Everyone knows what you're talking about when you are referring to "The Masters". Even some of my friends who have never touched a club are able to have a (decently in-depth) conversation about the most prestigious tournament in the world, they might not know who's playing or why its so prestigious but they definitely know of The Masters.
I was lucky enough to grow up in Augusta, Georgia, the city that is home to the tournament, that created so many lifelong memories for me. Every year it seemed our lives stopped for a full week, because no one cared about anything but golf. As a kid, our school's spring break would fall during Masters Week allowing my dad, my sister and I to spend that week fully indulged in our golf obsessions. Golf was such a major subject in Augusta that as second graders we learned about the history of Bobby Jones and how Augusta National came to be.
So when I tell people the double whammy- I grew up in Augusta AND I play golf I get the firestorm of questions. "Have you ever been to the Masters? Do you go every year?"... and then followed by the best one, "Have you ever gotten to play?" Thankfully, the golf gods have smiled down on me and I can answer that question with a "yes" and a smile.
I was fortunate enough to play Augusta National twice and I can tell you it exceeds every and all preconceived notion you might have from seeing the course on TV. My sister Taylor and I were the youngest girls to ever play at one point at 11 and 12 years old. I'm not sure if anyone younger has played since then. Augusta National has shaped who I am and my love for the game. It's impossible to experience something that incredible and historic and not feel inspired. I hope that every golf-lover has a chance to at least attend the tournament once in their lifetime. I get chills walking on the grounds of Augusta National to this day. It is truly unlike any other event. So, whether you have never been, are going for the first time, or have been 10 times, I have created a short little guide to help you conquer the Masters, like a pro!
1. Arrive early!
In my opinion the most important part of being a spectator. If you arrive early (when gates open), you have first access to the merchandise shop. If it is your first time at the Masters be prepared to drop some serious cash on souvenirs. By getting there early the shop is much less crowded and you can see all they have to offer before it gets too busy.
Arriving early will also allow you to pick your spot. If you prefer to walk along with a group just know you won't really get a clear view and you'll be in the middle of the large crowd all day long. I prefer to pick a spot and wait there for groups to go by. You will get up close and personal with your favorite players and have a much better view. You can leave your folding chair if you need to get food or walk around and come back to it later.
2. Go hungry!
If you havent heard, one of the best things about the Masters is the food. The pimento cheese sandwiches are world famous- and for good reason! The best part is they're cheap! Unlike most commodities at the tournament the food and drinks are dirt cheap and are truly a delicious southern treat. You can get different sandwhiches, ice cream, candy, sweet tea or lemonade just to name a few. There are so many choices and in my opinion its tough to go wrong with whatever you choose.
3. Dress appropriately
This might be my most important piece of advice. Especially for us ladies! I like to look fashionable just as much as anyone but hear me out. Do yourself a favor and leave the sandals and wedges at home. You will be walking miles across the course and it is very hilly (and slippery with morning dew). The tv coverage does not truly show the elevation and you really underestimate how different it is to actually walk up and down the hills.
I like to bring a hat and/or sunglasses with me to make sure to protect myself. The southern sun is no joke and being outside all day and can lead to a bad sunburn if you aren't careful. Also, no one wants to be squinting all day long so make sure you go prepared.
4. Leave it in the car
Everyone knows you cant take your cell phone beyond the gates at Augusta National. I highly suggest only bringing necessities. Put cash, credit cards, ID and ticket in your pocket. You will be carrying around merchandise, souvenir cups and maybe munching on a sandwich as you walk. Don’t slow yourself down with clutter. Only take necessities!
5. Have a plan
No cell phones means no contact! If you go with buddies make sure you pick a meeting point in case you get separated within the gates. Its a big place and not easy to find people with such large crowds. Know where you want to meet and when! There is nothing worse than wasting time looking for your friends when you could be enjoying the golf.
6. No photos on tournament days
I love going on practice round days for many reasons. One of them being, you get to take pictures! For me, I love having a photo op. If you go during a practice round you can watch the players try out multiple shots (including skipping the ball across the pond on 16) that you wouldn't see them try during the event. Tournament days are great too but just remember no cameras! Take this into consideration when deciding what day or days you want to go!
My Masters obsession started at a young age. This was the first time I ever went to Augusta National.
My family has been by my side through it all. There are no words to describe the feeling of such an incredible experience.
Augusta National holds a special place in my heart. I hope this guide helps you enjoy the experience and whatever you do, don’t forget to take it all in. It truly is a tradition unlike any other”.