It's one of the hardest "gets" in all of professional sports -- a ticket to the Masters. Traditionally, the only way to attend professional golf's most-celebrated event was to be well-connected. That changed, if only a little bit, in 2011 when the ultra-exclusive and very private Augusta National Golf Club began offering an online application process for tickets to the public. Applying is akin to playing the lottery, with winners chosen by random selection. As the saying for any lottery goes, "You can't win if you don't play."
Entering the Lottery
You can apply once a year for the random selection process to purchase daily tournament tickets to the Masters. You may also apply for tickets to the practice rounds before tournament play begins. Applications are accepted through the official Masters website; there's no other way to apply. Create an account at the website and provide your personal contact information. If selected, you'll be notified via email with further instructions for purchasing tickets. Since demand far outweighs supply, consider yourself very lucky if you get that email. It's not the golden ticket, but a chance to buy one, so make your purchase ASAP lest your ticket allotment goes to someone else. Tickets usually sell out by June for the next year's tournament, in April, so apply early.
Know Before You Go
If you purchase tickets, you can't re-sell them. The account holder who purchased the tickets must be present to enter the grounds of Augusta National. Another important thing to know before heading to the club is that you'll go through a security screening process more intense than at airports. Cell phones, cameras and electronic devices aren't allowed on the grounds, neither are large bags, including purses. Small purses and bags to carry items such as sunscreen and keys are allowed but will be searched. The only exception to these prohibitions: cameras are allowed during practice rounds, but not cell phone cameras. Augusta National strictly forbids cell phones. You'll be booted from the grounds if caught with one, so leave your mobile device in the car or at the hotel.
Practice rounds always fall on the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Masters Week. Having a practice round ticket lets you experience the hallowed grounds of Augusta National without the overbearing crowds of tournament days. Sure, it'll still be crowded, but you won't be standing 30-people deep around the greens and along the fairways. Plus, you can break out your camera to snap pics of the PGA luminaries as they swing past you on the links. Don't miss out on the fun at the 16th hole when the crowd chants for players to skip the ball across the pond to the green, and cheers erupt when they do.
The Par 3 Contest
Perhaps the funnest event of Masters Week is the Par 3 Contest on Wednesday. Tournament participants, along with their family members and retired legends of the game, play a casual round on Augusta National's par 3 course in a competition where the goal is, seemingly, not to win. Little kids act as caddies, spouses of the players make final puts and the pros are seen laughing together and with the crowd before the seriousness of the tournament begins the next day. A Wednesday practice round ticket provides admittance to the Par 3 Contest.