The Masters concession fare is largely the same since the 1970’s. Egg Salad and Pimento Cheese, BBQ, Ham on Rye, and Masters Club sandwiches have been offered for decades. Sure there’s now a Vegan Wrap, and Grilled Chicken and Classic Chicken sandwiches, but the staples remain. And so you know, the sandwiches are either $1.50 or $2.50 (Chicken is $3.00). You can eat all day for less than $30.00. I prefer to wash it down with the $3.00 domestic beer, with the occasional pink lemonade or the $4.00 import beer.
Wednesday before the tournament begins, the Masters holds a mini-tournament on the 9 hole Par 3 course that is adjacent to the course on the south end. The holes range anywhere from 100-170 yards or so, and all tournament invitees can play. Some choose to, some don’t. Some non-competing folks take their place, and it’s just a fun atmosphere (and a personal favorite of Mr. Sanchez). There are usually 3-5 holes-in-one for the day (every one gets a crystal bowl), and kids caddie for their fathers and sometimes get to putt or hit a shot. Sidenote: no par 3 champion has ever gone on to win the Masters in the same year. This is such a jinx, that par 3 leaders are known to dunk 1 or 2 balls off the 9th tee into the pond to ensure they don’t win the par 3. Very superstitious, writing’s on the wall.
Champions Dinner – Tuesday night before the tournament begins, a dinner is held in the Champions Dining Room and hosted by the defending champion. Tiger famously served cheeseburgers, fries and milkshakes, and others have served fare from their home country (Haggis, Argentina beef, you name it). No press are allowed, and it’s supposedly fun to hear old-timers regale others with tales of yore.
White Caddie Overalls- Until 1983, Masters participants were required to use the services of the Augusta National caddies, even if they employed their own full-time. Now players can bring their own, but some still use a local guy for the local knowledge. No matter who, all caddies must wear the white caddie overalls. This is fine for a day in the 60’s or 70’s, but I’ve seen several sweating through the material on those few high 80’s days.
Honorary Starters. Having a ceremonial first tee shot goes back to the early 60’s, but it wasn’t until the 80’s when Sam Snead joined Gene Sarazen and Byron Nelson that this really took hold. Now it’s a great tradition, and worth it for the early birds (usually around 7:30). Now Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Arnold Palmer have the tee, though Palmer is not expected to hit a ball due to poor health this year.
Pin placements. #16 on the back left, dangerously close to the water. #15, center back, allowing guys to go for eagle. #4 in that tiny tongue of green front left with bunkers on each side and 3 putts looming if you’re too long. Some of the hole locations are more traditional than others, but all have seen glory and disaster.
Amateurs. The co-founder of the tournament retired as an amateur, and since The Masters makes it’s own rules, they choose to highlight the amateurs. Which is why there are 6 in the field of 90 players, and always including the US Amateur champ, the US Mid-Amateur champ, and the British Amateur champ.
Skipping balls across the pond on 16. On practice rounds, players will move to the front of the tee box on the par 3 16th, and purposely hit the ball thin, trying to skip it on top of the water and onto the green. There is debate as to when this first started (some say 70’s and Billy Casper, some say 80’s and Ken Green or Seve Ballesteros). Vijay Singh and Martin Kaymer are the only ones to actually hole the shot. This is not as easy as they make it look.
Crow’s Nest. At the top of the clubhouse lies a small living area with 4 bedrooms and a bath. By no means luxurious, it is traditionally where amateurs stay during their competition rounds. It has a magnificent view of the course, and staying on the grounds can never be a bad thing.
Magnolia Lane. The main entrance to the club from Washington Road, just a mile or so from I-20 (exit 199). The drive is lined on each side by magnolia trees, which are big, and look old. If memory serves, there is a picture of those magnolias planted, and the picture was taken in 1850. So we’re talking over 150 years old. The land was formerly a nursery, so I’m buying it (no research done here).
Butler Cabin. There are 10 total cabins on the ground, and all located to the side of the clubhouse. Butler Cabin is where the TV presentation of the green jacket is held, and where the Augusta National chairman presides while the defending champ puts the jacket on the newly crowned victor. This cabin is to the left of #10, near the putting green, and near the entrance to the Par 3 course.
Rae’s Creek is the water you see in front of the par 3 12th hole, and has been the source of many a crushed dream. It flows behind #11 green, and also in front of #13 tee box (down below). The Hogan and Nelson bridges cross the creek in Amen Corner.
Eisenhower Tree. Since the 40’s, a Loblolly Pine was the bane of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s golf rounds at Augusta. Planted 150-200 yards off the 17th tee on the left side, he demanded that the course remove the tree. That demand was not met, even when Ike was president. The tree continued to be a nuisance when they lengthened #17 around year 2000, but ball and club technology allowed all but the shortest of pro golfers to fly by, or to draw around it. The tree was hit by lightning after the 2014 tournament, and removed. Rumours abound as to Augusta National having a replacement in a secret location, ready to transplant (seriously, they have transplanted full-grown pine trees before. There are seemingly no lengths they won’t go to.).
Green. Every Freakin’ Thing Green. The logo. The Jacket. The grass. A lot of the merchandise. The bags that hold the egg salad sandwiches. The concession tents. The entire Merchandise building. The cups that hold (and distinguish from the domestic) the import beer. Everything is green. And I mean green. The white sand of the bunkers, the yellow flags, the white caddy overalls, the white lining the holes themselves, all these things look much better and pop out when compared to All. The. Green.