Craig and Jo Allsopp at the Masters Tournament in April

Editor’s Note: Craig Allsopp and his wife, Jo Allsopp, came to Quechee 17 years ago after moving from New Jersey. They are QLLA residents and avid golfers, and they enjoy many of the activities offered by the Quechee Club, including golfing, skiing, and pickleball. Craig served on the QLLA Board of Trustees for a number of years, and Jo is an active member of the Green Committee.

Craig is a retired journalist who worked for United Press International (UPI) and Dow Jones. Jo has worked as an office manager, dentist, and in real estate, as well as full-time mother to their three children, who are now grown up and come to visit with their own children.

In April, Craig and Jo attended the Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia for the first time together. Read on to hear Craig’s firsthand account of their experience over the course of the four-day event, and why they’d go again in a heartbeat.

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Every golf fan dreams about it. Tickets to the Masters.

The text came in January from Jo’s sister. “Do you and Craig want to go to the Masters? Mike’s ex-wife can’t use her tickets this year?” I barely heard the words before Jo said: “I’m going to text back ‘yes’.”

Fast forward to Wednesday, April 10 – the day we arrived in Georgia to attend golf’s most prestigious and iconic major tournament. For golf fans, the Masters is like the World Series, the Super Bowl, and a heavyweight championship fight all rolled into one. It is a celebration of spring – an homage to tradition and a reminder that shared experiences like the Masters are the best.

The exact number of ticket holders, called patrons, is a closely guarded secret. We guessed about 50,000 people joined us on the course each of the four tournament days. Many have attended for decades. Some are diehards who know every blade of grass over the 18 holes at Augusta National. Others are casual fans who scored tickets from friends or family members or the annual Masters lottery. Others are the lucky guests of corporate sponsors. Nearly everyone attending wears a golf shirt sporting a club logo. I was by the sixth green on Sunday when a fan recognized my Quechee Club shirt and said how much he loved playing our courses. Things like that just happen at the Masters.

Masters Tournament, April 2024 in Augusta, Georgia.

Thursday, April 11

We awoke in darkness. Power was out at the cottage where we stayed. It had stormed overnight, with enough rain and wind to postpone the starting tee times by a couple of hours. We checked the weather on our phones and saw it was likely to clear by late morning. We didn’t see our phones again until 8pm on Thursday night.

Cell phones are not permitted on the grounds during the Masters. Maybe a player or a green-jacketed member slips a phone past security, but no one else stands a chance.  I asked patrons – from age 20 to 70 – what they thought of the cell phone ban. Without exception, they praised it.

“I like it a lot,” said one woman. “It’s a nice break from my phone. Instead of staring at it, I watch the action and make new friends.” But even without distractions, watching the best players in the world can be dangerous.

We were in the grandstand by the fifth green on Thursday when Will Zalatoris flared his approach shot to the right. “It’s coming this way,” one fan shouted. A moment later we heard a “thunk.” About 20 feet away a man grabbed his head. Blood streamed down his face as he was escorted to first aid.

Zalatoris walked over to check on the man. He was clearly shaken. No golfer – pro or hacker – wants to hurt anyone with an errant shot. But Zalatoris regrouped after a poor pitch to the green and chipped in for a par.

Jo and I circled the course to watch former winners like Phil Mickelson and Freddie Couples, as well as current players Keegan Bradley (Jo’s favorite), Scottie Scheffler, Max Homa and Justin Thomas.

We watched Thomas hit a soaring drive off the 11th tee. And, yes, we caught Tiger Woods on his approach to the ninth green. He hit a nice shot to about 15 feet, missed his birdie putt, and went on to make par.

Friday, April 12th

We dressed for the cool, crisp morning and shed our long sleeves by 11am. Not a cloud in the sky but windy – and the golfers’ scores showed it.

Jo and I found a spot in the grandstand by the fourth green. Most of the players missed the green or played short to have an easier chip on the 240-yard par three. Not many played it as well as 2023 U.S. Open winner Matt Fitzpatrick. He holed a 20-footer after his birdie chip ran well past the hole.

Watching threesome after threesome make bogey fours, we knew scoring on Friday was going to be high. The 20-mile-per hour gusting winds rattled the field with many players posting scores over par. 

Among those missing the cut – 2015 winner Jordan Spieth and current world number four Windham Clark. You could feel the excitement build going into the final 36 holes.

Saturday, April 13

Day three is often called “moving day at the Masters.” Players at the back of the pack play aggressively in hopes of moving up the leaderboard. Those at the top like co-leaders Scheffler, Homa, and Bryson DeChambeau work to separate themselves from the field – while trying to avoid costly mistakes. 

We sat by the first tee in the bright sunshine to watch last year’s winner Jon Rahm tee off. We didn’t have our own seats; we “borrowed” two of the ubiquitous green chairs you see on TV.

These chairs represent a most cherished Masters tradition. Early in the morning, owners pick a spot where they want to watch later in the day. Often they leave newly purchased shirts and hats by their chairs. It’s like putting them in a bank vault.

Patrons salute 2024 Masters champion Scottie Scheffler on No. 18 green.

No one messes with patron chairs or merch at the Masters. You may sit in unoccupied chairs for as long as you like. You get up when an owner returns, taps your shoulder and says, “excuse me, I’m back.”

Later we moved to the third hole in time to see Rickie Fowler make a six-footer for birdie. Minutes later on the fourth we watched Rory McIlroy hit a high-arcing tee shot just past the hole. His downhill birdie putt broke right to miss the cup. The collective “awwww” reverberated across nearby fairways.

Seeing the Masters live is not the same as watching on TV. You really don’t see very much. Instead you embrace your role as a gallery member. You cheer for birdies. You roar for eagles. And when Tiger Woods walks to a green – no matter his score – you stand and clap in what is a ground-shaking ovation. 

Sunday, April 14

Another spectacular day with sunny skies and, finally, light wind.

Tension hung in the air when we walked in the North Gate. Would Scottie Scheffler keep the lead to win his second Masters? Or would Homa, Collin Morikawa, or rookie Ludvig Aburg break out for an upset win?

We walked the front nine and part of the back. Players finished to polite applause as patrons gathered around the 18th green. We grabbed sandwiches – $1.50 for egg salad, $3 for ham and cheese – and beers from a concession stand and moved toward the ninth green in time to catch the final two groups.

Playing with Homa and at six under par, Aberg curled in a downhill 30-footer for birdie and a tie for the lead with Scheffler. The cheers echoed through the tall pines.

Scottie Scheffler with his Masters Trophy after winning the
2024 Masters.

Minutes later, Scheffler landed his approach shot on the ninth 20 feet past the pin. The ball spun back, rolling directly toward the cup. The gallery roar sounded like a freight train as the ball just missed going in for an eagle two. 

Scheffler tapped in for birdie to take a lead he extended on the back nine to win his second green jacket by four shots.

To some, watching a golf tournament four days in a row may seem like a lot. Not so at the Masters where time slows down.

Someone asked me the other day if we’d do it again. My answer: We’ll be looking for a text next January that says Mike’s ex-wife can’t use her tickets! 

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