Praise to the golf gods, it happened. It finally happened. After years of filling out lottery forms, calling in favors and praying to a picture of Byron Nelson, you have your hands on a Masters badge. Good things do happen to good people.
But the day has now come, and you're overwhelmed. You don't know how you're going to be able to see everything you want to see, buy everything you want to buy, or if the human body can take that much pimento cheese in one day. Fear not; below is an itinerary to make sure you make the most of your Augusta National pilgrimage. Here's how to spend your one day at the Masters.
Night before: Hydrate. The day ahead will be long, you're going to (hopefully) be in the sun and Augusta National's topography has never been confused with Kansas. So you need water, and lots of it. Not to be a killjoy, that means limiting your alcohol intake as well. If you really need a buzz, go to YouTube and fire up highlights from 1986.
While we're here, keep eating to a minimum. You’re going to need space in your stomach for approximately 14 sandwiches tomorrow. Also, you’re likely aware of the club’s no cell-phone policy, but let this serve as a reminder to get a camera so you can capture your adventures.
6:00 AM: Didn't get any shuteye? It's okay; who needs sleep when you're running off Augusta-fueled adrenaline and egg salad.
The parking lots—which are the nicest parking lots in sports, as Augusta National Golf Club purchased an ENTIRE NEIGHBORHOOD and transformed it into a forest—open at 6:00, but the course is not accessible until 8:00. No matter; the parking lots are filled with diehards just like you, giving you company and conversation.
8:00 AM: The pearly gates have opened. Please don’t run; your badge will be seized, along with your will to live. But brisk, brisk walking is allowed, and encouraged.
8:02 AM: Merchandise center. You’ve been thinking how many shirts, hats, mugs and other items adorned with the famous yellow-America crest you're going to purchase, and the answer is “all of them.” Luckily for you, ANGC have both storage and shipping stations so you don’t have to lug your cargo around for the entire day.
8:25 AM: Walk up toward the Big Oak by the clubhouse, the de facto lighthouse of Augusta National, as the property sprawls from its roots. You are literally and figuratively at the top of the mountain, my friend. Bask it in.
8:50 AM: Head down 10. Once you reach the green, make an immediate right, which at the moment means skipping 11. Keeping walking through the pines down the hill until you can walk no further. Trust us on this.
9:05 AM: That diamond of green and fluorescents exploding in front of you? That is Amen Corner, in all her glory. No, that watery substance in your eyes is not from the pollen.
However, don't linger too long, for a common rookie mistake is to spend the entire morning in this area. Granted, it's a pretty damn good way to spend a morning, but you'll have multiple chances of coming back, and there's still so much to see and do. Give yourself 30 minutes, max.
9:35 AM: Your first concessions visit, right behind the 12th tee. It's morning, so a chicken or sausage biscuit may seem fitting, but as delicious as those bad boys are, they will weigh you down something fierce. Our recommendation for Meal No. 1: Two egg salad sandwiches, or one egg/one pimento. (For the record, we are pro-pimento, but also want to acknowledge there are those that oppose this Augusta delicacy. These people are known as morons.)
9:50 AM: Stroll down the 13th hole at a leisurely pace; after all, it's only (arguably) the most famous hole in the world. A good congregation spot is to the right of the bail-out/lay-up area, providing a vantage point of the hole in its entirety.
From there, use the patron crosswalk in front of the 14th tee, walking up the left side of the hole. This will allow the best views of the 14th, a sentiment that also applies for the 15th. Use the crosswalk in front of the 15th green, taking you to the right side of No. 16 and 17, and will guide you up the 18th hill.
10:50 AM: Go to the practice facility, which is on the short list of best driving ranges in the world. There aren't many built-in bleachers, so be prepared to stand if a megastar is warming up. For those looking for a close interaction, we suggest loitering by the short-game area.
11:20 AM: You've been second-guessing not purchasing that fourth Masters shirt, haven't you? No worries: in the same vein that it's impossible to eat just one Girl Scout Thin Mint, you're not not making another tour of the merchandise center. Plus, you forgot to get anything for your cubicle buddy Bob, who loves the Masters just as much as you. How could you?
11:40 AM: Here is where your day may diverge from our itinerary. We'd advocate for a tour of the front nine, especially if it's a practice day. However, perhaps there's a player you want to follow, and you see he's almost done with the front or about to head to the back. If that's your prerogative, Godspeed.
Two pieces of advice: 1) If it's a practice day, the pace can be brutal, as players are hitting multiple shots and camping out around the green. If you're set on following one player and/or group, bake in three hours to the schedule 2) If it's a marquee name like Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy or Jordan Spieth, you're going to be fighting for a good view (practice or tournament day), so be prepared to walk a hole or two ahead for optimal visibility.
But whatever route you choose...
11:45 AM: It's time to carb up with a second concession visit. Sure, you just ate two sandwiches less than two hours ago...but when you're in El Dorado, you take a handful of gold even if the other hand is already full. Pull the trigger on a Masters Club and another pimento.
12:00 PM: Tour the front. For the sake of brevity, here are a handful of spots to check on the first nine sojourn:
Halfway down on the rightside of No. 2. Great vista of the green and the second shot it commands.
Behind the green at No. 3. A hole that looks relatively easy on television, you'll leave thinking otherwise after studying the severity of undulations.
The bleachers at No. 5. One of the holes that gets the least amount of pub, this is one of the more remote spots on the property, and a chance to rest your dogs in peace.
Behind No. 7 tee. Another hole that doesn't get much recognition, the view—the hole is perfectly framed by pines—will often catch you by surprise.
The walk up No. 9. Words don't do it justice.
2:00 PM: You're going to say it. Going to try your best not to, but it's futile. "Man, I didn't know Augusta was this hilly!" It's okay; we know you knew; everyone does. But you don't really know until you've experienced it.
Speaking of which, sounds like your sugar levels are running low. You need your energy for the rest of the day. Meaning...
2:15 PM: Concessions visit No. 3. Have you had any of the cookies yet? They put Mrs. Fields to shame. Stock a couple of those delights in your pocket, as well as a chicken sandwich. Come to think of it, having another pimento or egg salad handy isn't the worst idea either.
2:25 PM: Time to get your photo taken in front of the Augusta National clubhouse. The club has streamlined the process in the past decade, with a staffed volunteer helping patrons get their pics next to the famous flagpole and flower bed. And if you forgot a camera, they have one available to use.
2:40 PM: Here's a toss-up. If it's a practice day, head for a quick go-around of the Par 3 Course, which is only the best par 3 course in the world. It doesn't take up much land; a lap will take you less then 30-40 minutes. Unfortunately, the area has been closed in recent years during tournament rounds, so our apologies if you're out of luck.
3:10 PM: Back down No. 10, this time taking the left side of the hole. This is the path so you're able to go all the way back to No. 11 tee and marvel and/or shriek in horror at the tight corridor. How anyone is able to keep a ball in the fairway off that tee shot proves these players are some type of sorcerers.
3:30 PM: Another stroll to Amen Corner. This time, we recommend setting up shop in the stands for a bit, soaking up the sun, the approaches and short game work at the 11th, the tee shots into the 12th, against the most beautiful piece of golf landscape, or landscape in general, man knows. Hey, there's a reason so many patrons get engaged here.
4:10 PM: Time to depart the 12th grandstands. Our destination? The 15th and 16th, which is a tad of a party scene. People aren't necessarily here for the Masters but to be seen, or to watch the players skip rocks across the 16th pond. That may not sound like your cup of tee, yet it's a lively atmosphere worth your time. For an efficient route, walk alongside the 13th, cut in front of the 14th tee and boom, you're by the 16th tee.
4:40 PM: I should probably get a third flag, you think. Listen, the club doesn't sell its merchandise online, and you're going to beat yourself up if you don't get it, so, yes, one more visit to the merchandise center. Don't worry, just pay with credit card. That's all imaginary money anyway, right?
5:00 PM: The club will allow you to stay until 8:00 PM or so before shooing you, politely, off the property. What you do with these three hours is up to you. Hang by the range, follow a group or player around for a bit, take another walk on the front or back, camp out on a certain hole. Go nuts, buddy, and have the conviction that, no matter your choice, there's no wrong answer.
Our last piece of advice: One more concession stand visit. The Bar-B-Que is a winner at this time of the day out of the heat. And we're told is goes quite well with pimento.
8:00 PM: Time to go. Warning: You will be filled with melancholy, and the idea that you may not be back won't alleviate that feeling. While we wish we were there for you in this time of despair, know that, while the day has past, its memories never will.