photo courtesy The Masters
The Masters Tournament is one of the biggest and most prestigious golf tournaments in the world. Along with the U.S. Open, PGA Championship and the British Open, the Masters is one of the four major championships in golf. The Masters takes place at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, GA each year. The 2018 edition will be held April 5-8, though there will be events throughout the whole week as Augusta turns itself into the center of the golf universe. All the world’s top golfers will be in town hoping to be the next man wearing the iconic green blazer given to each year's winner.
Augusta National Golf Club is home to one of the greatest courses in golf. Founded by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts at the site of a former plant nursery in 1933, the course quickly rose to prominence. It was designed by Jones and famed British course architect Alister MacKenzie. The course is a 7,435-yard, par 72 course that challenges the best golfers in the world with its distance and demanding shots. The course has many famous landmarks, including the trio of holes at No. 11, 12 and 13 known as Amen Corner. After the course opened in 1933, Jones and Roberts decided to host the inaugural tournament, soon to be known as the Masters, the following year. The Masters soon became a major championship, and is the first major held during the golf season.
Getting tickets to any of the top sporting events in the United States is difficult. The Super Bowl, World Series, the Indy 500 and the Kentucky Derby are all more than just sports events. They are part of American culture. The Masters is another of the great American sporting traditions, and getting tickets for the Masters is notoriously difficult. The only official way to get tickets is to sign up for the Masters Ticket lottery through Augusta National. The event is so popular that you must apply almost a year in advance, with drawings for tickets generally happening in May or June of the preceding year. Outside of the official channel, you can find a limited number of Masters tickets from the online ticket resale market or from other secondary providers. Expect to shell out multiple thousands in order to get one of these tickets. It is also possible to find scalpers with tickets for sale, though they must be located at least 2,700 feet away from Augusta National and buyers should expect to pay a premium price.
If you are one of the lucky few to score tickets to the Masters, be sure and plan ahead to get the most out of your trip. Traffic in Augusta is notoriously bad during the tournament and it is advised that fans stay as close to Augusta National as possible. A great option is to rent one of the many private homes available for the week. Many of the town’s residents flee Augusta during the tournament and put their homes up for rent. If you are going with a group this is by far the best option. Otherwise, look to stay in a hotel as close to Augusta as possible, but be advised to avoid staying in Atlanta if you can. The traffic headaches of traveling to and from Atlanta can ruin an otherwise enjoyable trip.
If you attend one of the practice round on Monday-Wednesday, be sure and pack your camera. Cameras are only allowed during practice rounds and this is your only chance to take keepsake photos. Also be sure and check the Masters’ list of prohibited items provided below the article to make sure you do not run afoul of the intense security at the event. Spectators should arrive early and expect to wait before being let in each day, but don’t worry, the memories will be worth it. A tip for newcomers: buy an official Masters chair during one of the practice rounds. When the official tournament kicks off on Thursday, set up your chair at a favorite spot and write your name clearly on the back with a permanent marker. This will act as a reserved seat and you will be able to return to the seat without fear that anyone will have moved “your” spot. Now walk the grounds and take in the sights, but be sure to return to your favored spot in time to watch your favorite golfers.
Courses to Play During Your Stay
Augusta has many pristine local courses. While you likely have a snowball’s chance in South Florida of ever playing a round on the famed Augusta National, rest assured that you do have several options open to you. Forest Hills Golf Club, designed by the famed Donald Ross, provides a solid and challenging course full of Ross’s famous “bowl effect” on the greens. The Tom Fazio designed Jones Creek Golf Club is a more forgiving option available, though with plenty of challenge and excellent facilities. The Pointe South Golf Club provides a course full of doglegs and water hazards that’s great for showing off your shotmaking abilities and enjoying your playing partner’s numerous trips to the water. A classic parkland course is available at the Maple Ellis designed Goshen Plantation Golf Club. And last but not least, the Jim Fazio designed River Golf Club provides a difficult but fair course full of potential water hazards and beautiful views of the Savannah River. Golfers should expect inflated green fees as local courses look to cash in on the yearly influx of golfers.