If you don’t buy Masters merchandise, did you even go to the Masters?

Patrons line up to enter the Masters Golf Shop on Monday at Augusta National.

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AUGUSTA, Ga. — A good time to go the Masters Golf Shop is when Tiger Woods plays. It’s still busy, but it’s less busy. Not the kind of line-out-the-door-and-around-the-corner kind of busy. You have to go eventually. Everyone does, so you must plan accordingly.

You see, Masters merch is some of the most coveted gear in the golf world. Because let’s face it, if you went to the Masters and didn’t get a Masters polo, T-shirt, mug, hat, watch, ball marker, key chain, koozie, quarter-zip, sweatshirt, wine glass, towel, valuables pouch, coaster, umbrella or $17 pet collar, did you really even go to the Masters at all?

The Golf Shop at Augusta National is still somewhat new. Most people call it a merch tent instead of a Golf Shop, but it’s a Golf Shop. Calling it a merch tent would be a slap in the face to the structure and architect who built such a marvel. 

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Anyway, the old Golf Shop was in the same general area but this new location is much bigger and fancier. If you can endure the line, which actually moves pretty quickly, you are funneled into a maze that marches you from one end to the other, then back again, then again, and then around, before it spits you out in the main entry. The maze seems excessive, but it builds anticipation. Once inside, grab a shopping bag — way easier to buy more stuff — and the mad dash begins, your own personal game of “Supermarket Sweep.”

Now, if you think following Tiger Woods among the swarm of patrons in his return to the Masters will make you claustrophobic, try buying a Masters polo. The lines for kids clothes are equally long, as all those infant and toddler sizes give dads headaches.

Grandmas walk around checking off things on their Christmas lists and wondering aloud if their son will even use the Masters cocktail glasses more than once a year, while nearby college kids ponder the perfect metal sign to put up in their rental homes. A TRADITION UNLIKE ANY OTHER or the Masters logo? Who can decide?!

If you’re bad with decisions, the Golf Shop isn’t for you. There are dozens of different shirts and quarter-zips and over 150 kinds of hats. One-hundred-fifty.

At the Masters, everyone loves the gnomes.

Stephen Denton

Want $75 cuff links you’ll wear twice a year? You have a few to choose from. More than a dozen ties. Four kinds of coasters. There’s a limited-edition Arnold Palmer coin set for $750, and while this would normally be a good time to joke about anyone paying so much for any four coins, the man next to me had no problem doing exactly that.

Some of the best stuff is near the checkout. The keychains and playing cards and ball markers that aren’t expensive on their own, but pick up a few and — bam! Fifty more bucks.

But the top-seller? It’s those gnomes again. Everybody loves the gnomes. They first debuted a couple of Masters ago and different variations pop up every year. This year they are the gallery guard gnomes, and according to one plugged-in cashier, they sold out in the first 10 minutes they were available on Monday. They had to limit how many people could buy and they still fly off the shelves every day they are restocked.

Someone returned a golf towel to the rack only for a patron coming in seconds later to gobble it up. The worker restocking the towels says he does so often. He had trouble guessing how many towels are sold in a day. No matter, none will be left behind.

Josh Berhow

Golf.com Editor

Josh Berhow is the managing editor at GOLF.com. The Minnesota native graduated with a journalism degree from Minnesota State University in Mankato. You can reach him at joshua_berhow@golf.com.