We take a lighthearted look at some of the people who cruise into town each year for the U.S. Masters at Augusta.
Each April, the golfing world descends on Augusta, Georgia for the iconic U.S. Masters. Thousands upon thousands of people arrive in the city to watch the golf, to work or just to play. Here we take a lighthearted look at 7 slightly stereotyped groups of people you might be likely to see cruising around town during tournament week.
The die-hard golf fans
These obsessives eat, sleep and breathe the game. They come from all over the world on a pilgrimage to see an event that’s been elevated to semi-mystical status in their imaginations. They’ve jumped through hoops and shelled out inordinate sums of money to get a glimpse of the sacred Augusta turf. Some have paid half a year’s salary for an 11-day package tour of the Southern States visiting various second-rate courses, just because it also includes tickets to one practice day at The Masters. Let’s hope it’s worth it.
They’ll be waiting at the entry gates two hours before they open. When they do, they’ll walk swiftly (they’ll have done their research and be aware they’re not allowed to run) straight for the merchandising centre where they’ll fight each other tooth and nail for Masters logo’d doormats and tent-like, shiny polo shirts.
Next, they’ll head out to “Amen Corner” where they’ll have to wait four and a half hours for the first group to come through. But it will be worth it when they finally see Robert Streb fat one into Rae’s Creek off the 12th tee. It will all be worth it, won’t it?
The old school patrons Only a small number of tickets to The Masters are released to the public. The others have been handed out to the same families since the beginning of time.
Some of those families who are less interested in golf (somehow) find a way to dispose of their tickets in a way that’s mutually agreeable to them and another party. Others keep them and attend the event annually in a semi-ritualistic way.
You’ll recognise an old school patron. They’ll generally be sporting a pair of pleated khaki shorts, a tent-like, shiny polo shirt with a voluminous sweater wrapped around their shoulders, a faded sun hat perched on their head, with their coveted Masters badge on the side. Look for them to have positioned their fold-up chair in an unlikely location: somewhere along the 3rd fairway for example, in a nice shaded spot. They’ll barely be watching the golf, just using the opportunity to catch up with some fellow patrons, smoke a few cigars and sink a Bloody Mary or two. “Who won this thing last year Bill?” “Wasn’t it that Brazilian guy? Caballero, or something like that?”
This motley crew is most easily spotted at night in one of the many interesting hangouts around Augusta, some of which are more savoury than others. They’ll be propping up a bar somewhere, generally just talking to each other about something highly cynical, but also with one ear open in the vague hope they’ll hear something juicy from one of the other bar-flies with a connection to the action.
On tournament days, you’re highly unlikely to see a press representative at all. They’ll crawl in, ghost-like, through the side (press) entrance to the course and head straight to the awesome Press Centre, complete with its free food, huge TV screens and scoreboards. The veterans are unlikely to leave the air-conditioned comfort of the Press Centre until darkness begins to fall once more. They might get as far as the interview room in case Tiger Woods says something controversial, they may even nip into the clubhouse for a prawn sandwich, but any further than that might be pushing it. The last time a member of the written press was seen as far out as the 12th was when Herbert Warren Wind christened “Amen Corner” back in 1958.
These guys have generally obtained tickets to the tournament thanks to corporate connections. They may, or may not be interested in golf, but The Masters is, like the Kentucky Derby or Indy 500, just: “one of those events to tick off the list.” Look for them to be smoking enormous cigars on the course and trying to avoid being ejected from the premises because of over-vociferous shouting of, “get in the hole.”
At night, these chaps are likely to gravitate to one of Augusta’s classy nightspots… Hooters will be a favourite.
Like any well-attended sports event, The Masters provides a chance for people to make some money. As you get anywhere within six miles of the course, you’ll find people selling parking spots on their front lawn for $20 a day or bottles of water at $5 a pop.
Move a little closer and you’ll see people with a vague connection to golf pedaling their wares from any available spot. In recent years, spectators have been amazed to find John Daly selling Loudmouth clothing out of the back of his motorhome on the edge of Washington Road, close to the entrance of Magnolia Lane.
Pilots The Masters brings a number of celebrities (both golfing and non-golfing) into town, and many of them arrive by private jet. That means there are a number of pilots strutting their stuff around Augusta during the week, waiting for the call-up to fly their bosses to the next hot-spot.
Look out for them to be acting suave and winning in some of the more reputable joints in town, living vicariously through their famous passengers. Dressed in sleek chinos and cashmere sweater, slicked back hair with Aviators perched on top, they’ll be telling any woman who’ll listen about the time they had Brangelina in their cabin.
The roadies Another group who have no interest in golf whatsoever. They’re in town to set up the infrastructure for TV companies and whoever else needs a bit of muscle to organise their equipment for the week.
They may not like golf, but they’re not averse to a little sport. It’s generally of the bare-knuckle variety though and it often occurs at around midnight when the “City boys” are being thrown out of Hooters.
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Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly.
Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?
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