scottinkc

1st time visitor to the Masters Tournament

54 posts in this topic

First off, I'm a new member to this board and have already enjoyed reading many of the threads.

Now to my question:

I'm taking my dad to Augusta this year for the final round of The Masters Tournament for his 80th birthday. Neither of us have ever been and it will be a suprise to him.

What I'm looking for is advice regarding the following:

- time to arrive (for both parking and lining up at the gate)
- best gates to enter through
- best spectator vantage point (as an 80 year old, he'll want to park someplace for the day - I'm think #12)

In short, any advice that would make this trip as smooth as possible.

Thanks in advance for your input.
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Wow! What a GREAT present. You and your father are going to have some fantastic memories. I've been lucky enough to go to the Masters about a dozen times. Augusta National is a very special place. They treat all the patrons very well. You will find the crowds to be very respectful.

Here are my thoughts on your questions.

Time to arrive: Earlier arrival gets better seats but you will be fine even if you arrive later in the day. There are no corporate tents or bleachers. The members (very few) get a small area and the rest is general admission. We usually arrive 1 hour before the first tee time and get great seats.

Gates - Decide in advance where you want to sit and then park near that gate. There is a back gate which puts you close to #12. Plan to pay $25-$30 for parking. You can usually park pretty close. Most of the houses in the area allow pay parking on their lawns.

Best place to sit - The bank by #12 is great. You can see approach shots from #11, all of #12, and tee shots for #13. My favorite spot is between the #2 and #7 greens. You can see both greens and tee shots for #3. Another great spot is in the bleachers by the green on #13. Bring your own soft chairs (they can't have armrests).

Concessions are VERY cheap. $2 beers and $2 sandwiches. Also, buy your hats, shirts, etc early at the stand as you enter the course. Get your seats in place, leave your Dad and then head back to buy your stuff. The main shop will have a long wait during the tournament and a VERY long wait afterwards.
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2 small points to add to Striper's thorough post......

1. When they say "no cell phones", they mean no cell phones.
2. There's a Hooters about a half mile away that imports girls from around the state just for the Masters....... highly recommended!

You have a hotel room already, right?
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Quite a present! I would say no matter where you sit, it will be awesome. However, you can always sit right next to the 16th green, just a few feet from where Tiger chipped in from during the '05 Masters.
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Wow! What a GREAT present. You and your father are going to have some fantastic memories. I've been lucky enough to go to the Masters about a dozen times. Augusta National is a very special place. They treat all the patrons very well. You will find the crowds to be very respectful.

We will get there on Saturday, but only have badges for Sunday. I had read somewhere that there is merchandise for sale "outside of Gates 6 & 9. If so, I was thinking of getting that out of the way on Saturday. Can you confirm? Thanks!
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2 small points to add to Striper's thorough post......

Yes. Staying in Aiken, SC on Saturday. Do you have any input on the traffic and what kind of delays a person might encounter. Thanks!
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The National has bought up a lot of property on the other side of Berkman's Rd (the road that runs down beside the National, the road the runs in front of it is Washington Rd., which is the main drag in to Augusta from I-20) and turned it all into patron's parking. They've closed all of the old parton's parking that was inside the National and replaced it with this new area. It's huge and last year supposedly parking was available all day long (in the past the patron's lots filled up fast and were closed for the day). So parking shouldn't be as big of a problem as it has been in the past. There is one gift shop that you can get to without having a patron's pass. I don't know the gate number but it's on Berkman's Rd. The good thing about going on Sunday is that with the field paired down play doesn't usually get started until 10 or 11AM. So you don't have to get there when the gates open to get good seats. With your father I'd recommend you stick with the provided stadium style seating that is available at a few places around the course. There is one great set of bleachers along side the 13th fairway that also provides a great view of the 14th's tee box. I've gone down there before on a Sunday early before any of the players made it that far and got seats at the front and stayed there all day and let the players come to me. Concessions (and bathrooms) are conveniently located everywhere and the two of you could grab great seats and hang onto them all day with no problem. Just don't forget the sunscreen. One aspect locals enjoy is seeing all of the visitors sporting serious sunburn all week.
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Yes. Staying in Aiken, SC on Saturday. Do you have any input on the traffic and what kind of delays a person might encounter. Thanks!

Traffic is always heavy early and late in the day as people are trying to get to and from the course. In the middle of the day and in the evenings, especially during the tournament (thur-sun), traffic is surprisingly light. Expect I-20 to slow way down coming in from SC and the other direction from Atlanta at these times too. They are currently expanding I-20 all along the Augusta exchanges, but those projects won't be finished for a few more years. They do stop all construction tournament week and open up everything they can to help with the congestion, but still expect delays. The smart play driving in from Aiken would be to take SR278 (aka the Aiken-Augusta Highway/Jefferson Davis Highway) into Augusta. This will take you into South Augusta. 278 is also called Gordon Highway as it crosses the Savannah River into Georgia. Take this for about 5 or so miles once in Georgia until you reach Highland Avenue. Take a right on Highland. Highland crosses Wrightsboro Rd and takes a bit of an "S" curve/turn as it crosses Walton Way (first a left onto Walton Way and then an immediate right onto Berkman's Rd.). At this point Highland Avenue becomes Berkman's Rd. Stay on Berkman's and you'll come right up to the National and all of the available parking. Expect traffic to slowdown on Highland as you near Walton Way. All along Walton Way traffic will be heading to the National and people will be taking backroads through the neighborhoods to get to course parking. Once Highland crosses Wrightsboro Rd. it's all residential. I'd stay on Berkman's though because it'll be easiest for you not to get lost and you'll probably get there just as fast as the people going through the neighborhoods. Follow this same way going back to aiken and you'll miss most of the traffic.

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I only dream of attending the Masters on a Sunday. From what I hear they are the hardest ticket to come by and if you do, it's ridiculously expensive. I am sure your father will truly appreciate your gift and I hope you get a great Tiger showing.
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I'm so jealous. That's probably the one golf tournament I would like to see live and in person before I die. It looks like you've got some great advise.

Have a great time.
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Traffic is always heavy early and late in the day as people are trying to get to and from the course. In the middle of the day and in the evenings, especially during the tournament (thur-sun), traffic is surprisingly light. Expect I-20 to slow way down coming in from SC and the other direction from Atlanta at these times too. They are currently expanding I-20 all along the Augusta exchanges, but those projects won't be finished for a few more years. They do stop all construction tournament week and open up everything they can to help with the congestion, but still expect delays. The smart play driving in from Aiken would be to take SR278 (aka the Aiken-Augusta Highway/Jefferson Davis Highway) into Augusta. This will take you into South Augusta. 278 is also called Gordon Highway as it crosses the Savannah River into Georgia. Take this for about 5 or so miles once in Georgia until you reach Highland Avenue. Take a right on Highland. Highland crosses Wrightsboro Rd and takes a bit of an "S" curve/turn as it crosses Walton Way (first a left onto Walton Way and then an immediate right onto Berkman's Rd.). At this point Highland Avenue becomes Berkman's Rd. Stay on Berkman's and you'll come right up to the National and all of the available parking. Expect traffic to slowdown on Highland as you near Walton Way. All along Walton Way traffic will be heading to the National and people will be taking backroads through the neighborhoods to get to course parking. Once Highland crosses Wrightsboro Rd. it's all residential. I'd stay on Berkman's though because it'll be easiest for you not to get lost and you'll probably get there just as fast as the people going through the neighborhoods. Follow this same way going back to aiken and you'll miss most of the traffic.

Great Info. Thanks Chief! Just for my own knowledge...what time does it start to get congested? Thanks again....I really appreciate it.
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I only dream of attending the Masters on a Sunday. From what I hear they are the hardest ticket to come by and if you do, it's ridiculously expensive. I am sure your father will truly appreciate your gift and I hope you get a great Tiger showing.

I enjoy going to the practive rounds more-so than the tournament. It is a lot more laid back and you are able to take your camera. Also the practice round tickets are A LOT less expensive (approx $200 -$400 vs $2000 - $4000) and easier to come by.

The Masters is something every golfer should experience at least once in his lifetime.
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Traffic is always heavy early and late in the day as people are trying to get to and from the course. In the middle of the day and in the evenings, especially during the tournament (thur-sun), traffic is surprisingly light. Expect I-20 to slow way down coming in from SC and the other direction from Atlanta at these times too. They are currently expanding I-20 all along the Augusta exchanges, but those projects won't be finished for a few more years. They do stop all construction tournament week and open up everything they can to help with the congestion, but still expect delays. The smart play driving in from Aiken would be to take SR278 (aka the Aiken-Augusta Highway/Jefferson Davis Highway) into Augusta. This will take you into South Augusta. 278 is also called Gordon Highway as it crosses the Savannah River into Georgia. Take this for about 5 or so miles once in Georgia until you reach Highland Avenue. Take a right on Highland. Highland crosses Wrightsboro Rd and takes a bit of an "S" curve/turn as it crosses Walton Way (first a left onto Walton Way and then an immediate right onto Berkman's Rd.). At this point Highland Avenue becomes Berkman's Rd. Stay on Berkman's and you'll come right up to the National and all of the available parking. Expect traffic to slowdown on Highland as you near Walton Way. All along Walton Way traffic will be heading to the National and people will be taking backroads through the neighborhoods to get to course parking. Once Highland crosses Wrightsboro Rd. it's all residential. I'd stay on Berkman's though because it'll be easiest for you not to get lost and you'll probably get there just as fast as the people going through the neighborhoods. Follow this same way going back to aiken and you'll miss most of the traffic.

Also, for those coming down from the N.E. down I-85, you can shave a couple of hours off your driving time by getting off on the HWY 17 Lavonia exit and head south. This road is a straight shot down to Thomson at I-20 only about 20 miles west of Augusta.

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I agree with your comment about the practice rounds. They are THE best way to enjoy the course and the players. I've seen players stop and pose briefly for pictures with fans who ask (with respect). We usually get them through the lottery but have purchased Tues. tickets for about $50 each just outside the gate.

Also, the atmosphere on #16 during a practice round is a bit like what you see at the FBR...but a bit more reserved. Plenty of good natured interaction between players and fans.

Even though it's great to be there on the weekend, the best place to watch the tournament is at home on HDTV.
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Yes. Staying in Aiken, SC on Saturday. Do you have any input on the traffic and what kind of delays a person might encounter. Thanks!

We always stayed in Aiken too......The Comfort Inn if I remember right. Get going early, at least 2 hours before the gates open, and the traffic isn't really all that bad.

BTW.....don't know if your dad plays, but we always got there a day early and played golf at the Aiken golf club. Kind of a little dog track, but nice folks and a lot of fun. Here's a tip......everything breaks towards the train tracks!
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Also, the atmosphere on #16 during a practice round is a bit like what you see at the FBR...but a bit more reserved. Plenty of good natured interaction between players and fans.

One of the neatest things I ever saw..... Practice round a couple of years ago. Tom Lehman finished hitting a couple of shots on 16......of course, they all tried a couple of the mandatory "skip it across the water" shots.....then Lehman walks over to the bleachers and picks up a youngster about 9 years old. Takes him back to the tee box and drops down two balls and hands the kid a club. Lehman's caddy grabs dad's camera and starts taking pics of the whole thing. Of course the kid immediately blades both balls into the water, but who the hell cares?! Lehman takes the kid back to dad, signs a ball for him, one more round of pics for everyone and away they go. Very cool......I bet dad was more impressed than the kid!
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Great Info. Thanks Chief! Just for my own knowledge...what time does it start to get congested? Thanks again....I really appreciate it.

Traffic probably starts stacking up after 6AM. I-20 and Washington Rd are the worst because that's where the greatest number of people are coming.

On Sundays I've waited until 10-11AM to head up to the course and park in one of the neighborhoods behind National Hills (a little shopping center across from the National on Wash Rd, and also the name of the residential area behind it), park for free, and walk in the main gate (not Magnolia Lane that's for players and memebers only), all in the space of about 15 minutes. Knowing where you are going and living only few miles from the course helps naturally. Traffic and congestion is actually lighter during the tournament as opposed to the practice rounds. Tournament badges are all taken, but during the practice rounds a lot of people hang out in the general vacinity of the course because they know practice badges can easily be found. An old trick is to wait by the gates for people coming out and you can usually get someone to give you there's for free or for a few bucks. Once the tournament starts if you don't have badges or aren't willing to pay top dollar for one ($2-4K) those people go home.
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