34 things that make the Masters one of the quirkiest events in sports

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David Cannon/Getty

The Masters is one of the most unusual events in sports.

It’s all about tradition, and it’s defined by a set of odd rules and customs that just don’t exist outside of Augusta National.

It’s great.

We compiled the oddest traditions that make the Masters and Augusta one of a kind.

Tony Manfred contributed to this report.


Food prices are ridiculously low.

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Harry How/Getty Images

Read more: Food and beer at the Masters is the biggest bargain in sports


Tipping is banned.

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Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Source: NYT


Cell phones are prohibited at all times and cameras are not permitted during the tournament.

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Andrew Redington/Getty Images

It’s one of the only places in the U.S. where there are long lines for payphones.

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@AshleyKMayo

There’s a huge fence around the course to keep out animals. There has been one deer sighting in the last 65 years and visitors often talk of never seeing a single squirrel.

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Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Source: NYT


Birds are also mysteriously rarely seen at Augusta National. Bird sounds are heard during the television broadcasts, but there is a rumor that those sounds are artificial.

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Andrew Redington/Allsport

“Also, there are no birds, squirrels, insects or any other living creature indigenous to planet earth at the Masters. Nowhere on the property. Well, okay, there must be some somewhere. But the Post’s Dave Sheinin and I made a multi-day quest for a single bird sighting. So far, none. Those bird calls that you sometimes hear on the Masters broadcast? The source remains undiscovered.” – Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post.


The lakes are also reportedly artificially enhanced to look immaculate on TV. Golf Digest tested the water on one hole in 1996 and found food dye.

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Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Source: Golf Digest


But like many golf courses, there is good fishing at Augusta National. The players, though, don’t like to talk about it because it is forbidden.

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Scott Halleran/Getty Images for Golfweek

In 2011, Monte Burke of Forbes interviewed golfers about the best fishing spots on the PGA Tour. When Augusta was brought up, he described their responses as “squeamish” and they only admitted to hearing there were some good spots.

A former caddie was willing to tell Burke that the best spots are the creek in front of the 12th hole (“full of bream”; seen above) and the pond at the 16th hole (“brimming with bass”).


Only 4 minutes of commercials per hour are allowed during the broadcast.

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Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Source: ESPN


TV commentators are not allowed to refer to fans as “fans” or “spectators.” They are to be called “patrons.” In fact, weekly passes to the Masters are called “patron badges.”

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Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The rough is also to be referred to as the “second cut.”

Source: The Age


The Masters banned CBS broadcaster Gary McCord in 1995 for saying, “They don’t cut the greens here at Augusta, they use bikini wax.”

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Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Source: SI


Players had to use local caddies provided by Augusta until 1983. Players still must use local caddies if they play at Augusta outside of Masters week.

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David Cannon/Getty Images

Source: ESPN


Players are allowed to use their own caddies now, but they have to wear the Augusta uniform — green hat, white jumpsuit.

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Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Fans … oops, we mean patrons … patrons aren’t allowed to wear their hats backwards.

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Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Source: NYT


Patrons can bring collapsible chairs to sit on, but those chairs are not allowed to have armrests.

Source: Augusta.com


Running is not allowed, unless you are a player.

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Harry How/Getty Images

Grounds crew members used to wear hard hats.

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@GolfMonthly

There is an odd myth that the grounds crew at Augusta packs the azalea plants with ice if spring comes early. The idea is that this will keep the plants from flowering too soon before the tournament.

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Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Read more: This year’s Masters may help disprove a bizarre conspiracy theory about the tournament and its flowers


There is a house located in the middle of the Augusta National parking lot because the owners refuse to sell it. The family has reportedly turned down “millions.”

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via Google Maps

Read more: A family keeps turning down millions for their house next to the Masters golf course


You can’t apply to become a member at Augusta and nobody outside of Augusta knows how many members there are.

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REUTERS/Mike Segar

It’s nearly impossible to become a member at Augusta.

You have to be be nominated by a current Augusta member, and new initiations generally aren’t accepted unless someone quits or dies. The total membership hovers around 300.

Source: Augusta.com


Augusta is closed in the summer to keep the course in pristine shape.

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Harry How/Getty Images

Even the press conference podium is immaculate.

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David Cannon/Getty Images

Golfers must return their green jacket to Augusta National one year after winning the Masters. After that, their jacket can only be worn at Augusta National. Also, if a player wins more than one Masters, he does not receive a second green jacket unless his size changes considerably.

Read more: Sergio Garcia does not get to keep his green jacket for winning the Masters, but he does get a replica trophy


There is no set field size for the Masters. Therefore, past winners who get a lifetime invitation to competing in the Masters are not taking spots from younger, more deserving players.

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Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Read more: How to qualify for the Masters, the world’s most prestigious golf tournament


Players are given brand new Mercedes for use during the week.

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Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Golf cart drivers who are hired to drive the players around Augusta National also pick up the golfers at the airport in the Mercedes they will be using. The cars also have a number in the back window so that employees can always identify the players by which car they are in.

Read more: What it’s like to drive Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and other pro golfers around at the Masters, according to one woman who did it


Tickets are dirt cheap; only $325 for a patron badge that grants you access to the entire week. But getting one is a lot like Green Bay Packers season tickets. There is a waiting list and it has been closed since 2000. A limited number of single-day tickets are sold via lottery each year. Those are $115 for the tournament rounds and $75 for practice rounds.

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David Cannon/Getty Images

Read more: How to get tickets to the Masters, one of the most exclusive sporting events in the world


You can go to jail for selling tickets.

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Getty Images

Twenty-four people were arrested outside Augusta in 2012 for trying to scalp tickets.

The course is insane about who it lets into the tournament and it’s illegal to sell tickets within 2,700 feet of the gates.


You can only ask for autographs in one part of the course.

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Harry How/Getty Images

Fans always line the ropes at big tournaments in hopes of getting a signature. But this is tougher to do at Augusta.

You can only try and solicit an autograph on the Washington Road side of the clubhouse, near the practice facilities.


The bunkers at Augusta are filled with mining waste.

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Harry How/Getty Images

You know those pristine white bunkers?

They’re actually composed of waste product from the mining of aluminum, according to Golf.com

Basically, there’s this company that mines feldspar (rocks) for aluminum. This process produces waste in the form of really bright, pure quartz – that’s what Augusta uses.


The old media center was enormous.

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Charlie Riedel

Augusta opened a new media center in 2017 and it is gorgeous.


The new pro shop is unlike any other in sports. It is the only place to buy Masters gear and they offer 125 different styles of caps.

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The Masters

Read more: The Masters’ new pro shop at Augusta National will make any golf fan drool


The course used cows as lawnmowers in the 1940s.

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A close-up picture of the fairways at Augusta.
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@DaveTindallgolf

Augusta is its own universe with a tenuous connection to the outside world (see: all the ridiculous anecdotes in this slideshow).

But WWII affected Augusta just like it did the rest of the country. During the war, Augusta didn’t have the manpower to maintain the course, so they set 200 cattle loose on the grounds in hopes that they would “trim” the grass by eating it.


Now check out what the biggest stars at the Masters used to look like.

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Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters

Photos show what golf’s biggest stars looked like when their careers started