5 Things I Learned About The Masters That You Can't Learn From TV

From the hills, to queues, to the smell, here are the five things I've learned about the Masters on my first visit

Masters learnings
(Image credit: Future)

There's been a lot written about how the experience on site at Augusta National is significantly different to that when watching on TV. What for the somewhat limited TV coverage and the handful of camera angles, those watching at home get the exact  glimpse into the tournament and the golf course that the golf club wants you to see. 

I've been on site at my first ever Masters all week, so here's five things I've learned about the tournament and the golf course that you can't learn on TV. 

The undulation

Hannah Darling tees off the 12th at the 2024 Augusta National Women's Amateur

(Image credit: Getty Images)

I know this point has been flogged to death, but I truly was not ready for how undulating and hilly Augusta National is. I came to the event expecting to be amazed at how undulating this course is after reading countless accounts of just how many slopes there are, but you have to see it to believe it. 

The 10th hole for example, which has a near 100ft drop to the lowest part of the fairway, is even more dramatic than it seems on camera. I just stared blankly down the fairway for a few minutes when I first saw it, desperately trying to collate the image I had in my brain of this hole a next to what I was witnessing with my own eyes. 

Also worth mentioning are the hanging lies on the 13th fairway, the drop down to the par-3 6th green, the steep rise of the 8th fairway, the approach up to the 9th and the drop down 11 simply don't correlate to the image you'll have created in your mind watching it year after year on TV. 

Feel free to add this to the umpteenth piece of literature you've read telling you 'it really is that hilly at Augusta National', but it's truly breathtaking. 

The wind

Patrick Reed battling wind at Augusta National golf club

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The wind at Augusta National can be a real beast - and it's proving to be this week. We've seen gusts of up to 40mph already and its been causing havoc for players. The best players in the world can deal quite competently with winds of any speed when its heading in one direction, but the gusting winds around the tall pines of Augusta National are hard to appreciate just watching on TV. This week, where we've seen sand flying out of bunkers, the audience at home been given a true appreciation of some of the winds that can fly through the property. 

On a day as cloudless as this Masters Friday, players can't even rely on moving clouds to give them an idea of the prevailing wind direction and you've got to really appreciate the skill and talent of the whole field to deal with golf shots in the Augusta gusts. I stood at the back of the 4th tee for an hour or so today, watching some of the biggest hitters in world golf hit 5-woods and hybrids into a gusting gale. They were pretty much second guessing where the wind would push the ball when it came to them hitting the shot, and led to a real mixed bag of results. 

The lines

A line outside the gift shop at the 2024 masters

The queue outside the golf shop moves at a rapid rate. 

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The concessions stands at Augusta National are hidden away amongst the trees, and you'll never get a full view of them on the TV coverage. With the prices so reasonable, and Patrons seemingly in a perpetual state of hunger and thirst, the lines are often long and snaking. Such is the military precision that Augusta National works under, these lines dissipate incredibly quickly. Drinks have been pre-poured, sandwiches are ready bagged to be picked up and the friendly staff and the checkout work rapidly. 

The same goes for the gift shop, which is believed to turn over more than $1 million per hour, and the lines here disappears through its many twists and turns remarkably quickly for the amount of people going through it. Even the lines for the bathrooms are smooth and those desperate to use the facilities need not wince at the site of a long queue. 

The smell

Didn't think I'd be writing about this after my first trip to Augusta. Unless scratch and sniff TV makes an incredible comeback in the near future, you're never going to be able to properly smell the Augusta National property. The prevailing scent is that of pines, as you might imagine considering the quantity of them on site. As a slight hay fever sufferer, it's been playing havoc with my nose. 

I don't know if they pipe is some kind of nice smell to certain areas, or that the patrons are so decked out in cologne its that I keep smelling other people, but all the areas around Augusta National smell as good as they look. Even the toilets smell nice! 

The lack of birds

The audio might tell you that there are flocks of birds hanging out in the trees around the property. In fact, there are remarkably few birds on the golf course at all. 

Probably due to the fact the course is so busy, I've only seen a couple anywhere near the course and I've likely seen more private jets flying into the nearby airport than I have any wildlife. 

Dan Parker
Staff Writer

Dan has been with Golf Monthly team since 2021. He graduated with a Masters degree in International Journalism from the University of Sussex and looks after equipment reviews and buying guides, specializing in golf shoe, golf bag, golf cart and apparel reviews. Dan has now tested and reviewed over 30 pairs of golf shoes and is an expert in the field. A left-handed golfer, his handicap index is currently 6.5 and he plays at Fulford Heath Golf Club in the West Midlands. 

Dan's current clubs: 

Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2 

Fairway: TaylorMade Stealth 2 15°

Hybrid: Ping G425 

Irons: Cobra King Tec Utility, Ping i230 (5-PW) 

Wedges: Ping Glide Forged Pro

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour X

Ball: Titleist AVX