As perhaps you’ve heard by now, to key to success at the Masters is avoiding the bad places. The water on 12? That’s a no-go. The left side of the 2nd fairway? Nope! The digital camera aisle at any store within 20 miles of Augusta on tournament week? Don’t even think about it!
On the Sunday before Masters Sunday, I found myself experiencing an all-time Masters failure. The following day, Monday, my parents and I were scheduled to walk Augusta National for the first time — the culmination of a handful of life dreams. But there was just one problem: we didn’t have any way to document it.
After days on my to-do list, I’d forgotten to remind my parents they could bring their digital camera to Augusta and onto the course during Masters practice rounds. I myself had forgotten a camera at home. The cherry on top? GOLF’s photographer had broken his computer screen the previous day. He was out of commission until at least the early afternoon.
Making matters worse, I’d planned to write about the endeavor for work. Nothing says “priceless family memories” quite like a story with no visual proof of actually happening, amiright? Quickly, I left our hotel and darted over to the nearest Best Buy, where I met a friendly worker in the camera aisle.
“You looking for a digital camera?” He asked.
“Yes! Preferably something cheap,” I replied.
“Sorry man, we’re all sold out.”
No worries, Mr. Best Buy attendant. There’s a Walmart down the road, a Staples next to it, and, if both those fail, a Target across the street.
Forty-five minutes and three more ill-fated pit stops later, I was, to put it lightly, royally screwed. There was only a single digital camera for sale (as in, one unit of one camera), and it cost $650 … way more than I hoped to spend. I returned to Best Buy, where I found the friendly Camera-center attendant again.
“Is there anything I can use to take a photo?” I pleaded.
“Uhh, maybe check over there,” he replied. “It probably won’t get the photos you want, but it’s better than nothing.”
Five minutes and $200 later, I walked back to the car with a relic of the past: a Polaroid camera, and enough film for 16 photos. It was hardly an ideal solution, but it was a camera, and one I was allowed to bring through the gates at Augusta National. My Masters nightmare had been averted, but it was an expensive mistake.
As you look ahead to 2023, don’t be like me. Below, find 10 things you can’t forget when headed to the Masters:
1. A camera
The Polaroid worked. It worked really well, actually. But it only worked as well because GOLF’s photographer, Stephen Denton, turned water into wine with the photos I took. You likely won’t have the expertise of a professional photographer when you wind up at Augusta National on a practice round day, so do yourself a favor and pack a camera with you in your duffel bag. (Of course, if you’re headed to Augusta National for a tournament round, know that cameras are strictly forbidden.)
Any sort of digital camera will work. If you’re looking for something to add a retro feel to your photos, check out the Polaroid Now+ camera below, which helped me out of a *serious* jam and snapped some lifelong memories in the process.
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Polaroid Now+ Camera
2. A watch
It’s easy to understand the communicative issues related to the Masters’ zero-tolerance cell phone policy. Once your friends are lost … they’re lost, and they’re going to stay lost until you either a) find them again or b) meet back at the car. But one of the most understated roles our phones play in our everyday life is keeping track of time.
Now, you could just travel with somebody who knows how to tell time by the sun — but Masters badges are EXPENSIVE. Perhaps you’re better served investing in a wrist watch.
As someone who forgot his watch in the friendly confines of New York City, I spent the remainder of the week asking strangers for the time. Don’t be like me. Help me help you. Bring a watch.
3. A WHOOP
It’s true! Augusta National is hillier than it looks. But how hilly is it? And how many pimento cheese sandwiches do you have the runway to consume in the meantime? For that information, and loads of other relevant health data, you need the help of a WHOOP.
WHOOP is a wearable device that tracks an avalanche of different metrics. In the day-to-day, these metrics are extremely helpful in understanding your strain, recovery and sleep. But in the scheme of a few days or a week at a tournament, they’re extremely valuable in helping you understand how much you’re exerting yourself, and how much sleep you need to be performing at a high level the following day.
That might not seem relevant for those watching the golf tournament, but make no mistake, Augusta National will kick you in your rear end if you’re not careful. So be careful, and wear WHOOP.
4. A jacket
As you might have seen on television, it was cold at Augusta National on Saturday. Really freaking cold. And colder still if, like me, you forgot to bring a jacket with you to Augusta, Ga.
If you’re a northerner, don’t let the promise of the Mason-Dixon line overwhelm you, weather can be unpredictable in April. Pack for the possibilities, and not only for 80 and sunny.
5. More pants
Morning in Augusta can be cold even when the weather’s good, and when will you be spending roughly half of your time on the golf course? In the morning!
If you’re going for the full week, there’s no need to pack more than two pairs of shorts, max. You might even be able to get away with one pair. If you’re going just for a day, pack a pair of pants.
These, from Lululemon’s new golf collection, are a personal favorite. They are not hyperbolically the best pants I’ve ever owned — the perfect marriage of sweatpant level comfort and dress pant level style. If I could wear one pair of pants for all the rest of the days of my life, it would be these. Purchase now, and wear for all your tournament rounds — Masters and otherwise — through the end of time.
6. Better shirts
Among patrons, the Masters can be something of a logo-off. The well-connected and highfalutin all wear their status symbols for the world to see.
Reader, I am not well-connected or highfalutin. I enjoy my gear with with as few logos and as little lettering as possible. You should do the same. Both Lululemon and Chervo have terrific, stylish and minimally invasive options.
7. A pen
Great for exchanging information with newfound friends or snagging autographs (if that’s your kinda thing).
8. A notebook
You’ll have observations. You’ll tell yourself you’ll remember those observations. You won’t. Bring a notebook and use it to jot down your thoughts throughout tournament week. Or, if you’re in a pinch, use the Masters’ brilliantly designed spectator guide as your canvas.
9. An additional duffel bag
Somewhere along the line, purchasing Masters gear became a rite of passage for sports fans worldwide. This year, my shopping list included seven people … and it was a third the size of last year’s.
Long story short: you will be purchasing a lot of gear, be it for yourself, your loved ones, or your weird coworker who really loves garden gnomes. That’s okay. What’s not okay is holding up the baggage line at the Augusta airport because your bag weighs 17 pounds over the legal limit.
Pack another duffel bag into your duffel bag. Use the second for all your goodies, and eat the cost of the checked bag. You (and every single one of the people on your flight home) will be glad you did.
10. Golf clubs
Obviously, you’re in Augusta to see the Masters. Obviously, you won’t have a tee time at Augusta National while you’re there. But it’s worth bringing the sticks and sticking around for another day to check out any of the area’s other historic golf offerings. Snag a tee time at Forest Hills, the Patch, or even Champion’s Retreat. They’re no Augusta National, but you’ll be dying to swing so badly after seeing Amen Corner for the first time, they might not have to be.