photo taken at Founder’s Circle. Magnolia Lane and the clubhouse are heavily guarded and restricted to patrons during Masters week. The closest you’ll get is to visit the free photo service for you and your travelling party to have your photo taken alongside the famous ANGC shaped garden beds with the stunning clubhouse in the background. You’ll receive a digital download code to log on and retrieve when you get home. Queues can be lengthy so pick your moments, and those with children can jump to the front of the queue. These queues run parallel to the Par 3 course so for those not lucky enough to go on Wednesday, look over your right shoulder for a great glimpse to this short course gem.
My photo at Founder’s Circle
Another ANGC landmark is that big Oak tree that dominates the landscape adjacent to the first tee box. Albeit in a roped off area, reserved for those with the right credentials, history has it that some of the most powerful conversations in golf have happened underneath this tee. Park yourself nearby for a little while and try to spot the many and varied golf personalities, players, current and legends and media personalities, etc., who revel in it’s shade during a (hopefully) sunny Spring Masters week.
The famous Oak tree
Sunday at the Masters is something else. If you can get yourself access to a Sunday badge, take it. Figuratively, don’t let any man, woman or child get in your way of being greenside, or as close as possible when the final groups, and likely, the leader go through. Literally, a respectful Masters crowd will once again require you to let every man, woman or child get in your way if they were there first, or even luckier… there earlier than you to place their chair in prime position to see another green jacket claimed.
Walk the entire main course at some point. Don’t miss a hole and visit all the iconic spots. Bubba’s wedge on 10, Scotty’s championship winning putt on 10 green, Oosty’s albatross on 2, Phil from the pinestraw on 13, the list goes on. The elevation will leave you breathless at times, both literally and figuratively for first time attendees.
The elevation is no joke!
Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll do a heap of walking so avoid blisters. Additionally, the pinestraw can be slippery, even in dry conditions. You’ve been warned.
Talk to other patrons and experience ANGC and the Masters together. Some of the wonders just need to be spoken about and chances are, you’ll run into many international visitors experiencing heaven on earth in the same way you are. Open your ears, listen to those around and take it all in.
The iconic Amen Corner
You cannot be disappointed. A genuine bucket list event for golfers and non-golfers alike. After two trips I would jump at the chance to get there again. Not a cheap experience but one worth every cent.
- *If you would like to attend the US Masters, visit our Augusta city page to look for tickets. Feel free to contact the Sports Where I Am team if you have any questions.
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