The Masters Invitational golf tournament is this weekend, as you no doubt know if you’re a golf fan (or live with one). As Jim Nance of CBS is contractually obligated to say, “It’s a tradition unlike any other”, and it really is.
Augusta National Golf Club and The Masters Invitational are truly a world of their own. The so-called “Men of The Masters” (the tournament and club chairs) have rules for absolutely everything so that it remains unique among sporting events, and a special experience for those who attend. Also, so it doesn’t turn into a loogan-fest.
Here are some of those rules…and a few eccentricities:
Food prices are ridiculously low.
Tipping is banned.
Cell phones are prohibited at all times and cameras are not permitted during the tournament.
So…it’s one of the only places in the U.S. where there are long lines for payphones.
There’s a huge fence around the course to keep out animals (and commoners). There has only been one deer sighting in the last 65 years.
TV commentators are not allowed to refer to fans as “fans” or “spectators” They are to be called “patrons,” and the rough is to be referred to as the “second cut.”
Woe be to the announcer who wavers from that protocol. The Masters banned CBS broadcaster Gary McCord in 1995 for saying, “They don’t cut the greens here at Augusta, they use bikini wax.” Too course for that course.
Players had to use local caddies provided by Augusta until 1983.
Players are allowed to use their own caddies now, but they still have to wear the Augusta uniform — green hat, white jumpsuit.
Like many golf courses, there is good fishing at Augusta National, but the players don’t like to talk about it because it is forbidden. In 2011, Monte Burke of Forbes interviewed golfers about the best fishing spots on the PGA Tour. When Augusta was brought up, he described their responses as “squeamish” and they only admitted to hearing there were “some good spots”. However, one former caddie was willing to tell Burke that the best spots are the creek in front of the 12th hole at Amen Corner (“full of bream”; seen below) and the pond at the 16th hole (“brimming with bass”).
Fans….eerrrr…”patrons” … patrons aren’t allowed to wear their hats backwards.
Patrons can bring collapsible chairs to sit on, but those chairs are not allowed to have armrests.
Running is not allowed, unless you are a player. Getting busted could get you escorted off the property.
There is an odd myth that the grounds crew at Augusta packs the azalea plants with ice if spring comes early. The idea is that this will keep the plants from flowering too soon before the tournament.
There is a house located in the middle of the Augusta National parking lot because the owners refuse to sell it. The family has reportedly turned down “millions.”
You can’t apply to become a member at Augusta. It’s nearly impossible to become a member at Augusta. You have to be nominated by a current Augusta member, and new initiations generally aren’t accepted unless someone quits or dies. The total membership hovers around 300 (including former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, below.
Augusta is closed in the summer to keep the course in pristine shape.
You can only ask for autographs in one part of the course. Fans always line the ropes at big tournaments in hopes of getting a signature. But this is tougher to do at Augusta.You can only try and snag an autograph only on the Washington Road side of the clubhouse, near the practice facilities.
The bunkers at Augusta are filled with mining waste. Those pristine white bunkers are actually composed of waste product from the mining of aluminium. There is a company that mines feldspar (rocks) for aluminium, which produces waste in the form of really bright, pure quartz, which is what Augusta uses.
The course used cows as lawnmowers in the 1940s. This is what the fairways look like up close these days.
Also, you’re not….as of this year…allowed to yell, “Dilly Dilly” on the course.