THE MASTERS IS the most prestigious golf tournament in the world, in part because it’s played on one the most exclusive golf courses in the world: Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia.
The 300-member club boasts no pool or kiddie playground or even much of a social scene — just an amazing golf course, guarded by a long list of arcane and (occasionally) outdated rules.
It’s a “tradition unlike any other” because even the snootiest country clubs have long since abandoned the most ridiculous of these rituals of manners and etiquette — like not letting women join — and replaced them with common sense.
1. No women
Augusta National Golf Club has never had a woman member in its 78-year history. They didn’t even admit their first African-American member until 1990.
2. No membership applications
You don’t ask to be a member of Augusta National. You must be nominated by a current member and new initiations generally aren’t accepted unless someone quits (which never happens) or dies. The total membership stays pretty constant at around 300. And the only way to get invited is to act like you don’t want to be invited. Begging for membership is the surest way to guarantee you won’t get in. Bill Gates was famously shut out for years, because he publicly expressed his desire to land a membership. (He was finally let in, in 2002.)
3. Caddys must wear white jumpsuits
Prior to 1983, even the pros playing The Masters had to use Augusta’s own caddys to carry their clubs. They can bring their own assistants now, but the bag jockeys are still required to wear the trademark white jumpsuits. (One benefit of having to trudge around the course in that ridiculous outfit? Augusta caddys get to play the course once a year.)
4. No running
Though it’s a common sight at other tournaments as fans scramble for the best viewing spots on each hole, running anywhere on the course is grounds for dismissal.
5. No phones, cameras or electronic devices
Cell phones, beepers, and other electronic devices are strictly prohibited and blocked at the gate with airport quality metal detectors. Cameras (other than credentialed media, who also have strict rules) are only allowed during practice rounds. Security guards will confiscate any “contraband” and egregious violators can lose their tickets and be ejected from the grounds. The rules apply to players too. Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell were reprimanded this week for taking video and photos on the grounds and in the clubhouse and posting them online.
Tweeting? Don’t even think about it.
6. No unattended guests
Members must physically accompany their guests at all times and are responsible for their conduct while on the grounds. If the member has to leave the course, even in the middle of a round, then the friend has to go too.
7. No autographs
Other courses might allow you to approach the players during downtime or when they’re wrapping up a round (and rules are relaxed during the practice rounds), but asking for autographs on game day is a big no-no.
8. No tickets
Patron badges for The Masters are the most coveted ticket in sports — passed down through families for generations — because Augusta hasn’t sold new ones to spectators in 47 years. Until this week, that is, when they announced that a very small number of single day tickets will be made available for 2012… but don’t hold your breath.
9. No backwards caps
While giving an interview in the media center last year, Ricky Fowler was kindly asked by a Masters official to turn his baseball cap forward to the proper alignment. So rude!
10. No fishing
Some water hazards on tour are notoriously good fishing ponds and players have been known to pack a rod and reel in their bag for a quick cast during breaks in play. But not at Augusta National. Or at least not in any way that anyone is willing to talk about. Maybe if you’re the President — like former club member Dwight Eisenhower — you can get away with it. But bragging about the one that got away is not allowed.