Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters Champion, receives his Green Jacket from Phil Mickelson.
I could drone on in this space with some sappy, sentimental essay about Augusta National and The Masters, but I won't.
Instead, I'll share some of my knowledge of this wonderful place and give tips to those watching with a coveted badge or from their couch.
The Masters is so special simply because it's the only major held on the same course every year.
Golf fans have become intensely familiar with CBS' piano-laden theme and shots of Magnolia Lane, Amen Corner and golfers walking up the hill to the 18th green on Sundays.
Here are 10 important holes and Augusta experiences to look out for.
Wednesday's Practice Round is one of the tougher tickets to obtain during Masters week solely because of the popular Par 3 Contest.
The Par-3 Course at Augusta National sits to the east of the clubhouse and stretches 1,060 yards over Ike's and DeSoto's Ponds.
The course itself is not the attraction; instead, it's an opportunity to see golfers relaxed and in a more intimate setting than during any other part of the week.
Children caddie for their fathers. Holes-in-one are hit. Golfers interact with patrons.
The Masters prides itself on being the most dignified tournament in golf, but the Par-3 Contest is the sole exception.
Since Masters apparel is only available at Augusta National itself, it’s not uncommon for visitors to make enough purchases to outfit the entire tournament field.
One cashier I spoke to on Saturday of the 2011 Masters calmly told me the most she had rung up for one patron so far that week was more than $9,000.
Augusta National’s not complaining.
I'll be honest: I'm not a big fan of the National's legendary Pimento Cheese sandwiches.
I am, however, a proponent of Augusta's barbeque chicken sandwiches and $1.50 sodas (simply because they help build my Masters cup collection).
If my memory serves me correctly, I drank 7 or 8 cups of soda at last year's tournament, and paid for two full meals with less than $15.
For those fans who shell out a few months' worth of salary to attend the Masters and those who are used to exorbitant concession prices at sporting events, it's a welcome sight to see food and drink items priced so reasonably.
Amen Corner receives all the hype, but the Par-3 4th serves as a difficult test on one of Augusta National's most demanding stretches that includes the Par-4 3rd and 5th holes and the Par-3 6th.
It’s a nice spectator hole because patrons can park themselves on the hill overlooking the green and watch as winds swirl off Berckman's Road and make controlling distance and trajectory on this long Par-3 a chore for even the most precise shot makers.
The 6th Hole, Another of Augusta's intimidating Par 3's.
TV coverage does the Par-3 6th hole little justice.
Simply put, sitting on the hill (almost a cliff, really) below the tee box here is the best vantage point on the course for watching multiple holes at once.
Patrons can watch tee shots fly over their heads to the steeply-tiered 6th green, approach shots fly into, and often over, the shallow Par-5 15th green, and shots over the lake on the Par-3 16th.
As a bonus, it’s generally well-shaded and is close to concession and bathroom areas.
I’m not entirely sure why I enjoy this spot so much.
I suppose it’s because there’s such a wide variety of shots—good, bad, and those that roll back down the hill—that no two groups that come through are alike.
Sitting to the right side of the 9th green (the non-bunker side) allows patrons to see golfers fly their drives down the hill, then hit their approaches back up a steep hill.
The green is protected by bunkers on the left and the front of the green will send weak shots 50 or 60 yards back down the hill.
Golfers will live and die by their tee shots here—anywhere to the left of the fairway will make for a difficult par, while going right will allow players a better angle into the green.
The dogleg-left, downhill Par-4 10th may very well be as tough as the more well-known holes it precedes.
Masters fans may remember this hole as the one which started Rory McIlroy’s epic collapse in 2011.
Again, the drive here makes all the difference.
Sitting behind the 10th tee box provides a perfect viewpoint for watching players hit their high draws to attempt to catch the downslope some 280 yards down the fairway.
One of my favorite spots is to the uphill side of the TV tower to the right of the fairway, where you can see drives coming downhill and approach shots hit onto a tricky green that’s constantly shrouded in shadows.
The sign says it all.
I’d be willing to bet that most first-timers at Augusta, if they were to choose one place on the course to visit right off the bat, would choose Amen Corner.
Their eagerness to see this stretch is justified, to be sure.
The grandstand behind the 12th tee box may be the best grandstand on the grounds; it allows patrons to see approaches into the Par-4 11th and the entirety of the (in)famous Par-3 12th.
Players will spend agonizing minutes on the tee box at 12 deciding which club to use, but the winds meeting off the 11th and 13th holes create a mini-cyclone and reduce golfers to simply going with their gut and hoping for favorable conditions.
A word of advice: be prepared to sweat through your clothes on a warm day here.
A view from one of two large grandstands on either side of the 15th green
Here’s another spot that puts patrons in the middle of the action.
Again, the metal grandstands create miniature heat islands; nevertheless, it’s an exciting place to be during late-round action.
At the 2011 Masters, Tiger Woods stuck his approach here to 6 feet, and the crowd was on the verge of hysteria (by Augusta National standards, at least).
More often than not, patrons will watch as golfers cannot get enough height on their approach shots and fly the green as a result, which, in truth, is not necessarily a bad place to be.
An iconic shot: the narrow driving alley golfers face on the Par-4 18th
The 18th hole at Augusta National holds a certain mystique, especially on Sunday, when patrons flood the area as the final groups come through in hopes of seeing a memorable shot or picture-perfect moment.
Trust me, though, when I say it’s overrated.
As finishing holes in championship golf go, it’s not particularly spectator-friendly.
Patrons standing along the fairway cannot see much, if any, of the green, while those standing above the green cannot see tee shots or golfers in the fairway.
What’s more: Augusta National members and their guests are allowed on the grounds earlier than normal badge holders, meaning they get the pick of the litter in terms of green-side seating here.
You’re better off finding a place on Washington Road to catch the conclusion of the tournament.