If you're in Augusta for the Masters (April 9-12), or if you're heading to Augusta National, there are some rules of engagement for the legendary course that you should know. I haven't been there in a few years, so I asked a few of my friends — guys who've been of late — to offer their suggestions for this primer. Here's what you need to know:
- No cell phones, beepers and other electronics are allowed on the grounds (do not try to sneak one in; there are metal detectors that rival the toughest airport); also, no bags, backpacks or folding chairs (they sell them); and no alcohol or coolers, either.
- No need to eat before you go; food is really cheap (most value in sports). The chicken sandwich tastes best (better than KFC or Popeye's outside — and cheaper). Egg salad is not bad either. But they stop serving beer at 4 p.m.
- Select the hole you want to watch (Amen Corner and No. 16 are good spots) and stake out your spot with a chair in the morning. When the golfers come by in the afternoon, your seat will be there un-moved. The hillside under the 6th tee is a good viewing spot to see at least two holes. Also, a good viewing spot is between holes 1 and 2. And near the green on three, you can see from the tee to the green on No. 4 and also one other hole.
- No refunds for rainouts, so be prepared to stick it out until they tell you to go home.
- No autographs are allowed on the golf course, only in the parking lot.
- Do not try to scam your way in by saying you're the Godfather of Soul. The local (former) resident is dead.
- If you snap a picture (cameras are allowed!) in the midst of someone's backswing, be prepared to join the Godfather of Soul.
- Listen intently as your host recounts one Augusta story after another, no matter how many times you've heard it (unless you don't want to get invited back).
- Get there early enough to watch the top golfers warm up on the driving range — it may be your best vantage of the day.
- On your first day there, go to the store to buy all the stuff you want then go to the UPS trailer and send it home. Then go watch golf.
- Go see the trophies across from the main store near the entrance.
- Head to 18 long before the leaders hit 15.
- Did I tell you they stop selling beer at 4 p.m.?
- You can buy cigars across the street from the main gates at good prices.
- If you haven't arranged for golf play by now, you won't be playing golf.