The sports world zeroes in on Augusta each April for The Masters. When Tiger Woods is playing good golf, the entire universe tunes in. With Woods back at the No. 1 position for the first time since October 2010, the excitement surrounding this year’s event (April 11 through 14) is at a near fever pitch. If you were able to score an impossible-to-find tournament badge, congratulations. This guide will help you (and any ticketless friends) find food and fun around the city to try once Tiger and Co. have finished their rounds for the day.
What to Know
We’re assuming you already have lodging set for the week because the Augusta Marriott, Partridge Inn and every other reputable hotel within a 100-mile radius of Augusta have been sold out for months. But if you have unexpectedly stumbled upon a golden ticket and have yet to book a hotel, there are still some rooms available in Atlanta—try the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta or the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta. Both are about a 2.5-hour drive to the legendary golf club, which isn’t so bad considering you’ve snagged tickets to the biggest golf event of the year.
We’re also guessing you have badges in place for every person in your group—yes, grade-schoolers need tickets too—considering those have been reserved since before last year’s tournament. If those details are squared away, the most important things to know about the course are that parking is free, the dress is golf casual and the on-site food is good (don’t miss the famed pimento cheese sandwiches) and cheap (scoop up a chicken biscuit for $1.50).
Come mid-April, spring is in full bloom in Augusta, so you can expect temps to hover around the high 70s or low 80s, though mornings and evenings are a bit chillier with lows in the 50s. And don’t forget to leave your cell phone and camera at home when official play tees off—although you can bring your camera to practice rounds April 8-10.
What to Eat
When you tire of basic snacks at the club, the city offers a number of options for spectators of all tastes. Calvert’s Restaurant, a longstanding Augusta fine-dining staple, is a dark-paneled, candlelit charmer serving stuffed mushrooms and roasted rack of lamb so delicious that athletes and celebrities migrate to the place during Masters week.
Another staple around Augusta is Frog Hollow Tavern, a wonderful spot to wind down with a burger and bourbon after the day’s action. And Kitchen 1454 may be relatively new to the Augusta dining scene, but with its delightful regionally focused menu of comfort foods and homemade sides, it won’t be long before it becomes a neighborhood treasure.
What to Do
Though you’re in Augusta to watch 2012 Masters champion Bubba Watson and all of the other PGA pros battle it out, there’s no rule saying you can’t do other things while you’re in town. Unless you’re a geography wiz, we can bet you didn’t know that Augusta is the second largest city in Georgia—so even when the play ends for the day, there’s plenty to do in the golf-crazed town. Artists Row, an impressive collection of galleries from artisans all around the globe, and the picture-perfect Augusta Riverwalk have been go-to attractions around the city for years.
On April 8, golf fans (with or without tournament badges) will gather at Augusta Common for the Mayor’s Master Reception, a food-sampling good time that’s honoring 1982 Masters champ Craig Stadler this year. And on April 10-12, Evans Towne Center Park (about eight miles from Augusta National Golf Club) will host the family-friendly Columbia County Championship Festival. Nashville Star winner Chris Young and rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd headline the inaugural three-day spectacle.
Photos Courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and Frog Hollow Tavern