Are you watching the Masters on TV this weekend for the umpteenth year in a row and again left to dream what it would be like to be at Augusta National in person, just once?
We tracked down eight people from the Sacramento area who took the leap for the first time this year and spoke to them, before and after their experience, to see how Masters reality meshed with expectation.
Their tickets were acquired in different ways, but several paid top-dollar through a broker.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal at my age (so the cost was secondary),” said Buzz Wiesenfeld, 69, who attended with a Cal alumni travel group.
Ancil Hoffman’s Dane Bohrer is a PGA member and, as such, is admitted free. Mike Dadey got four Wednesday tickets through the annual Masters ticket lottery after trying unsuccessfully for 20 years. He called Augusta National in June after he received a confirmation email because he couldn’t believe his good fortune.
“I thought it might be spam,” he said of the good-news email. A woman in a Southern drawl confirmed he was indeed a winner. “That’s correct,” she said. “See you in April.”
With resale ticket prices at an all-time high this year because of Tiger Woods’ return to form, Wednesday tickets with a $75 face value were selling for $1,500 – Dadey said his wife suggested he sell them.
“I said, ‘No way. This is a bucket list item.’ ” He shared the tickets with three buddies who made a pact that whoever won would take the other three.
Ron Andres, 67, Carmichael
Tickets acquired: Purchased through the Northern California Golf Association
Expectation/looking forward to most: I’ve heard so much about the course and how meticulous it’s kept. I’m looking forward to experiencing that. I’m looking forward to the Southern hospitality.
Reality? The Masters is such a historic venue it brings up expectations that are beyond golf. This was the ultimate. It’s so well done. The course itself struck me, as the topography is as dramatic as hell. If I were to put on golf shoes I would be shaking at the thought of playing. The hills have hills. The greens are maniacal; there are hills in there, too. It’s like five levels above what I expected – and I expected a lot. What also impressed me were the logistics and how they moved people in and out of that facility. Lines that you think are going to take two hours take five minutes.
Dane Bohrer, 55, Carmichael
Attended: Thursday, Friday
Tickets acquired: As a PGA member, admission is free
Expectation/looking forward to most: The main thing I want to see is the golf course after seeing it for so many years on TV. The lay of the land. I want to see Amen Corner – 11, 12 and 13 – and see how that plays out.
Reality? Everything is run like a Swiss watch. From the parking lot right through the bathrooms to the number of employees ... they must have hired somebody from Disney. The driving range is a special setup. We spent a lot of time there watching the guys. From a teaching professional's standpoint, we got a kick out of the number of guys working with their coaches right up until the time they teed off. The only real downside—and it’s not much of one, having been to other professional events—you couldn’t get as close to the action along the fairways. Along the fairways, you are a pretty good ways from people hitting shots in most cases. Maybe it’s the aesthetics they want for TV, but you know why there were so many people around the tees and greens.
Rhea Brunner, 62, Sacramento
Tickets acquired: Purchased through ticket broker
Expectation/looking forward to most: I’m looking forward to seeing No. 13 with the water in the front and all the azaleas in the back. They’re always showing that hole on TV and I want to see all the beauty of that.
Reality? The Masters far exceeded my expectations in a bunch of ways, the biggest being how they make you feel. At most big events, you feel like cattle. You have to wait in lines wherever you go, you feel accosted by officials telling you to be quiet or you can’t do this. There was none of that. I was the most relaxed I’ve been at a big event, with the exception of the speed walk when the gates opened to get our chairs down where we wanted. Everyone abided by golf protocol without having to be constantly reminded. It was the epitome of Southern hospitality. Every person made you feel welcome as if you were a guest in their home.
Mike Dadey, 52, Elk Grove
Tickets acquired: Annual ticket lottery
Expectation/looking forward to most: Everyone says it’s so hilly and proper and completely different from other tournaments I’ve been to. I want to see how it compares with the U.S. Opens and Ryder Cup that I’ve been to.
Reality? It was above expectations. I was trying to come up with a word – enormity. It’s just huge, from the free parking lots to the driving range to the merchandise store ... then you walk out and the second you see the course, there’s so much grass that has probably never even seen a golf ball. It’s amazing. We went right over and put our chair on the first hole of the par-3 course. The par-3 tournament was really interactive. Everyone was having a good time. I could literally put my feet on the fringe of the green. That’s how close we were. In the same respect, there was some disappointment. Tiger was talking about playing. Mickelson said he was going to play. Neither played, and we didn’t know that until right before they started.
Eric Jarvis, 48, Sacramento
Tickets acquired: Friend won in lottery
Expectation/looking forward to most: I want to see the best manicured golf course in the world. I’m looking forward to getting an egg salad sandwich. I want to know if people truly don’t run at Augusta. I can’t imagine that. I want to see the legends in the par-3 contest. Is it really as hilly and as hard to walk as they say? Is it true that you can put your chair down and no one will mess with it? I’m looking forward to going to the merchandise tent, and at the same time I’m a little scared because I’m afraid I’m going to spend an insane amount of money.
Reality? While I did expect the elevation changes, there were spots I thought were flat that weren’t. Nothing was flat. The drop going from the second tee to the second green was way more than I thought. You could tell the players were happy to be there. You could tell the place makes players happy and comfortable. The merchandise store was a problem for me. I think I bought 23 things. It was overwhelming. I could have spent another hour in there. I think I helped increase the average expenditure.
Jennifer O’Brien, 62, Sacramento
Tickets acquired: Purchased through ticket broker
Expectation/looking forward to most: I’m looking forward to seeing this beautiful course I’ve heard so much about and to following Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and my favorite, Freddy Couples.
Reality? It was overwhelming. That first first day, walking onto those wide fairways, TV just doesn’t do it justice. It’s as if they rolled out carpet. Some of us actually thought the turf was artificial it was so pristine. The employees, I can’t believe how friendly everyone was. You didn’t have all those hospitality tents like at other tournaments so the course was more natural.
Brady Siravo, 13, Sacramento
Tickets acquired: Dad purchased
Expectation/looking forward to most: I’m looking forward to seeing some of the traditions like the players skipping balls off the water on 16. I expect to see Tiger and be amazed by how good he is. They have a new merchandise store. I really want to check that out.
Reality? I learned a lot stuff that I didn’t know before. The course and how it’s laid out, I didn’t realize it had all those hills and stuff. Wow, you can’t tell that on TV. The merchandise store was great. I got a lot of stuff. I went back three times. I saw Tiger a little bit. He brings a different crowd. I saw the honorary starters (Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player). It was cool seeing some of the greatest players ever.
Buzz Wiesenfeld, 69, Carmichael
Attended: Wednesday, Friday
Tickets acquired: Purchased through tour organizer
Expectation/looking forward to most: It’s spectacularly beautiful on TV and I want to see it in person. The place is dripping with history and I want to see some of those places great shots have occurred and slides into oblivion have started.
Reality? The course is big. The place is a monster. They say it’s the cathedral of golf, and it’s every bit of that and more. The course is stunning in size and I’m not just talking about length. It’s something to behold. It takes your breath away when you’re walking through it for the first time. I read Bobby Jones’ directions in the spectator’s guide and I hung out in those locations and they were great. I really enjoyed the par-3 experience. The players seemed to genuinely like the place. I stayed (two-and-a-half hours away) in Savannah and would stay closer if I get to go again.