A Week In Links: April 14 – Augusta National Is The Best

Augusta National – the hosting club of the Masters – is the best golf course in America. Ok, it’s probably not the longest or the most challenging, but it’s the best. The week in April for Masters Week is one of the best sports TV weekends all year, but going to Masters week in person has to be a pilgrimage of every self-respecting golf fan. It is the golfing promised land and must be visited. I want to go to there.

The Masters tournament has the highest average ticket price of any sporting event in America. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the resurgence of Tiger Woods has spiked ticket prices to an even higher amount.

“The overall average for a round pass this year currently sits at a ridiculous $3,045 dollars, 143% above the 2012 figure of $1,254, and 164% above the 2011 average of $1,154.

The best way to catch some play at Augusta this year still remains the four day badge. Checking in at an average price this year of $9,085 dollars, the four day badge shows an increase of demand in line with that of the average individual round, both resulting in an average price increase of exactly 143% over last year. However, this also means that the four day badge also represents a significant 25% discount from purchasing passes to each day at average cost, essentially rendering it a purchase of four rounds for the price of three.”

But once a patron get in the door, Augusta National treats it’s them like they’re important. In fact, CBS and ESPN broadcasters can’t even call the fans, fans. The announcers calling the Masters must stick to a strict dictionary of “Masters terms,” or else face the wrath of Augusta that befell Gary McCord.

If a budding announcer want to call the Masters you have to learn these terms: it’s “flagstick,” not pin, “bunker,” not sand trap, and “teeing ground,” not “tee box.” Any pairings – twosomes, threesomes, foursomes – are called “groupings” A ball hit through the green was actually hit “over” the green. The normally-titled back nine is the “second nine” and the “patrons” sit in “observation stands” rather than bleachers.

In another area of decorum, Augusta National does not take too kindly to those “patrons” who yell “GET IN THE HOLE” after every shot. In fact, if you yell something, anything at the Masters, the security team will find you. And they will kill you. Ok, they won’t kill you, but you’ll be escorted off the premises and banned FOR LIFE. Yahoo! Sports’ writer Jay Busbee tells the story of a patron who yelled at Augusta and lived to yell another day. Not because he was wily and bribed the security guards, but because they couldn’t find him. No pictures either, they’ll take a patrons’ phone in a second.

“So,” I asked the security guard, “would there be any warning for the get-in-the-hole guy?”

The answer was no.

“But you’ll take his badge, right?”

“Oh, yeah,” the guard said, with more than a hint of anticipation, and resumed scanning the crowd. This time, alas, the screamer escaped to yell again. But if he did lose his badge, he wouldn’t just lose it for this afternoon. He’d lose it for this year, and every year afterward, forever and ever, amen.”

Finally, after paying a monumental fee to enter the hallowed grounds of the Masters, after paying $60 for a caddie’s hat or $200 for a Peter Millar Masters sweater at the gift shop, the concession stands are probably the cheapest in American sports.

It’s $1.50 for a pimento cheese (the best) sandwich, or an egg salad sandwhich. It costs $1.50 just to use the bathroom at Yankee stadium. It’s $2.50 for a BBQ sandwich and beer is $3. Beer at a major American sporting event can run anywhere from $8-$12. So, the patrons are using up their life-savings to get there, but can eat and drink cheaply once they make it.

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