A Step-By-Step Guide To The Masters Tournament
Lined with tall trees, exotic flowers, and ponds on what seems like every hole, The Masters Tournament occurs every April, and is a special highlight of the PGA Tour. Played in Augusta Georgia at the prestigious Augusta National Golf Club, the Masters, is unique among the four major golf Championships. (For those of you who don't know, the four “majors” men’s golf Championships are: the Masters (April), PGA Championship (May), U.S. Open (June), and The Open Championship (July)!) The Masters is conducted by a private club, and it is the only one of the four major golf championships that does not rotate venues. Every year, invited players return to the beautiful course; a few probably with some ghosts from previous years while seeming all return with high hopes.
A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO THE MASTERS TOURNAMENT
This tournament is said to be “rich with tradition”, incredibility exclusive, and a bit of a grind for the players. But as I was watching this year, I realized that I couldn’t tell you why any of the above was claimed. Because,I'm relativity new to golf, all I really knew for sure was that the tournament was held in Augusta, GA and aired by CBS. (lol!)
Furthermore, unfortunately, information on the Masters is not just a quick Google away but wide-spread across many different sources, and covering many different topics. Therefore, unless you knew someone who grew up on a golf course, or is an avid player, it’s very difficult to get the insights on what this tournament is really about.
Until now… (lol!)
So, if you have found yourself curious about The Masters tournament, it's rich traditions, merchandise and/or curious about why golfers love this tournament, this step by step guide was certainly written for you!
There are really five things you really need to know about the Championship Tournament: attending, the schedule, the food, the traditions, and the merchandise.
But prepare yourself, this post is a long one...
Let's hit it. :)
THE INVITE TO THE MASTERS
Although CBS shows what looks like crowds upon crowds, the Masters is actually known as “the toughest ticket in sports”. Tickets for the practice days + competition days (7 days total) sold in the black market, are rumored to cost between $20,000-$30,000/person! So, for the general public who cannot afford this approach, there are two ways to attend this event: an invite (golf has long been regarded as an “invite” sport) and the lottery.
An invite seems like it's fairly obvious; a member of the general public needs to be invited by someone who has tickets – members, and strategic company partners – but the lottery and how it works, is not.
Every year, members of general public can register online at Augusta.com and place their names in the lottery. They will ask which days you’d like tickets for, practice or competition, and how many tickets you’d like. The more years you enter, the more likely you are to be selected. (I keep thinking this would be an incredible gift too!). But this is not a free lottery. If you are selected, tickets are sold at face value of around $70/ticket – not too pricey!
As for the players, who goes?
Well, not everyone. Yes, even the players have to be invited:
Former winners of the Masters have a lifetime exemption to play in the tournament
Winners of the last five US Open, British Open, PGA and Players Championships
Winner and runner-up from the most recent US Amateur Championship
Winner of the most recent British Amateur Championship and the winner of the most recent Asia Amateur Championship
The top 12 finishers from the previous year’s Masters and the top 4 finishers in last year’s US Open, British Open, and PGA Championship
The top 50 golfers in the world via the Official World Golf Ranking at the end of the last calendar year and from the week prior to the Masters.
And the committee also reserves to right to invite any international golfer it chooses that has not otherwise qualified for the tournament.
THE SCHEDULE OF THE MASTERS
Unlike most golf tournaments, the Masters is a 7-day event (grind) rather than a 4-day event. The schedule is as follows:
Monday » Practice Round
Tuesday » Practice Round + Exclusive Champions Dinner
Wednesday » Practice Round + Par 3 Contest
Thursday » Ceremonial First Tee Shot + Competitive Round
Friday » Competitive Round
Saturday » Competitive Round (often called “Moving Day” because only the top 50 golfers (or anyone within 10 shots of the lead) are left playing; everyone else has missed the cut.)
Sunday » Competitive Round + Green Jacket Award Ceremony (this Sunday is often called “Championship Sunday”)
PRO TIP: A "round" of golf typically refers to 9 or 18 holes. In pro events (PGA/LPGA) a round is 18 holes.
Now that you know the schedule's rough outline, there's more to come on the schedule below under "The Rich Tradition of the Masters"! :)
THE FOOD (AND DRINKS)
While I haven’t heard of many people attending The Masters only for the food, it is regarded as a great part of the event. And it's not over the top, or overpriced. The grounds have several concessions all of which include sandwiches, desserts like cookies, candy and ice cream, beverages and yes, beer. A Masters classic is the Pimento Cheese Sandwich. Above all, Golf.com noted that if you bought everything on the menu at Augusta National, it would cost you about $60. The most expensive items on the menu in 2019 were $3.00 sandwiches and $5 beers because the prices haven’t changed since 1972!
I know what you may be thinking...
And yes, The Master is also known as the cheapest food in sports.
Golf in the Georgia sunshine + yummy inexpensive food? Yes, please!
Side note: while imported and domestic beers are the main drink served at the event there are several fun cocktails to make if you’re hosting a Master’s party, including the Azalea cocktail (one of the flowers on the course) and the Arnold Palmer (one of the legendary players in the sport, and known as part of “The Big Three")!
THE RICH TRADITIONS OF THE MASTERS
The championship itself is less than a hundred years old, but that hasn’t stopped the development of traditions, with a new one added in 2015.
Let’s bring it way back for a quick minute to give you some idea of dates. That way it'll put the traditions in context!
From the beginning now! Bobby Jones was the founder of the tournament, which was first held the on March 22, 1934, and called the “Augusta National Invitational” tournament. By 1939 the Augusta National Invitational tournament would change its name to the Masters Tournament.
THE MAIN TRADITIONS
Magnolia Lane. Magnolia Lane is the welcoming drive up to the clubhouse – pictured above. Lined on either side with Magnolia trees, visitors must adhere to the speed limit of 10mph! *Swoon*
The Champions’ Dinner on Tuesday night. Ben Hogan started the Champions Dinner to honor past tournament champions in 1952. Only past Masters winners are invited to this prestigious Tuesday night dinner at the Clubhouse along with the club chairman joining as an honorary member. And the defending champion gets the honor of selecting the menu and hosting the event. Most hosts choose a menu that is representative of the regional cuisine of their homeland.
The Par 3 Contest on Wednesday. In 1960 the par 3 contest was introduced and played on the Wednesday before the start of the competitive rounds. This event is really fun and allows you to see another side of the players lives since many players have their children, and wives serving as caddies. They also always seem to be in an festive mood. The first year was the only year that a player has ever won the contest! That’s right – there are no winners of this round! It’s just for fun. :)
Sorry to hit pause...
But doesn't that just make you want to get out on the course right now? Yes? Well, don’t forget your free checklist. Click below and get it ASAP!
And now back to...
The Opening Ceremony on Thursday. In 2015, the Big Three (Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player) started the opening ceremony at the Masters by hitting the opening shots. And this continues today, always with a legend of the tournament taking the opening shots. Augusta, the official Masters song written by David Loggins in 1981 and recorded in 1982, is played during this ceremony.
The Course History. Sit on the 16th hole during the practice days and watch players skip their ball across the water and onto the green. Get your picture taken at “Amen Corner” – the intersection of Rae’s Creek & the 13th fairway. And did you know that each and every hole is named after the exotic plant that surrounds it? Azaleas, dogwoods, junipers and magnolias – to name a few. Every bit of this course reflects a bit of history – another reason golf lovers, love it!
The Green Jacket. The winner of the Masters tournament becomes an honorary member of the club and is awarded a fitted green jacket at the coveted Green Jacket Awards Ceremony. This ceremony takes place at sunset on Sunday immediately following the competition. The year after their victory the champion returns the jacket to the clubhouse. There it's stored in a special room at the clubhouse with the other victor’s jackets and is not supposed to be removed. The green jacket is one of the most sought-after trophies in golf. But green jackets aren’t exclusive to just the players! In 1937, members of Augusta National Club started the tradition of wearing their signature green jackets to the ceremony as well.
Club Rules. Finally, the club has a policy that no cell phones or cameras are allowed on the course Thursday-Sunday! I hope this is a tradition that sticks for a long, long, long time.
Finally, one of the best parts of the Masters is shopping for merchandise, if you can believe it! (lol!). Word of mouth is that the merchandise often sells out by the second or third day of the event. Why? Because clothing and memorabilia is purchased onsite and in person. Augusta National does not sell merchandise online or anywhere else. So, if you see someone wearing Master's merchandise, it's because they either attended, or they know someone who attended. And should you, yourself have the opportunity to attend, plan to be spend some money on merchandise!
Is the toughest ticket in sports (for general public and the players)
Has the cheapest food in sports
Is a 7 day event, filled with fun and fierce competition
Involves rich traditions and a lot of course history
Has very exclusive merchandise
So, what do you think? Feeling 'in-the-know' now? Excited for next year’s tournament? I certainly am!
BTW- this is my third year entering lottery - wish me luck! :)
And don’t forget your free checklist for when you’re ready to get out there! Click below and get it ASAP!