‘The most memorable blur of your life’: What it’s like to win the Masters media lottery

The 10th hole at the Masters.

The 10th hole at Augusta National.

Stephen Denton

Ed. note: Just as Augusta National is the ultimate insiders’ club, the Masters is the ultimate insiders’ tournament. Nearly nine decades after the storied venue was founded, the Augusta Experience has remained shrouded in mystery. To unlock some of its secrets, we asked those who have been part of the experience to describe one element of what makes Augusta Augusta and the Masters the Masters. The seventh installment of our “What It’s Like…” series (below) was contributed by GOLF‘s Josh Berhow.

Previous installments: Hosting the Champions Dinner | Being a Masters rookie | Sinking green-jacket dreams at 12 | Working on the Masters grounds crew | Staying in the Crow’s Nest | Hitting a ceremonial opening tee shot


The Masters does a lot right. Cheap concessions, perfectly manicured fairways, a very good golf tournament. But did you know Augusta National lets 28 randomly selected media members play the course every year? It’s one of the coolest perks in the business. That is, if you win the lottery, like I did in 2016.

The lucky souls go off in seven foursomes the Monday after every Masters, firing at the same pins that were in play a day earlier. As a participant, it’s less the most memorable round of your life than it is the most memorable blur of your life.

You’re told to show up an hour before your tee time but not a minute earlier, and the complete Augusta National experience is offered. You drive down Magnolia Lane. You eat breakfast on property. You’re assigned a spot in the Champions Locker Room (I shared a locker with my good pals Zach Johnson and Billy Casper). Eventually, amid the fastest hour imaginable — your only time to explore a nearly deserted Disney World for golfers — you meet your club caddie at the range, take a couple of swings and hustle to the 1st tee.

What it’s like working on the Masters grounds crew, according to a superintendent who has done it
By: Anonymous Masters grounds crew worker

Without patrons, the course seems almost normal, a sleepy private club on a vast green expanse. The looming round presents a fascinating dilemma: Do you smile and smell the azaleas for the next five hours? Or do you grind and sweat and bear down like never before?

The answer is probably somewhere in between, although I learned toward the latter; this was my Super Bowl, World Cup and Olympics rolled into one. I started par-bogey-par-bogey before things went sideways. Nerves rarely lose.

The entire day is magical, which is a word one shouldn’t utter often. Walking the fairways, you catch yourself thinking about the history, the golfers who’ve won there, the people you can’t wait to tell you played there and others, passed on, who you can’t. But nothing lasts forever. After driving back down Magnolia Lane, taking a left and turning into a Walgreens parking lot to get luggage in order for the flight back home, the real world comes back at you quickly.

No matter, playing Augusta National guarantees you own airport small-talk forever. 

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