For an hour at Amen Corner, Masters patrons stared into the sky

Masters patrons solar eclipse

Masters patrons view the solar eclipse at Augusta National.

Sean Zak

AUGUSTA, Ga. — At 2:10 p.m. on Monday a lovely walking tour traipsed through the pine straw at Augusta National. An older man in a green jacket, one of the couple hundred members of the club, waxed proudly about Amen Corner, the most iconic stretch of golf holes on the planet, its new(ish) 13th tee box, its tall twirling pines and the unique history of its name. 

ANGC members do plenty of hosting during Masters week, and this host had everyone’s attention. Right until the moment he acknowledged that it was solar eclipse time. Out came the glasses. Up went the foreheads. There went the tour. 

When he suggested the group continue up toward the 13th green, he was met with a pause. The next 10 minutes or so were spent passing around eclipse glasses, special ones emblazoned with the Masters logo, its typical green and yellow colors, even the day’s date: April 8, 2024. Solar eclipses come around once-in-a-long-time, but solar eclipses during Masters Week are once-in-a-lifetime.

It was perfect that the eclipse arrived on a Monday as no day of Masters week has lower stakes. It’s probably when most of those walking tours happen. Players get their first peek at the property, while spectators are more concerned with the merchandise they’ll buy than the golf they’ll witness. 

2:17: “Well, it’s got about a quarter of it…[sound of a ball landing in nearby fairway] Oh, well we are in the landing area.”

Augusta National itself sent a tweet Monday morning with unsurprisingly exacting detail: At 1:50 p.m. the moon would begin to pass between the sun and anyone on site at the Masters. It would last for two hours and 42 minutes, peaking in “obfuscation” at 3:08 p.m. Seventy-six percent of that big ball in the sky would be covered. 

A Masters patron stares into the solar eclipse at Amen Corner. Sean Zak

2:27 — “I’m gonna sell this for a million dollars. Has anyone in your life ever owned a pair of f—king Augusta National eclipse glasses?”

No! Supply and demand are not on his side, considering the club was passing out the glasses by the thousand Monday morning. But check back in a few years to see how many have survived. The next eclipse slated to pass near Georgia is scheduled for 2045. 

With every minute that ticked by, the moon slid further and further in front of the sun while more and more patrons slid into Amen Corner. The club itself claimed this would be the best viewing position. Maybe they were being cheeky. Maybe they knew something we didn’t. The sky in the opposite direction started to turn a more royal blue. A grayer blue.

3:01 — “Looks like it’s about to storm.”

Not a rain cloud in sight. Just plenty of confusion. How could we photograph this moment without our phones? How could we capture it properly with these old digital cameras? Even the photographers at Amen Corner had nothing to do but take photos of the people trying to take the photos. A teenager and his father posed for a commemorative pic of their trip to Amen Corner. In the youngster’s left hand was a divot from the most famous par-3 in the world. In his right hand? Those cheap, cardboard glasses.

augusta national solar eclipse
A pair of patrons try their best to capture the eclipse. Sean Zak

Gallery guards, patrons, security staffers, merchandise sellers — most everyone took part. Adam Schenk had packed his own glasses but was waiting for the right moment to use them. Lucas Glover’s caddie paused to take a peek before trudging up to the 13th tee. What they don’t tell you about eclipses is that 60% of the sun looks a helluva lot like 76%.

3:12 — “Came all the way here, to come inside, to just look up at the sky and see something I could see on the other side of the gate.”

3:20 — “Aww, it’s moving up now, not across. I don’t like that.” 

Amen Corner was deflating now. Maybe a quarter of it departed for other things to look at. What remained was 3:30 p.m. on Monday at the Masters. Not a breath of wind, cigar smoke hanging in the air. It was time to watch golf again. Brooks Koepka was coming through. 

Sean Zak Editor

Zak is a writer at GOLF Magazine and just finished a book about the summer he spent in St. Andrews.

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