I've been to Augusta six times as a patron. My first was a freezing-cold tournament in 2007 when Zach Johnson shot a 69 on Sunday for a 1 over score to win the green jacket.
I love the Masters -- really, I love everything that goes along with it. Some people see it as too stiff or formal for their taste. To me, it's one of the few places in the sports world that's been largely unchanged from the 1930s and 1940s.
Sure, it's changed in the right ways (Condoleezza Rice is the latest example of that), but the spirit of the Masters -- what Brandt Snedeker referred to as a sporting event -- has transcended the space-time continuum. 1934 is 2013 and 2013 is 1934.
With that, my 18 favorite things about Masters week.
1. That Dreamland BBQ sits between my house and Augusta.
2. Arnold Palmer wearing a Masters belt at the ceremonial tee shot last year and ordering himself a "Mr. Palmer" this year.
3. The smell of beer-stained mud and grass -- there's no smell quite like it.
4. Paying $6.50 for two sandwiches, some chips, a drink, and a banana. $6.50! At arguably the greatest sporting event in the world! You'd have to take out a loan to get the same meal at the Super Bowl.
5. In Augusta, former champs are revered more than future ones.
6. Last year I was walking on No. 10 toward the tee box and I looked to my right to see Jack Nicklaus on the back porch of one of the cabins. He was just sitting there with a drink, taking in the Masters. It was startling.
7. It doesn't matter if you're a billionaire or have $100 to your name, at the Masters, you're a patron. There are no suites, no skyboxes, just golf.
8. Bubba Watson in all-white and
9. The electricity coming from wherever Tiger Woods is on the course on any day, Thursday through Sunday.
10. Finding out where folks are from while standing in line at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday morning to try to get good spots for the weekend action.
11. Seeing the same volunteers for six straight years.
12. Driving 2,000 miles in five days with old friends.
13. Memorizing the hole names while waiting for the next group to play through. Also, trying to figure out how much money golfers are playing for during practice rounds.
14. The $4 pimento cheese-sweet tea-chocolate chip cookie combo that I would pay $20 for. Also, $2.50 beers at 9:00 a.m. is pretty grand.
15. That the holes are called the "first nine" and the "second nine" and they used to be switched.
16. The hand-operated leaderboards. This actually might be my favorite thing about the Masters.
17. The look on friends' faces when you hand them a hat or shirt with that little insignia on it.