Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.14
Augusta National Golf Club 2604 Washington Rd Augusta, GA 30904
Year Opened: 1932
The Home of the Green Jacket
The Kentucky Derby, the Indianapolis 500, the Super Bowl, Wimbledon… all events that rank higher than other events in their respective sports. In golf, there is no event equal to The Masters Golf Tournament held in Augusta the first week of April each year. (Due to the coronavirus outbreak the 2020 tournament will be held November 12-15.) The tournament field is limited to winners of tournaments, Olympic Gold medalists, past Masters winners and top amateur golfers from around the world…. all vying to wear the Green Jacket on Sunday afternoon No other tournament can boast such a level of competition.
The Masters began in the minds of golf icon Bobby Jones, the first golfer to win the Grand Slam, and his friend Clifford Roberts. They envisioned an annual invitational gathering of golf’s top players on a course they were designing on the former site of an indigo plantation and plant nursery in Augusta, GA. The holes were designed by Jones based on the favorite holes he had played around the world. The inaugural Masters was held in the first week of April 1934. The tournament has been held every year since then except for 1943-1945 due to World War II.
Food & Beverage 5
Augusta National strictly prohibits food and beverage being brought in from the outside. Food can be checked at the entry gates and consumed in a picnic area outside the gates and re-entry will be permitted.
There are numerous food and beverage stands set up throughout the course. The quality of the food is excellent and is offered at prices that no other top professional sports event can match. One of the traditions since the beginning of the tournament is its legendary pimento cheese sandwich, which is available for $1.50. The recipe for the sandwich is a closely guarded secret and is only offered during the tournament. Other food items offered at the concession stands are egg salad sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches, tuna salad sandwiches and turkey sandwiches, all of which cost only $1.50, BBQ sandwiches, the Masters Club sandwich and chicken sandwiches are all priced at $2.50 apiece.
Breakfast items are available until 10am for patrons arriving for early tee times. The breakfast menu includes sausage biscuits ($1.50), blueberry muffins ($1), fruit cups ($1) and coffee ($1).
Beverage selections include Coca-Cola brand soft drinks ($1), bottled water ($1.50), iced tea ($1.50), domestic beers ($2.75) and imported beers ($3.50). Dessert items include candy, chips, crackers, peanuts and cookies all priced at $1 apiece, as well as ice cream bars for $2.
The atmosphere at The Masters is one of tradition and reverence for both the game and the course itself. The tournament officially gets underway with a set of honorary starters driving the ball off the first tee. Amongst these honorary starters have been golf legends Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Byron Nelson, Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead. Each hole not only has a number but a name correlating to the flora and fauna lining the hole. There are three stone bridges on the course honoring golf greats… the Sarazen Bridge (hole #15), the Hogan Bridge (hole# 12) and the Nelson Bridge (hole #13). Holes 11, 12 and 13 are known as “Amen Corner” as they are typically the holes where a player wins or loses the tournament on Masters Sunday.
The Masters atmosphere includes the anticipation of the unexpected by the gallery. They remember when unknowns have come from nowhere to wear the Green Jacket. They also remember Jack Nicklaus’ unexpected sixth win of The Masters in 1986 at the age of 46 and Tiger Woods dramatic win in 2019 when many thought his career was over.
Those who watch The Masters would assume the Augusta National Golf Course is located outside of the city due to its beauty and quiet charm. In fact, the Augusta National Golf Club is located just off Washington Road, one of the busiest roads in Augusta. It is a heavily commercial strip with hotels, fast food restaurants and a church located near the Club. Drivers on Washington Road are unable to see the course, as it is protected by a well-maintained hedge and a chain link fence.
We suggest you take time away from the hustle and bustle of Washington Road to see the quieter, but more charming downtown area of Augusta along Broad Street. The Augusta Riverwalk provides a lovely shaded view of the Savannah River, which is the border between Georgia and South Carolina. The Riverwalk features fountains, pocket parks, restaurants and an amphitheater named for the late opera singer Jessye Norman, an Augusta native. Another attraction nearby is the Augusta Canal. It was built in 1845 as a source for power, water, and transportation. The Augusta Canal is the only intact industrial canal in the American South still in continuous use. It now has National Heritage Area status and trips up and down the canal are offered daily.
The term fan is not used at the Masters, as the club uses the term patron when referring to their guests. This harkens back to the original days of the event when Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts were establishing the tone of the event. Patrons tend to have a long-term relationship with the tournament often going back two or more generations. Though daily tickets are available for the event through a lottery, patrons hold badges, which are good through the entire tournament.
In many ways, patrons are unlike the fan bases found in other sports or even other golf tournaments. Of course, they love the game, just like football and baseball fans, but they truly have a reverence for the Masters itself. They readily comply with the rules of the event, which include the surrendering of any electronic equipment such as cell phones, pagers, or beepers as they enter the event. No photography is allowed on the course on tournament days (they are allowed during practice rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday). Autograph sessions are allowed, but only at designated times and locations. This does not mean the gallery cannot not express their support of a certain player or in recognition of a great shot… loud applause and cheers are fine, just as long as they do not interfere with the play of other players on that hole.
Another thing that separates the Masters patron from other fan bases is the lack of reselling of daily tickets or a badge. Persons found to be reselling their badges face being ejected from the grounds and permanent loss of their credentials.
Augusta National Golf Club is easily reached via the Washington Road Exit off I-20. Once off I-20 head south on Washington Road for 1.2 miles and the Augusta National Golf Club parking area will be on your right. If this lot is full, there are numerous private lots along Washington Road for a small fee. You will find the Golf Club to be very efficient in nearly every form of access, from placement of concessions, restroom locations on the course and friendly Club members to guide you to the correct area. It is a good idea to go in as light as possible as any electronic devices and cameras will be checked at the gate, causing you a delay. Easy to read maps of the course are provided as you enter the actual golf course area. This allows you to decide what holes you want to stake out for viewing the action during the tournament.
After the rounds complete for the day you will find most of the hotels along Washington Road or along Broad Street in Downtown Augusta, which is about 2 miles from the Augusta National Golf Club. Most of the homes available through the Masters Housing Bureau are in proximity of the club.
Return on Investment 5
There simply no other golf event during the year that comes close to the pageantry of the Masters. The prices attached to the tournament are not unreasonable. A patron badge for all four rounds is $375. Daily tickets are $115 but are sold through a lottery months in advance of the tournament. What makes the ROI so high is that the gallery size is limited and there is a wait list of thousands to purchase a badge. The prices charged for food and beverages are much lower than any stadium or arena charges for the same item. Parking is available in the Augusta National Golf Club lots for free on a first come, first served basis.
The Masters is unique in that it truly pioneered concept of renting out local homes the week of the tournament, as the hotel/motel inventory in Augusta is not large enough to handle the crowds. The Masters Housing Bureau works with local residents who would be interested in renting out their houses during Masters week, as schools and workplaces in the area are closed for the week due to the traffic and crowds. This often saves persons attending the tournament money over a lengthy hotel stay or a long commute from Atlanta or Columbia each day. Finally, ask anyone who has attended the tournament… they will tell you the experience is priceless.
The Masters recognizes the course’s origin as a plant nursery by giving each hole a name reflective of the various plants sold at the facility. These holes are surrounded by plantings matched to the hole’s name. A selection of hole names includes pink dogwood, flowering peach, camellia, redbud, and holly. The Masters is best known for the gorgeous azalea plantings throughout the course.
Tiger Woods is the youngest player to win The Masters, as he won the tournament at age 21. Jack Nicklaus is the oldest winner of the tournament, winning at the age of 46 in 1986.
The Masters pioneered a new scoreboard system that reflected whether a participant was over or under par, rather than a stroke total. The scoreboard is changed by hand with a green zero other number reflecting par or over par and a red number reflecting under par.
Augusta’s Class A baseball team is known as the Augusta GreenJackets. Its mascot is a bee wearing the Green Jacket with a coat of arms featuring a crossed baseball bat and golf club. The Augusta National Golf Club has given its blessing for the name and depiction as a matter of civic pride in Augusta.
Attending a round at The Masters is a priority bucket list item for any golf enthusiast. No other event in the world of golf can boast of such a competitive field along with the many traditions the Augusta National Golf Club have enshrined into the event. It truly is the “Tournament of Champions.”