So you want to go to the big show in Augusta one day. Here are some random tips to do just that…
First, create an account at Masters.com and then check your email from late summer to early fall for registration dates for the lottery ticketing system for the 2018 tournament.
When you get the link to the form, always check all three practice round days for your best chances. Of course, Wednesday is the best day because of the Par 3 tournament, but any day you get to walk along the famed course is great… and plan to do that… forget about the players, walk all 18 holes in order. It’s amazing!
If you don’t get selected in the official lottery, have no fear, there are a couple of other ways to get into the tournament. First, ticket brokers sell them. Practice rounds go for $300-$500 each and tournament days range from $1,500-$2,500 each. Second, if you stand outside the gates after about 1pm any day, with the exception of Sunday, of course, patrons who are leaving the grounds can be persuaded to sell or give you their badge for the rest of the day. It depends who you run into for this. If it’s someone who is there for the first time, they likely won’t give up their ticket, since it’s a great memento. If it’s someone who got their ticket from a friend and has been many times, they’ll take $50 for it. And if it’s someone who’s had tickets for years, they are likely to walk right past you, since they won’t risk having their tickets taken away.
So, let’s say you have found a fairly legal way to get a ticket, plan to get their early (gates open at 7:30am) and stay all day (gates usually close at 6:30pm). If it’s a practice round day, bring your camera along, but not on tournament days. AND LEAVE YOUR CELL PHONE/PAGER IN YOUR HOTEL ROOM OF CAR…THEY ARE STRICTLY FORBIDDEN.
Okay, on to the fun stuff…
Take advantage of the great prices on food and drinks. Homemade pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches are a MUST TRY (trust me…and for $1.50 each, it’s worth the risk of my being wrong). Beer in a souvenir plastic cup is just $3.00… yes, that’s a 3, not an 8.
And although, the concessions at The Masters® are amazingly cheap, the merchandise is just the opposite. I’ve heard that people spend an average of $600 in the massive “souvenir” shop. That seems over the top to me, but I can see how it happens… especially if it’s your one and only time at the big event. The few times I have been there, I deliberately selected one clothing item (for around $100) and then got sucked into a few $20 tchotchkes at the checkout line.
I mentioned earlier that you should walk the entire course. Once you’ve done that (or save that for last), the three best spots to sit for a while are Amen Corner (where the 11th green, the whole of 12, and the tee shot on 13 are visible); in the grandstands along the tee box to the Par 3 16th hole (the skipping hole during practice rounds); and around the 18th green (duh!).
Planning your trip to Augusta in early April should start well in advance. Hotels sell out quickly, but if you are interested in playing golf during the trip, plan to stay about 95 miles away in Clemson, SC or Santee, SC. Both offer great golf courses and convenient hotels and are easy drives to Augusta for your day of wonder.
Here’s hoping you get lucky in the Masters® lottery next year, but for now, you can watch all the action this week online here.