- The Masters is one of the best sports events in the world.
- Some of what makes the Masters so great is the quirky traditions found only at Augusta National.
- From cheap food to strict rules and a bizarre lack of animals, it is a tradition unlike any other.
- See more stories on Insider.
Tipping is banned.
Cell phones are prohibited at all times and cameras are not permitted during the tournament.
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. There has been one deer sighting in the last 65 years and visitors often talk of never seeing a single squirrel.
Birds are also mysteriously rarely seen at Augusta National. Bird sounds are heard during the television broadcasts, but there is a rumor that those sounds are artificial.
“Also, there are no birds, squirrels, insects or any other living creature indigenous to planet earth at the Masters. Nowhere on the property. Well, okay, there must be some somewhere. But the Post’s Dave Sheinin and I made a multi-day quest for a single bird sighting. So far, none. Those bird calls that you sometimes hear on the Masters broadcast? The source remains undiscovered.” — Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post.
The lakes are also reportedly artificially enhanced to look immaculate on TV. Golf Digest tested the water on one hole in 1996 and found food dye.
Source: Golf Digest
But like many golf courses, there is good fishing at Augusta National. The players, though, 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.
A former caddie was willing to tell Burke that the best spots are the creek in front of the 12th hole (“full of bream”; seen above) and the pond at the 16th hole (“brimming with bass”).
Only 4 minutes of commercials per hour are allowed during the broadcast.
TV commentators are not allowed to refer to fans as “fans” or “spectators.” They are to be called “patrons.” In fact, weekly passes to the Masters are called “patron badges.”
The rough is also to be referred to as the “second cut.”
Source: The Age
The Masters banned CBS broadcaster Gary McCord in 1995 for saying, “They don’t cut the greens here at Augusta, they use bikini wax.”
Players had to use local caddies provided by Augusta until 1983. Players still must use local caddies if they play at Augusta outside of Masters week.
Players are allowed to use their own caddies now, but they have to wear the Augusta uniform – green hat, white jumpsuit.
Fans … oops, we mean 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.
Grounds crew members used to wear hard hats.
The course used cows as lawnmowers in the 1940s.
Augusta is its own universe with a tenuous connection to the outside world (see: all the ridiculous anecdotes in this slideshow).
But WWII affected Augusta just like it did the rest of the country. During the war, Augusta didn’t have the manpower to maintain the course, so they set 200 cattle loose on the grounds in hopes that they would “trim” the grass by eating it.
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 and nobody outside of Augusta knows how many members there are.
It’s nearly impossible to become a member at Augusta.
You have to be 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.
Augusta is closed in the summer to keep the course in pristine shape.
Even the press conference podium is immaculate.
Golfers must return their green jacket to Augusta National one year after winning the Masters. After that, their jacket can only be worn when they are at Augusta National.
Also, if a player wins more than one Masters, he does not receive a second green jacket unless his size changes considerably.
There is no set field size for the Masters. Therefore, past winners who get a lifetime invitation to competing in the Masters are not taking spots from younger, more deserving players.
Players are given brand new Mercedes for use during the week.
Golf cart drivers who are hired to drive the players around Augusta National also pick up the golfers at the airport in the Mercedes they will be using. The cars also have a number in the back window so that employees can always identify the players by which car they are in.
Tickets are dirt cheap; only $375 for a patron badge that grants you access to the entire week. But getting one is a lot like Green Bay Packers season tickets. There is a waiting list and it has been closed since 2000. A limited number of single-day tickets are sold via lottery each year. Those are $115 for the tournament rounds and $75 for practice rounds.
You can go to jail for selling tickets.
Twenty-four people were arrested outside Augusta in 2012 for trying to scalp tickets.
The course is insane about who it lets into the tournament and it’s illegal to sell tickets within 2,700 feet of the gates.
You can also go to jail for trying to take sand home as a souvenir.
In 2012, Clayton Baker made headlines when he made a quick run to a bunker to get some sand to take home. He was quickly arrested and thrown in jail. The charges were ultimately dropped, but he says the incident cost him $20,000 and led to depression because of how he was treated.
Meanwhile, those bunkers at Augusta are filled with mining waste.
You know those pristine white bunkers?
They’re actually composed of waste product from the mining of aluminum, according to Golf.com
Basically, a company that mines feldspar (rocks) for aluminum has a process that produces waste in the form of really bright, pure quartz — that’s what Augusta uses.
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 solicit an autograph on the Washington Road side of the clubhouse, near the practice facilities.
The old media center was enormous.
Augusta opened a new media center in 2017 and it is gorgeous.
The new pro shop is unlike any other in sports. It is the only place to buy Masters gear, and they offer 125 different styles of caps.
Now check out what the biggest stars at the Masters used to look like.