If the Masters and Augusta National are known for anything, it's preserving tradition. Tradition makes the annual major tournament one of the prestigious events in sports — and one of the most controversial. But despite its politics, a ticket to the Masters remains one of the hardest for sports fans to get ahold of, often costing "patrons," as they're called, upwards of $3,000 online.
Inside the gates, though, prices plummet drastically. Unlike most sporting events, where concessions vendors gouge captive spectators with $9 Bud Lights and $15 deli sandwiches, it's widely noted inside Augusta's walls that attendees could order everything on the menu and spend no more than $60. The famous pimento cheese sandwich costs $1.50.
Yesterday, as one of the lucky few at the Masters, I decided to put this to the test. My goal: TO CONSUME EVERY ITEM ON THE CONCESSIONS MENU IN ONE DAY WITHOUT DYING/VOMITING/GETTING EJECTED FOR UPSETTING OTHER PATRONS WITH MY UNCONTROLLED "MEAT SWEATS."
Note: Since the tournament does not allow any cameras or phones, receipts will be my evidence. I promise any and all items listed here were consumed by me during Saturday's round.
10:01 a.m.: Chicken Sandwich, Sausage Biscuit, Coffee: $6.00
An auspicious start to the day. Breakfast at the Masters ends promptly (as all things do at Augusta) at 10 a.m. Get to the course too late, and you're done before you've started. Panicked, I barreled through the gates with minutes to spare, walking with purpose (there is absolutely NO RUNNING ALLOWED on the grounds) and made it to breakfast. The spoils: a pretty standard sausage patty on a flavorless biscuit, a startlingly cold chicken patty sandwich, and one Masters blend coffee. REVIEW: An unremarkable meal all around, made somewhat sweeter by almost missing out. ADRENALINE MAKES EVERYTHING TASTE BETTER.
11:22 a.m.: Pimento Cheese Sandwich, Egg Salad Sandwich, Beer: $6.00
Less than 90 minutes after breakfast, I got the urge for round two. I decided to go with two Masters standbys: egg salad and pimento cheese. Both are pretty bare-bones, served between two slices of white bread. They're also my favorites, and I'm certainly not the only one to feel this way. This year alone, thousands of words and more than a few hours of "journalism" have been devoted to understanding the new recipe for the pimento sandwich. I conducted my own study by washing it down with an ice-cold beer because it was before noon and beer always tastes exactly 4.5 times better before noon (SCIENCE!).
12:29 p.m.: Water, Turkey Sandwich, Blue Gatorade, Masters Club Sandwich, Cracker, Banana, Pink Lemonade: $11.50
It is ALWAYS a mistake to eat two dairy-based sandwiches quickly in the sun, and with what felt like the beginnings of a gastrointestinal meltdown on account of the egg salad and pimento, I began to get nervous. The menu was bigger than I thought. Terrified, I panicked, ordering my biggest ticket of the day and quickly jamming down two sandwiches in minutes — drinks too. The sun was high as I found a place in the fifth green grandstands. A cute woman in a sundress walked past and our eyes met. She said nothing, but she knew right away. She looked away quickly, hastening her gait. I was alone.
3:05 PM: Pink Lemonade, Iced Tea, Candy (Snickers), Peanuts, BBQ Sandwich: $8.00
The next few hours pass by in a drowsy haze. Sometime in the 3 p.m. hour, Tiger's pairing arrived to the fifth hole. Finding it shameful that I was in the proximity of one of the most finely tuned athletes of all time in my bloated state, I left, stopping on my way to the 13th to inhale a Snickers bar, pulled pork BBQ sandwich, a sleeve of peanuts, and two sugary, sugary drinks. I tried to avoid eye contact with any and all humans. I failed.
3:53 p.m.: Ham & Cheese Sandwich, Water (2x), Diet Coke, Peach Ice Cream Sandwich: $9.00
It was nearly 4 p.m. This had stopped being fun hours ago. From the grandstands of the picturesque 13th hole, golfers were coming and going. Woods again. I clapped politely but I kind of didn't care. I was worried I'd made a tactical mistake as far back as breakfast. Roughly six hours ago I passed up a shot at the blueberry muffin, hoping I'd be more amenable later in the day. I hadn't seen one available since. This was my life now. Muffin concerns. The sun was getting lower in the sky. Time now my enemy, I ate a ham and cheese followed by the Georgia peach ice cream sandwich. A quick note about the Georgia peach ice cream sandwich: This is the best ice cream sandwich you will ever eat. Typing now, hours later, next to an empty Maalox bottle, I would still eat five more of these. LIKE A GREEN JACKET FOR YOUR MOUTH.
5:12 p.m.: Chicken Wrap, Veggie Wrap, Chips, Imported Beer: $10.50
At 5 p.m. I was in line with the 2005 pledge class of absolutely every single fraternity from every single SEC school. Last call. Dignity long gone, I casually strolled through the line and picked up a veggie wrap. A young girl next to me in a blue T-shirt that said "SWAG" was complaining about not being able to use her phone. I sheepishly grabbed a beer just to fit in.
7:08 p.m.: Water, Cookie: $2.50
With the last golfers off the course, the sun was all but set and I was two pastries away from my own culinary grand slam of shame. I walked with purpose to the main gates, worried the entire time that everyone was picking up on the fat panic attack that was playing out inside my head. I made it to the concessions counter not long after 7 p.m. I was THE ONLY PERSON IN THE CONCESSION AREA INCLUDING EMPLOYEES. I looked around, hoping to find both the cookie and muffin that would immortalize me forever as "an idiot with a slightly heightened risk of diabetes." An employee arrived and I explained my quest. She could only find the cookie. I would miss immortality by a muffin.
LESSONS LEARNED: The sun is your enemy when eating mayonnaise. Veggie wraps are terrible. I can eat 10 (medium-sized) sandwiches in one day. Peach ice cream sandwiches were put on this earth by a higher power. Fruit is bullshit. My fingers can swell to at LEAST twice their normal size. You do not need to bring more than $20 if you want to adequately feed yourself and a guest at the Masters for a day.