My favorite golf tournament is the Masters in Augusta, Ga. Living in Georgia for 40 years, it was my privilege to go to the tournament more than 20 times. I always felt that it was like a religious experience being on the Hallowed grounds of Augusta National.
What I like most are all the traditions that are associated with the tournament. These traditions allow you to remember the past, including players such as Sam, Seve, Arnie, Jack, Gary, Phil, Tiger, and Jordan, and the following:
• Ceremonial first tee shot. On Thursday morning, the tournament opens with three of the greats of the game teeing off on No. 1. This year it will be Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and the first Black player to play in the Masters, Lee Elder.
• Fans are called “patrons.” These patrons must adhere to specific etiquette on the course. It is a privilege to be a patron. Weekly passes are called “patron badges” and have been sold out since 2000.
• Past champions. Winners get a lifetime invitation to play. Since there is not a set field size, the past champions are not taking spots from deserving younger players.
• Caddies in uniform. Players’ caddies must all wear the Augusta uniform – green Masters Cap and white jumpsuit.
• Par three tournament. On Wednesday afternoon, the players go to the par three course and play a crowd favorite. Players only need a few clubs, so their spouse or children are their caddies, wearing the white jumpsuit. The players socialize with the crowd. The winner of the par three tournament has never won the Masters Tournament.
• Skipping balls on No. 16 during practice rounds. A crowd favorite, this is when the players go to the edge of the water on this famous par 3 hole and attempt to “skip shots” across the water on the green.
• Food on the course. Pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches are only $1.50. Beer is only $4. These prices are the least expensive of any golf tournament.
• Champions Dinner. At this dinner, held on Tuesday night, the defending champion chooses the menu for the past champions dinner. Only past champions can attend this event.
• Green jacket. The champion gets fitted with the green jacket from the defending champion. This ceremony is done in the historic Butler’s Cabin. Only three times has a player put the jacket on himself as defending champion: Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods.
• Newest traditions include the Drive, Chip and Putt challenge for juniors held on Sunday prior to Masters week (2014); and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur (2019), in which the top female amateurs play the course on Saturday and Sunday prior to Masters week. This was the first time females have played a competitive event at Augusta National.
I can’t wait for the Masters to begin and see these traditions, as well as new players become champions.
Dr. Jean Harris is an LPGA Master Professional and teaches at local courses. email@example.com; golfdoctorjean.com