The greatest tournament in sports


Every year, during the first full week of April, the greatest tradition in sports takes place. From the alluring Magnolia Lane to the coveted green jacket, Masters week is truly unique. There is nothing like this tournament held in Augusta, Georgia. To truly understand the tournament, you have to know the peculiar rules and traditions at Augusta.

As it is widely regarded as one of the greatest events in the world, it is not easy to get tickets. All members at Augusta National get tickets, but for outsiders, it is much more difficult. Prospective ticket holders have two ways to get tickets, and both are like winning the lottery. Literally, an annual lottery is held to purchase tickets for which you apply. The other way is more like the figurative way of winning the lottery; the Masters has Patron badges. These are week-long tickets to the grounds, and once you get one, you get it for the rest of your life. If a holder dies, it can only be passed to a living spouse. If there is no living spouse, it is entered back into the pool for sale. Now these are only $325 from Augusta, but the waiting list for them has not been opened since 2000.

One of the most interesting rules is how fans/spectators must be referred to as patrons at all times. The use of the word patron dates back to the beginnings of the tournament in the 1930s. Founder, Clifford Roberts, wanted the experience to be more like watching a play. He wanted to constantly remind everyone involved to be constantly reminded the focus was on improving the experience for the people watching.

Multiple other rules that are much different than other events includes no running, no cell phones, and you have to have a Masters certified chair in order to watch. Unlike the Waste Management Phoenix Open where fans are known for running to get to key spots, patrons are not allowed to do such a thing. There are also no phones allowed on the premises all week. However, during the practice rounds, digital cameras are allowed during the practice rounds but not during the real ones. The chair rule is simply to maintain the integrity of the course and greens.

Perhaps the best event of the entire week occurs on Wednesday: the Par Three Contest. One of the most fun events of the week, the contest includes current players and non-competing former champions alike. It is also a wonderful family event. Spouses and children often caddy in this, getting their own bibs and often hitting shots as well, leading to lasting memories for families.

The greatest traditions of all come with winning the tournament. The winner receives one of the most recognizable rewards in sports: the coveted green jacket. After finishing on the 18th hole, dubbed Holly, the winner enters the Butler Cabin. It is here that the winner from the year prior places the jacket on the new winner’s shoulders. Winning also brings the Champions Dinner. One of the coolest aspects of the tournament, a dinner is held each year prior to the beginning of the tournament with the menu selected by the residing champion from the year before choosing what will be served. Every winner of the tournament is invited to the dinner each year, leading to perhaps the most exclusive dinner ever.

The Masters is full of traditions, rules, and glamour. Every single aspect of the tournament adds to the creation of the single best tournament in sports. From its exclusiveness to its special treatment of patrons, it really is a tradition unlike any other.