Have you ever wondered what The Masters is like in person? Well, I’ve had a gliimpse, and it was one of the most memorable experiences in my life.

In 2012, my family won the lottery. No, it wasn’t millions in the Powerball; in fact, it wasn’t any money at all. On the contrary, we won the chance to spend money.

No, the prize was rich in another way…in history and tradition.

This year marks 10 years since my family won the chance to purchase tickets to the Wednesday practice round of The Masters via the tournament’s online application process.

Due to the incredible demand for tickets to The Masters, the event started a lottery system for practice rounds in 1995 and added tournament days in the 2000s. 

That year, someone finally heard our prayers…and off we went to pay our respects to Amen Corner and the rest of Augusta National. 

We flew down to Atlanta the day before and took the three and a half hour drive to Augusta on Wednesday morning.

Walking in, everything looked like it had been ripped straight from our living room television, and the air was ripe with the scent of the azaleas and the dogwood, peach and cherry trees.

The day started off nice and sunny. Warm, but not too hot. We checked out the driving range first and then headed out to the course.

caitlin moyer at the masters 2012

The Masters holds its Par 3 Contest on Wednesday each year in a single round on a nine-hole, par-27 course in the northeast corner of the club’s grounds, but the crowds were heavy, so we snuck off to see the rest of the course while everyone else was distracted.  

We made our way to the back 9, where we watched a young Rory McIlroy—fresh off his 2011 U.S. Open victory— and saw Bubba Watson, who would eventually go on to win that year’s Masters in a sudden death playoff vs. Louis Oosthuizen.

Next, we toured Amen Corner, taking in more azaleas and dogwoods, as well as Rae’s Creek and the Hogan and Nelson bridges that cross it. We saw the spot where Fred Couples’ ball didn’t go into the water in 1992

We watched pros skip balls across the pond on the par-3 16th, and we saw the spot where Greg Norman’s ball did go into the water in 1996. 

Lunch was at one of Augusta’s famously inexpensive concession stands for a taste of tradition: a pimento cheese sandwich for just $1.50.

the masters pimento cheese sandwich

We were surprised by the things you can’t really tell through a TV screen, like how hilly the 10th hole is and the enormity of the bunkers on the 18th. We were impressed by how every single detail was accounted for, like the Masters logo die cut into the tables. And we were compelled to buy hats and shirts from the merchandise building to commemorate our trip.

Unfortunately, a pop-up storm cut our visit short; the course was evacuated due to lightning and thunder in the area, and the Par 3 Contest was suspended.

But even rain couldn’t rain on this parade; we left grateful for those few precious hours that we got to spend walking the same grounds as Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and many more green jacket winners and legends of the game.  

Prior to 2012, Masters Week was always one of my favorite times of the year, and it’s become even more special since as I reminisce on that trip.  

In just a few days, I’ll be making my own pimento cheese sandwiches, whipping up some Arnold Palmers, and watching from my living room, but in my mind, I’m right there in the gallery, looking on from behind the ropes. 

It truly is a tradition unlike any other. 

What is your favorite Masters moment? Share them with us on social media.

couple at the masters

Caitlin Moyer

Caitlin Moyer has been hacking and hoping since she was 10. Over the course of her career in the sports industry, she's had the chance to play the game with LPGA, MLB and NBA players, as well as NASCAR drivers and celebrities, but her favorite playing partner is her dad (even though he is a stick). Inventor and sole practitioner of the one-flap™ golf swing (patent pending).