How to Play Golf at Augusta

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Every April Augusta National hosts The Masters, the first professional major championship of the year. Golfers around the world have fallen in love with the course, situated in the midst of the Georgia pines. But few have the opportunity to play the course, as it is one of the most exclusive courses in the world. But there are ways to play the course that Bobby Jones built, even if you don't have the bankroll.

  • Become a member. Sounds easy, and the annual dues for Augusta are reportedly low (perhaps around $10,000, but Augusta National officials never confirm such information). But membership is by invitation only and there is no application process. And you'd better be a mover and shaker. Members include former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and billionaire Warren Buffett. Oh, and if you're a woman, you're out of luck, at least for membership.

  • Be friends with a member. Augusta is like a normal country club. Members can invite guests to play. If you can buddy up to Gates or Buffett, there's always a chance they'll extend an invitation.

  • Play in or win The Masters. Champions such as Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods are awarded a lifetime honorary membership for winning the tournament. But the privilege has a catch. Even former champions must be accompanied by a member when they play the rest of the year. Top-flights amateurs are still invited to play, so winning one of several USGA amateur events will also earn you an invite.

  • Join the media. Yes, if you can gain a legitimate media credential to cover The Masters, there's a chance you can play the course. Tournament officials typically invite a set numbers of media members to play the course the day after The Masters has concluded. Being a real journalist --- newspaper, magazine or television --- helps your cause. If you're a member of the local media, former Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle employee Les Simpson says they typically get the chance to play once per year.

  • Volunteer for The Masters. Augusta National takes care of its volunteers, as they can sign up to play during one of three designated days, writes Chicago-area PGA Club pro Scott Szybowicz.

  • Caddy at Augusta. Few clubs employ human caddies anymore, but Augusta National does. At the end of each season (late May), the caddies get the run of the place for one day. They play as many holes as they want and Augusta National provides a buffet, according to Golf Digest editor Ron Kaspriske.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't bother going in the summer. Aside from the stifling humidity, Augusta National is closed in the summer for maintenance and course renovations. The season ends in May and resumes in October. Be prepared to tip. Even guests, journalists and others that play the course are required to use a caddy --- and caddies like tips.

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