Here's What It's Really Like When You Score a Ticket to the Masters

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

“They just do it right,” my late friend Andy used to say about the Masters. Every year, as the major golf tournament approached, Andy would wax poetic about the pristine condition of the greens, the grandeur of Augusta’s history and traditions, and pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches, perfectly packaged in fairway green wrappers for a cool $1.50 a pop, standing the test of time in both quality and cost over 94 years.

But unless you’re in the club, or know a guy who’s in the club, or know a guy who knows a guy who can get you tickets to get into the club—or in Andy's case, win a raffle—the odds of scoring an invite to the Masters are slim. The odds of winning a single-day pass in the ticket lottery are less than one percent.

Patrons entering The Masters front gate.<p>Michelle Gross</p>
Patrons entering The Masters front gate.

Michelle Gross

I don’t play the lottery, so ostensibly the only way someone like me can finagle their way into the Masters is from a Hail Mary invitation. Just days before the tournament, that invite arrived unexpectedly, courtesy of private aviation company Wheels Up.

There was no question or discussion. My husband and I cleared our schedules, dropped our dogs off at a neighbors' house, and drove to Augusta, GA. Two days later, were close to golf nirvana as we waited for our passes in the Wheels Up Hospitality Suite. Big names filtered in and out of the pop-up party tent, like golf celebs Annika Sörenstam, Kevin Kisner, and Stephen Malbon and quarterbacks Tom Brady and Jared Goff. We spent the evening sipping azalea cocktails, posted up on plush couches angled towards hi-def TVs streaming the tournament.

My husband speaking with Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff in the blue tint of our hospitality tent.<p>Michelle Gross</p>
My husband speaking with Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff in the blue tint of our hospitality tent.

Michelle Gross

The next day, it was game time. Well, almost game time. Heavy winds and a rain delay had pushed the starting time back by a few hours. Weather be damned, we were undeterred and arrived back at the hospitality suite to fuel up on caffeine before reluctantly checking in our cell phones for the day due to Augusta’s strict zero-cell phone policy.

“Do you feel it?” My husband asked as we finally made our way through the front gates of Augusta National and directly into the throes of the merch line. I don't know what I was supposed to feel. So far, it felt like one long azalea-induced haze from the suite into the cool misty Augusta morning where we waited for the better part of an hour for the gates of heaven to open, only to wait in another line to shell out for swag and a $50 garden gnome that my husband was determined to get his hands on. After an hour of fighting for our lives over branded Master’s gear before waiting in another line to check our prized booty in for safekeeping, the only thing I was feeling was hangry.

Related: The Best Golf Trips in Minnesota Are a Lake-Lover's Dream

Turns out the Masters is an ideal place to come hungry. Concessions tents dotted throughout the course offer a variety of famously low-cost, high-quality snacks and sandwiches. Pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches, both as an individual snack and combined, are the perfect antidote, especially with a breakfast beer, in this case, a local brew called Crow’s Nest, in hand. Satisfied, it was finally time to watch some golf.

‘Where do you want to go first? Amen Corner? Wanna walk the back nine or see Rahm tee off on the first hole?” My husband asked me, as if I knew or had any clue or game plan in mind. “You lead the way,” I replied.

We made our way from the Clubhouse and along the rolling green hills and perfectly landscaped course. Just as Andy described, the greens and course are immaculate, not a single blade of grass out of place. Even the bunkers look as if they’ve been hand painted onto the earth.

We assumed position by the eighth hold, just in time for our own ‘Masters Moment.’ Ricky Fowler hit a ball into the pine straw just a few feet away from us. “Hurry!” My husband motioned before we were swiftly instructed not to move or talk. I reached for my phone to document the moment, only to realize I had no phone—this moment would exist only in my mind and memory.

Ricky Fowler looking on from the fourth tee, just a few holes before we saw him.<p>Getty Images / Jamie Squire</p>
Ricky Fowler looking on from the fourth tee, just a few holes before we saw him.

Getty Images / Jamie Squire

Before we knew it, the day slipped into early evening. We sat in the stands overlooking Amen Corner, munching on caramel popcorn and Georgia peach ice cream sandwiches as Jason Day’s baggy Malbon pants billowed in the unrelenting wind. We waited for Tiger Woods to make his way over to this scenic three-hole stretch, the chatter amongst patrons revolved around the red-polo'd legend, whose slight limp had us speculating whether this would be his last Masters.

As the crowd settled to a low murmur, we watched Tiger drive the ball over the pond, into the pine straw just beyond the 11th hole. It wasn’t the perfect drive, but it was remarkable to witness one of the greatest players of all time in this iconic setting. Before we left, we grabbed our gnome and bag of Master’s swag and headed back to the party tent to collect our phones.

Tiger Woods walks across the green on the 11th hole, where we watched him drive.<p>Getty Images / Maddie Meyer</p>
Tiger Woods walks across the green on the 11th hole, where we watched him drive.

Getty Images / Maddie Meyer

Was it perfect? No. But as I sit here writing this story in my new favorite Master’s crewneck, reminiscing about the day and my old friend Andy. His words echo in my head: “They just do it right.”

Related: 35 Best Golf Gifts for Men and Women