10 things I learned during my first trip to Augusta National Golf Club

I was fortunate to score a ticket to Tuesday’s practice round for the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club. The crown jewel of the sport, Augusta National is a bucket-list destination for every golf fan, and I made sure to take in all of the sights and visit every hole while I was there.

Here are 10 fascinating things I learned during the visit.

  • This is the last place on Earth where you’re forced to be separated from your cellphone, but it’s quite refreshing. You actually get to focus on golf and the spectacle surrounding you. There’s nothing to distract you from the blooming azaleas and the incredible golf.
  • Without your phone, there’s no way to measure time, and it can get away from you fast. Wear a watch or you’ll be asking people for the time all day long.
  • Augusta National has strict rules. Like, crazy strict. Don’t ever, ever run on the course. You can bring a folding chair, but it can’t have arms. If you don’t own a chair that fits their specifications, don’t worry, they have plenty at the gift shop. For $30 each.
  • If you bring or buy a chair, pick a hole and leave it there. You can get good front-row viewing that way. I highly suggest the green on the par-3 16th or any of the holes on Amen Corner, which is holes 11, 12 and 13. The 18th green is obviously another good choice, but you’re not likely to be anywhere near the hole if you choose to go that route.
  • You can get one of their famous pimento cheese or egg salad sandwiches for $1.50. The rest of the food on the menu is about the same price. Beers are no more than $5. And if you’re wondering which of the sandwiches is better, I ate at least one of each, but … the egg salad is tastier. That’s coming from a man who worships at the Altar of Pimento Cheese.
  • The gift shop isn’t as forgiving on your wallet. You’ll probably spend at least $100 on a polo shirt, and the prices only go up from there. If you want to shop, don’t do it at the main gift shop – go to one of the side shops sprinkled all over the club. The main shop is packed beyond belief with aggressive shoppers. At one point, as I watched throngs of people grasp for hats on a particular hat rack, I thought to myself how much it resembled the zombies in The Walking Dead reaching for human flesh. It didn’t make matters better when at the exact moment I had that thought, someone in the store started whistling like the Saviors from the show.
  • One reason why the course is so immaculate is because they assign a worker to every square inch of the place. If a pine cone falls, someone comes by to pick it up. Same for a cigar butt. And if they catch you throwing trash on the ground, only God can help you.
  • Keep your head on a swivel, because there are famous people at the course all week. I was walking near the putting green and overheard PGA Tour golfer Steve Elkington introducing himself to an older gentleman. The guys in the green jackets – members at the club – are out and about as well. It’s just that kind of place.
  • Parking is free, as long as you park in the lot Augusta National wants you to use.
  • Last but certainly not least, the bathrooms are not porta potties. They’re real, permanent structures, and they have workers in each bathroom cleaning the stalls after each use. There’s another worker who will hold your belongings while you use the facilities, and another who cleans the sinks. Do not tip any of these people – Augusta National forbids it.

Here are some more shots I took Tuesday at the course. For best viewing, click on the first photo and scroll through using your arrow keys.

All photos courtesy of yours truly

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