Greetings fellow travelers! I have returned from the hallowed ground of Augusta National. I'm grateful to say that this was my third time there for the Friday and Saturday rounds. First visit was in 2011 and then 2016. This was the best time by far as I know the layout and etiquette fairly well.
I attend a few pro tournaments here and there. Last summer I volunteered to work the men's Senior Open at Salem Country Club. I've attended pro-am draw parties for the Deutche Bank (now Dell Tech Championship) and met a few pros - Brandt Snedeker, Charley Hoffman, Ernie Els, Tommy Gainey - and celebs. Tiger spoke at one of the parties and Justin Rose did a long interview the year he won the US Open. I've had tent access at the tourney as well.
At Augusta, on the course, there is no insider or special access for members or those lucky enough to have Berkman Place tickets. They walk the course like the rest of the patrons. One of the things I love most about Augusta is the patron isn't gouged and has real bathrooms - not portables - with attendants keeping the place spotless. As for concessions, a blue moon draft was $5 and domestic beer $4. That's less than half of what we get charged at most other tournaments. Other concession staples are the pimento cheese sandwich for $1.50. A club sandwich or chicken wrap cost $3. And its good!
The one negative about attending is that the hotels jack up prices to ridiculous proportions. The first year we stayed at the HoJo's in Aiken SC. It was tired then but since we spent little time there it was good enough for our needs. We stayed there again this year and they had upgraded recently with new carpet, paint, furniture and sink areas. It was tolerable but made me miss the Towne Place Suites we stayed at 2 years ago (and on points!!!!).
We get asked how to get tickets over and over. We are fortunate to know a patron who offers them to us. We met many people on the course who did get them through the ticket lottery on the masters.com web site. Only one person per household can apply - for both practice rounds and tournament rounds. Next year is the added bonus of a women's amateur on the Saturday before the Masters. If you simply want to wee the course in all her beauty I recommend trying to get those tickets!
The course is just gorgeous. Some of the azaleas were past prime, especially on the par 3 course, but Amen Corner was lush. There are no weeds anywhere. The rough is just grass! Then it ends at pine straw on most holes. I tend to park out on the 16th hole on the side opposite the water. Great to see the golfers walk right past. Also spent some time on the 6th tee box. Witnessed some great golf.
Since you are not allowed to bring phones and cameras on the course, they provide banks of phones where you can call anywhere in the world - gratis. They also take photo's at Founders Circle at the top of Magnolia Lane in front of the club house. Worth standing in line for!
I'm already planning my 2020 visit to THE Open at Royal St Georges in Sandwich England. Last time I attended it there, Sandy Lyle won.
If you are passionate about golf, this is certainly nirvana!