Jump to content
iacas

Observations from My First Trip to the Masters

11 posts / 1392 viewsLast Reply

Recommended Posts

So this past year I went to the Masters for the first time. It was honestly one of the things pushing me to finish my work and to become a Class A PGA member.

Like many, I have some observations. Unlike many, I don't know that you'll hear these observations from too many people.

These are in no particular order at all.

The Elevation Changes
You hear it from almost everyone. They set foot on the grounds and can't believe how much elevation change is down the tenth hole, or even down the second and up the eighth. Me? I was not surprised at all. The 10th looked and felt about exactly as I thought it would. Ditto every other hole on the course. The only elevation change that surprised me was the front of the fifth green, and that's mostly because you rarely see someone short there, and you really only see that hole covered at all on Saturday and Sunday, briefly, when the leaders play it. And they aren't playing from short of that green, usually.

At any rate, whether it's the many times I've been to, say, Oakmont or Muirfield Village, I think I simply understood how "TV flattens things" and so I guess I pictured what ended up being reality. So, the elevation changes didn't surprise me at all: they were what I thought they'd be.

The Smell
The smell? Yeah, the smell. Augusta National mixes in some fertilizer, most green (or reddish brown, for areas of pine straw) with some pellets of stuff to keep everything looking great. These pellets seem to absorb water and may contain seed or something, too, but all I know is that it smells like used kitty litter. It's really rather gross.

The Course Conditions
They're not the best I've ever seen. Sure, you'll have a hard time finding weeds and things, but the fairways are much more spotty than I thought they'd be. Maybe this spring was not the best, but the conditions at The Memorial, the conditions at the Players, the conditions at several other PGA Tour stops were better this year than they were at Augusta National this year. I suspect players won't want to talk about it because nobody says anything bad about Augusta National, but yeah… the conditions were not up to the level I'd expected to see. (The greens were fine.)

The SubAir
If you want to live out a Marilyn Monroe moment, Augusta National will provide plenty of opportunities, as the vents for the SubAir system are blowing moderately warm air almost constantly when the conditions are even a little wet. I saw people's hats being blown off, dresses being thrown up around people's necks, pairings sheets ripped from people's hands, and children playing over the constantly fast-blowing air from vents stationed around the course. The vents are loud, and exist throughout the course. The steady hum you hear? It's not the murmuring of the crowd. It's the SubAir system.

The Fauna
A player told a fellow instructor friend of mine that he'd give him $20 for every bird he spotted and $100 for every squirrel. Though we eventually saw about five birds on the one day we were looking, we saw no squirrels or chipmunks. We walked with this player's father for a number of holes, too, and this father is a member at neighboring Augusta Country Club. I asked him "Do you have squirrels and chipmunks there?" He said "Yes, tons, and we even have some deer and other animals." I replied "Then why aren't there any squirrels here?" After all, I added, the trees literally co-mingle. There's not a wide stream separating the two properties, or even a fence or something else. He said "They aren't members." I chuckled at the joke but he couldn't cite any reason he knew why ANGC was completely devoid of most fauna.

FWIW, this also includes bees, mosquitoes, and other insects. You'll find a few ants, and a few bees, and some dragonfly (dragonflies?), but even near the magnolias and the flowers, the insect count is much, much lower than you'd suspect it should be. The bird noises are absolutely piped in, by the way. We found some speakers, and there are plenty of times you can hear a bird noise coming from a very specific spot, and yet… there's no bird there at all.

The Food Prices
For breakfast, the chicken or sausage biscuits were $1.50 or so. Pop (soda?) is about $1.50. Beer is $4 (domestic) or $5 (imported), I think, and all the drinks come in collectible cups, with the imported beers coming in green and the rest of the beverages (they had iced tea and "sports drink" too) coming in the frosted clear cups). It was not unusual to see people walking around with 20+ cups in a stack. Some even fished them out of waste bins. I took a few home each day (though only got one green one, as I'm not a big beer drinker - it sitting in an empty grandstand).

The Employees
By "employees" I mean anyone and everyone associated with the tournament: merchandise staff, the security people, the marshals, etc. They say that Disney World is the happiest place on earth, but the nicest people on earth might just be any employee during the Masters. They're constantly asking you whether you're having a great day, and taking the steps to make sure you have a great day. They're the nicest people I've ever encountered in this large a number. It's ridiculous. Even people misbehaving or doing things badly would be treated nicely - firmly, but incredibly nicely. "Sir, please, you cannot do that, please get down from that tree. Thank you sir. It's for your own protection and well-being. I really hope you enjoy the rest of your day at The Masters."

The Spectators (Patrons)
I cannot believe how many dumb comments I heard from the "patrons" throughout the week. I sat by the second green on Thursday (Tiger made birdie), and after four hours of watching most golfers make birdie or par (and an occasional but rare bogey), the woman seated beside me on the rope line behind the green asked "is this a par 3 or a par 4?" She'd been coming to the Masters for over 15 years. People routinely asked dumb questions: "What hole is this?" standing on the tee box pointing to #12 green. Or beneath the big "10" on a pole at the tenth tee. I feel like, if you're between the ages of 25 and 50, and you have Masters tickets, you should have to pass a simple quiz consisting of 5-10 very basic questions before you're admitted on to the property. If you fail, your tickets are given to someone waiting who gets a perfect score. Questions would include:

  • What color jacket does the winner get?
  • What was the last name of the famous amateur golfer who founded Augusta National?
  • The 16th hole is a par ___?
  • A golf ball is what shape (choose one): round, rectangular, triangular.

For far too many it was clear that their yearly trip to the Masters was entirely about the social scene or being able to say you were there or something.

The Cell Phone Policy
On one hand, it's nice. On the other, it's a complete load of crap even if you're WORKING at the event as an instructor or media personality. You cannot coordinate anything, including meeting up with players and/or fellow instructors (or fellow reporters). You can take a camera on the course on M-W, but your cell phone must be checked at the gate or, better yet, left in your car. It's nice that people's hands are free - they actually clap instead of yelling stupid things - and that they mostly pay attention. Which is great. But for professionals… meh. Next year: Apple Watch with cellular. Not for calls (mine hasn't made a noise in years)… but just for texting friends/students about meeting up.

The Golf Watching
Honestly, it kinda sucks. Yes, you can hear the roars from all over the place, but you honestly have very little idea how anyone really stands. On Thursday, from behind the #2 green, I could see one leaderboard: the one on the third hole. It wasn't always updated promptly, and they were reluctant to take players off once they'd made it on because they'd have to take down 12-15 numbers plus the name. I had no idea how Tiger stood until I caught him again making a par on 15 (he'd birdied 14, IIRC, just before). There are no TVs and nothing electronic, and no earpiece radios, nothing… so you really have no idea how the tournament stands if you're out on the course. They could have TVs in the concession areas, I'd think, but no: you just have to guess, and watch the golf in front of you. Meh.

The Merchandise Tent
It's big. The line moves relatively quickly. It's very, very easy to over-spend. But you'll be happy about it.

What I want to note though is how good the shipping and bag storage areas are. If you choose for them to store your bag for the day, you get some tickets. They scan your tickets, and direct you to a spot, like "Please sir go to station four" and, despite station four being only eight steps away… your checked bags with all of your merchandise purchases are there waiting for you when you get to the station. I have no idea how they do this, as your tickets were scanned only ten seconds prior. I'd love to know the inner workings here - it is easily one of the most mind-blowingly efficient systems I have ever seen.

The Practice Range
I'll tell you what: some of the best watching is in the grandstands behind the range. You'll see players and coaches hanging out, working on stuff. You'll see some of the old guys breaking out their clubs for what feels like the first time in six months (hola, Fuzzy!), doing everything they can not to hit the first few balls. You'll see Alex Noren's bizarre ass practice routine where he aims 40° left, and hits the ball 20° right. The putting green (though there are no grandstands) is equally entertaining. Less so are the pitching/chipping areas to the far left. But still, as you enter or leave, you'll see some guys out there getting in some work.

That's It
I think that's it. I'll add to the above list as needed.

BTW, I took photos on Monday and Tuesday, mostly, but I haven't even pulled them off the memory card. I don't know, I won't say I was underwhelmed, but I specifically tried to avoid getting overhyped about it so as not to be let down, and everything just… lived up to what I expected, which wasn't a ton. It just met expectations - it was what I thought it would be. Except how nice everyone was - that was a pretty nifty surprise, and the merchandise checked bag efficiency.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

Want to hide this ad? Register for free today!

18 minutes ago, iacas said:

These pellets seem to absorb water and may contain seed or something, too, but all I know is that it smells like used kitty litter. It's really rather gross.

I didn't really notice that when I went. Maybe it's because I have allergies like 365 days a year. I could have a stuffy nose that day. 

19 minutes ago, iacas said:

A player told a fellow instructor friend of mine that he'd give him $20 for every bird he spotted and $100 for every squirrel. Though we eventually saw about five birds on the one day we were looking, we saw no squirrels or chipmunks

I never even noticed this part. It's really strange. 

20 minutes ago, iacas said:

I have no idea how they do this, as your tickets were scanned only ten seconds prior. I'd love to know the inner workings here - it is easily one of the most mind-blowingly efficient systems I have ever seen.

Imagine that on a packed practice round day, and they tell everyone to evacuate the course due to incoming weather. My dad an I were in an out in less than 5 minutes. It was pretty crazy how good they are at getting your stuff from storage to you. 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

3 minutes ago, iacas said:

The Elevation Changes
You hear it from almost everyone. They set foot on the grounds and can't believe how much elevation change is down the tenth hole, or even down the second and up the eighth. Me? I was not surprised at all. The 10th looked and felt about exactly as I thought it would. Ditto every other hole on the course. The only elevation change that surprised me was the front of the fifth green, and that's mostly because you rarely see someone short there, and you really only see that hole covered at all on Saturday and Sunday, briefly, when the leaders play it. And they aren't playing from short of that green, usually.

At any rate, whether it's the many times I've been to, say, Oakmont or Muirfield Village, I think I simply understood how "TV flattens things" and so I guess I pictured what ended up being reality. So, the elevation changes didn't surprise me at all: they were what I thought they'd be.

I have much less experience going to tournaments than you, but I had a similar reaction, mostly because I've heard forever about how much elevation change there was.

3 minutes ago, iacas said:

The Fauna
A player told a fellow instructor friend of mine that he'd give him $20 for every bird he spotted and $100 for every squirrel. Though we eventually saw about five birds on the one day we were looking, we saw no squirrels or chipmunks. We walked with this player's father for a number of holes, too, and this father is a member at neighboring Augusta Country Club. I asked him "Do you have squirrels and chipmunks there?" He said "Yes, tons, and we even have some deer and other animals." I replied "Then why aren't there any squirrels here?" After all, I added, the trees literally co-mingle. There's not a wide stream separating the two properties, or even a fence or something else. He said "They aren't members." I chuckled at the joke but he couldn't cite any reason he knew why ANGC was completely devoid of most fauna.

FWIW, this also includes bees, mosquitoes, and other insects. You'll find a few ants, and a few bees, and some dragonfly (dragonflies?), but even near the magnolias and the flowers, the insect count is much, much lower than you'd suspect it should be. The bird noises are absolutely piped in, by the way. We found some speakers, and there are plenty of times you can hear a bird noise coming from a very specific spot, and yet… there's no bird there at all.

Another thing I'd heard about but noticed on my own too. I can't say I was looking for bugs, but I too didn't see a single squirrel. 

3 minutes ago, iacas said:

The Food Prices
For breakfast, the chicken or sausage biscuits were $1.50 or so. Pop (soda?) is about $1.50. Beer is $4 (domestic) or $5 (imported), I think, and all the drinks come in collectible cups, with the imported beers coming in green and the rest of the beverages (they had iced tea and "sports drink" too) coming in the frosted clear cups). It was not unusual to see people walking around with 20+ cups in a stack. Some even fished them out of waste bins. I took a few home each day (though only got one green one, as I'm not a big beer drinker - it sitting in an empty grandstand).

The best part of this was that I was there on a particularly warm day, so it was nice to just be able to swing by a concession stand and grab another "sports drink" or "diet cola" and only be out a buck or two. I honestly thing I had 10-12 cups worth, because why not? If I tried that at the PGA or U.S. Open I'd go bankrupt in a day or two. 

3 minutes ago, iacas said:

The Employees
By "employees" I mean anyone and everyone associated with the tournament: merchandise staff, the security people, the marshals, etc. They say that Disney World is the happiest place on earth, but the nicest people on earth might just be any employee during the Masters. They're constantly asking you whether you're having a great day, and taking the steps to make sure you have a great day. They're the nicest people I've ever encountered in this large a number. It's ridiculous. Even people misbehaving or doing things badly would be treated nicely - firmly, but incredibly nicely. "Sir, please, you cannot do that, please get down from that tree. Thank you sir. It's for your own protection and well-being. I really hope you enjoy the rest of your day at The Masters."

They even had the nicest security contractors I've ever met. We struck up a conversation with one guy in the grandstands behind the first green for a bit during a gap in practice round groups teeing off. 

3 minutes ago, iacas said:

The Cell Phone Policy
On one hand, it's nice. On the other, it's a complete load of crap even if you're WORKING at the event as an instructor or media personality. You cannot coordinate anything, including meeting up with players and/or fellow instructors (or fellow reporters). You can take a camera on the course on M-W, but your cell phone must be checked at the gate or, better yet, left in your car. It's nice that people's hands are free - they actually clap instead of yelling stupid things - and that they mostly pay attention. Which is great. But for professionals… meh. Next year: Apple Watch with cellular. Not for calls (mine hasn't made a noise in years)… but just for texting friends/students about meeting up.

I definitely had a few moments where one would have been nice to have (and totally agree that it's crazy for people working there to not be able to have them), but at the other tournaments I've been constantly shocked how cavalier people are about using their phones to make calls. 

The Masters is also the only tournament (among itself, the PGA, the U.S. Open, and the Dell Technologies Championship) that I've been to the past two years that has allowed me to bring in a drawstring bag. It was a practice round, yes, but as far as I can tell there's nothing that makes them against the rules for regular rounds.

That was great - not only did it fit my camera bag, but the big thing was I could bring in sunscreen. I had to buy some at the U.S. Open, and to fit it comfortably in my pocket at the PGA I brought a bottle so small I ran out mid-day. (I'm very white.)

3 minutes ago, iacas said:

You'll see Alex Noren's bizarre ass practice routine where he aims 40° left, and hits the ball 20° right. 

I followed him during his practice round (with Justin Rose and Thorbjorn Olesen) at the PGA, and I kept missing getting a picture of that. Here's the closest I got:

DSC01253.jpeg

Weirdly, his putting stroke isn't far off:

DSC01238.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

Good write up, it's been a long time since I have been so a few things are new to me, but overall I think if people visiting and those playing or associated with players were honest it would line up pretty well with your thoughts.  I think people just want to keep that majestic thought on top of everything else.  When I played the Old Course when I lived in England I couldn't get over the fact that I was playing there, but once the dust settled I couldn't believe how bad of shape it was actually in.

I was stationed in Augusta back in the early to mid 90's and they would do raffles at Gordon Lakes, the Fort Gordon golf course.  I would take a bunch of folks out to lunch and have them sign up and if they got a ticket they would give it to me.  I was lucky enough to go 3 years in a row, which was awesome, but they wanted us to be in uniform, man it was hot.

I used to buy merchandise throughout the year, it was pretty weird ordering things and going to the side gate to pay and pick things up from the guard shack.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

I had similar thoughts the year I was there. I did think the elevation change on 10 and 18 was more than I expected. It was rather stinky and the conditions of Muirfield Village much nicer. I swear they have elves that comb the grass overnight there. I would even say that the private club I used to belong to before it closed abruptly years ago we’re nicer than Augusta National. 

With that being said, it’s still my favorite tournament. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

Number 10 looks like a ski slope, not so much on TV.

The look from behind number 18 tee box is classic. And very narrow.

No cables visible anywhere on the course. Everything is routed underground.

CBS has a huge production presence. Probably more than 15 production trailers all nicely hidden back past the par 3 course.

Edited by ssbn611

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great read. I was surprised to read how cheap the concessions were. I never heard of the air machines. It would be interesting to know how they keep out the pests. That's funny that they pipe in birds chirping. Good to read someone went there and really took everything in. 🤝

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

5 hours ago, ssbn611 said:

Number 10 looks like a ski slope, not so much on TV.

Meh. Looked exactly like I thought it would. I’m at a course now with a much steeper slope on a hole.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

14 minutes ago, weekend hacker1 said:

Piping in bird noises and artificial green colouring. Total fake BS.

Meh, who cares?  I've been once and really enjoyed it except for the smell.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Awards, Achievements, and Accolades

This is a little long and I am not in defense of the Masters or the AugustaNationalGolfClub but a perspective from a local (that has attended since GeorgeArcher won, at least thats the first one I remember).  By the way, the National is weeding out us locals as the badge bearer passes from this earth, and it seems nobody local is being picked up by the lottery.  Here lately (last several years), we see nobody that we know.  This is a golf course that is open for member play from some time before the tournament to end of October.  

Did not realize you had never attended; I thought all working PGA pros got access during tournament week (or some such).  The barnyard odor at this years' event was stuff put on the patron access areas to prevent slipping and falling, whether it was common hay, pinestraw, or that granular.  I have seen many a wet ass in years past, from teenagers to the old girls and it is hilly, whether as much one anticipates or not.  One thing about the Masters is the pride that the membership has to show off the tournament and make it a special visit for the patrons.  Safety first for these folk.  This golf course is changing every year it seems and it held a womens' amatuer just the week before, adding more fans on the course.  Add to this the very real 5-6 inches of rain in that period before opening and an actual 2inches during a terrible storm tournament week (Mon after dark, me thinks) and officials have no choice.  Believe me, many many years, it has no barnyard odors but April also is a typically wet time of the year around here.  otherwise, it smells like $$$.  This hay is spread magically overnight after serious weather passes thruout all areas that are trod upon.  

I'm surprised you did not mention the restroom facilities and staff running them.  How much did parking cost you ?  People can't live without there phone, can they ?  for one day, or half a day, huh ??  Do yall actually think the National runs off the wildlife ?  You see no bugs simply because there is very little bare dirt inside the gates.

The 'sub-air' system was installed several years ago, not that many, so that conditions on the course would be playable as soon as could possibly be; again, this time of the year sees much rain, check past tournaments.  A local company evolved from this technology and is spreading thru the industry.  and it's not that inconvenient or offensive unless you are having the MarilynMonroe moment mentioned and standing directly on top of the exhaust.

It's fairly impossible to follow a favorite golfer; best to set up in a spot and let them come to you - and you'll see plenty golf shots.  Move to another spot and do the same thing.  The grandstands are good for this and stratigically located; hey maybe thats where the roars come from !!  Then go home (or to your room or rental) and watch it on your 55" if you want to watch the tournament and see scores and not put up with other folks.  Remember, you are here to admire the course first, then see golf.

I suppose it's been built up so much by the TV folk that ever body expects a heaven on earth place and it is close but it's only a manmade wonder.  Now you talk about effort, you shoulda seen the tournament and course TWO MONTHS after the icestorm of 2014(?) when Ikes tree was taken out.  An unbelievable achievement that the event and course was even done after that storm if you consider all the 100ft pines that did not go down (i can't imagine how many did).  It was a disaster situation all throughout the area.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.




  • Want to join this community?

    We'd love to have you!

    Sign Up
  • 2019 TST Partners

    PING Golf
    FlightScope Mevo
  • Posts

    • What country do you think has the fastest pace of play? Asking for when I retire
    • 4.5 hours being considered fine is just an American view of the game  I think most Americans would find themselves unwelcome if they didnt adjust to the pace in their weekly rounds elsewhere in the world.
    • Played yesterday and today.  Didn't go so well yesterday as I shot a 106 yesterday as my driver was just all over the place and my ball striking overall left a lot to be desired.  Had 4 GIRs, however, 3 were on the front which was a general theme as shot 49 on the front and 57 on the back. Score: 106 CR/Slope: 71.6/121 2 Pars 5 Bogeys 3 DB 6 TB 1 Quad-Bogey View this round on GAME GOLF   Today I was able to bounce back and although I shot 100, I had control over my driver, was moving the ball right to left or straight off the tee and my ball striking felt better.  2 holes ended up doing me in, though.  After starting with 3 bogeys, which really should have included 1 par, and a double bogey, on the par 3 4th hole, I pushed a 7I right  and subsequently overdrew the ball on my reload and missed short and right on a brutal front right location location on a green that slopped severely from back right to front left.  Over-hit my chip shot that went all the way to the back right of the green, had to chip on and then 3 putt for an 8.  On the Par 4 14th hole, I overdrew 2 tee shots with my 3H OB.  Then chipped out, leaving myself 100 yards, took a three-quarter swing with a 52 degree wedge and left it short right.  Flag was on the front right and I thinned my chip shot, leaving it on the back left of the green.  I then 3 putt for a 10.  That said, drained a few longish putts, but my short game, putter notwithstanding, was brutal as I failed to leave myself any gimmies when chipping.  That said, had another birdie and a few pars so there are definitely positives to take away from the round. Score: 100 CR/Slope: 70.4/124 Birdie: 1 Pars: 3 Bogeys: 6 DB: 6 Others: 2 View this round on GAME GOLF 4 rounds in four days - first time I've been able to do that and it was AWESOME!  Shot 95, 95, 106, 100 so, not too shabby for me. 
    • thank you...already loaded up on TM clubs :/...that being said, I've been working on my tee shot and was wondering how much range time is too much?  have had my M2 driver for about 5 days...have hit about 250ish balls with it already...too much?
    • Yep.  Lagavulin is another.  The Isle of Islay scotches are unique.  A lot of people don’t like the peat and astringent iodine.  Good stuff, but not a beginners whisky!   
  • TST Blog Entries

  • Blog Entries

  • Today's Birthdays

    1. CSkipr
      CSkipr
      (72 years old)
    2. David in FL
      David in FL
      (61 years old)
    3. LaserBeam
      LaserBeam
      (63 years old)
    4. Ratcatcher
      Ratcatcher
      (66 years old)

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Welcome to TST! Signing up is free, and you'll see fewer ads and can talk with fellow golf enthusiasts! By using TST, you agree to our Terms of Use, our Privacy Policy, and our Guidelines.

The popup will be closed in 10 seconds...