Monday, April 6, 2015

15 Insights for the Novice Masters Attendee

In the weeks leading up to the Masters, I scoured the Internet looking for tips and insights on how to approach my ever-so-fortunate Saturday at the Masters. The “planner” in me wanted to have some semblance of structure….and to not look like a wide-eyed, dumbfounded kid in a candy castle. Yet surprisingly, it was very difficult to find anything beyond the standard media and AP articles. On a few forums, a patron or two “willingly” gave up their favorite viewing spots, but other than that…nothing.

It’s only taken me a year, but in honor of the upcoming Masters, here are 10 random observations about the Masters that you may not know:

1. No electronics - They're serious. Don't. Even. Try it. Upon entry you go through metal detectors and there will be no warning. Your ticket will be taken and you’ll end up with sitting in some trashy Augusta restaurant, tears in your eyes, drowning your sorrows in bottomless Miller fucking lites. BUT, if you do end up on the other side - frolicking in the absurdly manicured green grass - remember that you have to act like its 1995 and establish a “get lost” meeting point with your friend.

2. Dapper Pay Phone Booths - In one section of the course, past one of the many concession stands, you’ll find three rows of telephone booths. Yes telephone booths. Like the old school Bell Atlantic pay phones, just dappered out with some Masters-colored green framing. These telephone booths are there for one reason – to call your jealous friends and remind them that you’re at the Masters. Naturally calls are free but remember to bring a piece of paper with some phone numbers scribbled down (because the only number you probably still remember is your home phone growing up).

3. Tee Sheet BFF - When you walk through the gates, you're handed a one page tee sheet with a schedule of the golfers’ tee time and a course map on the other side.  For 8 hours, this is gold. DO NOT LOSE IT. Use it to stalk golfers. Use it to pre-plan seating locations (e.g. stake your claim next to a tee box BEFORE Adam Scott walks up blast a drive).

4. Buy a chair, leave the chair, return to the chair - The massively awesome gift shop is beckons you to spend a month’s paycheck on memorabilia. But for $30 (cheaper than a crapper camper chair at Dick’s Sporting Goods) you can buy a Masters camping chair. Why? Well, once the gates open, you can place that chair nearly anywhere on the course. Just put your name on it and walk away. No one will move it (this is hallowed grounds, thou shall not steal at the Masters). Last year, I put my chair 2 rows off the 18th green and was able to come back later in the day, to relax and watch the final groups roll through.

5. The Patron - You're referred to as a patron. Not a visitor. Not an attendee. A patron.

6. Embrace the roar - Without a phone to check scores, the large white scoreboards dotted throughout the course become your method of tracking the leaders. For instance, you’re sitting in your beautifully placed green chair on the 18th green when you hear a load roar from to your 2 o’ clock. Quickly you unfold your tee sheet to get a sense of the possible Hole number and do mental math to determine the possible pairing on the hole. The crowd begins to whisper and wait in anticipation. You and 50 other pairs of eyes dart to the scoreboard… And slowly, like changing the inning at a baseball game, you see that your favorite player climbed one on the leader board.

7. Bugs – You can leave your bug spray at home, there are no bugs on the course. Zilch. They're been eradicated by an unknown force (probably high-grade, flower-scented, Monsanto juice). Hmmmm, don’t think about it and move onto the next tip.

8. Impeccable Service and Efficiency - From the lines in the concession stands and the corrals at the gift shops to the plethora of bathroom attendants, you are treated with every ounce of respect and full service. Every bathroom stall is wiped down before you go in. Every gift shop corral has two people smiling and happily bagging your gifts (which, by the way, are stored in a back room so you don't have to lug your 5 bags of overly-zealous purchases around the course). And the efficiency of which you move through said lines would make a German engineer class jealous.

9. Concession Prices - Remember that middle finger the Masters committee gave to their sponsors a few years back? "You know what...we don't need you guys and this noise. We're going to broadcast the Masters commercial-free." The point is, the Masters committee is not out to make a profit on their patrons. Concession prices have been frozen in time (e.g. beers are $3).

10. Concession food - Now what can you get at said concession corral? Think Southern mom packing your school lunch in the 6th grade. White bread and pimento cheese. Ham and cheese on white. Carefully wrapped, sliced diagonally.

11. Zero non-Masters branding - It isn’t apparent until you get there but everything is Masters green. Basically, the committee said, there’s no f-ing way that a camera catches a patron drinking a Gatorade and they get free advertising.

12. Souvenir cup bandits - Each Gatorade (err "sports drink") or "light beer" that you buy comes in a awesome plastic souvenir cup. Don't be surprised if you see the 26 year, croakie-wearing frat brother, foraging for renegade souvenir cups at the end of the day. (NOTE: I did not forage for any of my cups)

13. The course is NOT FLAT - The oceans of hills, bends, and dips are flattened out by TV cameras. The elevation changes from tee to green are ridiculous and you’ll find that you may have to actually exert some energy. Just remember if the course is wet, it’ll be slippery.

14. Attire - It shouldn’t need to be said but don’t be an idiot and wear jeans. Wear golf attire… However, chose wisely on the shoe choice. I wore boat shoes, which seemed like a great choice; HOWEVER, the pathways between holes are layered with turf-like rubber. You think a rock in your shoe is annoying? Try 5 million little rubber pieces.

15. Stay in Columbia, SC - I'm going to be honest, outside of the golf course, Augusta didn't look like a place I’d want to hang out for a few days. So if you want to get away from the crowds and avoid the price gauging hotel fares, fly into Columbia airport in South Carolina. It’s a beautiful artsy college town with good restaurants and hotels. And it's only a short, one hour drive, which you won't even remember because you're too hopped up on adrenaline

That’s all I got… Happy Masters eve.