An Insider’s Guide to XOJET’s Masters Experience at Augusta National
Year after year, season after season, early April lays claim to one of the most mesmerizing occasions in all of sports. Frozen in time amid golf’s most seminal moments, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience where the beautiful game converges on its most beautiful setting: Augusta National Golf Club.
When The Masters returns for the 82nd time on April 11th, 2019, XOJET members can witness its colorful ritual in full bloom (much like the property’s signature azaleas emerging for spring). Thanks to an exclusive package with our partners at Butterfield & Robinson, this is your opportunity to access The Masters with a curated, one-of-a-kind experience.
With offerings including two nights at the Sheraton Augusta plus daily transfer and entry to the tournament on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, The Masters Experience provides an all-inclusive, guided getaway centered around the legendary event. As part of the experience, guests enjoy VIP hospitality service, a personal Masters chair to plant along the course, and seamless arrival and departure with XOJET, complete with a healthy dose of gracious Southern charm.
To make the most of this package, XOJET spoke with Butterfield & Robinson travel expert Jonathan Lansdell to curate an insider’s guide for your stay in Augusta.
What to Know
Photo: Torrey Wiley via Flickr / CC BY
When stepping onto its hallowed grounds for the first time, you may notice that Augusta National feels like a world away. All but locked in a bygone era and largely impervious to the technological advancements around it, the club has retained a strict policy for keeping cell phones, cameras, and televisions safely on its outskirts.
“No one’s texting, no one’s taking selfies or posting things to Instagram,” Lansdell says. “Everybody is engaged and in the moment. It’s like stepping back in time to the ‘40s and ‘50s, and it is quite magical.”
Unlike the mercurial conditions of other prestigious golfing events, springtime weather in Georgia has proven to be historically genial during The Masters, so guests can expect to pack light. Because the rambling Augusta National property is replete will rolling hills, however, Lansdell recommends bringing a comfortable pair of walking shoes to accommodate full days of navigating the course’s diverse topography.
“You don’t need to bring much or worry about anything,” Lansdell says. “It’s a simple, relaxed weekend.”
After guests embark from the hotel toward The Masters during each day of their stay in Augusta, they will be escorted to a private VIP hospitality house just outside the club where they can leave their digital devices before receiving their badge and personal chair. From there, it’s just a five-minute walk to the grounds to mingle with golf’s most dedicated fans in watching the world’s greatest players compete for the coveted green jacket.
Because each patron is granted three in-and-out privileges per day, they can return to the hospitality house at their leisure to take breaks and indulge in various VIP amenities including barbecue-dotted patios and exquisite food and bar options, as well as a massage station.
“With all the hospitality on tap, it’s really a place to have a rest, recuperate, and sit down to catch up on some of the news, because you haven’t got the big screens on the grounds,” explains Lansdell, “and then you can get back to the action.”
Guests of Augusta National who find themselves too enthralled to leave can also opt for drink and food options on the course, including the resort’s iconic pimento cheese sandwich, which some affectionately refer to as the “caviar of the South.”
In a place so steeped in legend and lore, Lansdell points out that package participants will have access to a Butterfield & Robinson guide and a local host to help purvey the history and significance of the club and its time-honored traditions.
“Having it explained to you certainly adds to the experience,” he says. “It’s a long, epic, emotional day with a lot of food, excitement, and sunshine.”
Where to Place Your Chair
Photo: Butterfield & Robinson
Besides following the crowd’s ripple of applause, deciding where to be during The Masters (and when to be there) is a topic that Lansdell says has been the focus of entire books written over the years. He is, however, happy to shed a little light on some of his favorite spots.
In homage to its roots as a plant nursery before the course was established in 1933, each hole of Augusta National is aptly named after a tree or shrub that grows, or once grew, in its consecrated soil. Visitors who are interested in seeing the property’s most recent renovations and how they may affect the play of favored golfers should make time for the fifth hole—otherwise known as “Magnolia”—a challenging par 4 which was extended from 455 to 495 yards in 2018.
Moving to the illustrious back nine, where the world’s finest golfers tend to pull out all the stops, guests will find Amen Corner. Comprising the 11th, 12th, and 13th holes and threaded by the gentle chuckle of Rae’s Creek, it’s often regarded as the most distinguished stretch in golf, and certainly one of the most dramatic (think Jordan Spieth in 2016).
As the scene of natural splendor begins to develop upon approaching the tee box of the 12th hole (named for the Golden Bell tree rising from the back of the green), guests may begin to realize why fervent acolytes of Augusta National have deemed it “The Cathedral in the Pines.” Here, where spokes of sunlight filter between the swaying trees, onlookers can catch their first glimpse of water on the course—and its seemingly supernatural magnetism for collecting errant shots.
Up next is hole 13, “Azalea,” which is hemmed by vibrant flowers from tee to green. A classic example of risk and reward, it’s praised as golf’s ultimate par 5. Lastly, Lansdell would be remiss not to mention the eminent 18th hole. As the climacteric stage of the tournament, it’s perhaps the most sought-after setting for spectators, and he therefore recommends planning an early morning arrival to secure a suitable vantage point.
“The idea is to plant your chair, which has your name on it, and then you’re free to wander,” he says. “It’s one of those unwritten rules that nobody will touch your chair—so it’s your spot but it doesn’t mean you’re going to spend the whole day there.”
Completing Your Experience
Photo: Butterfield & Robinson
While many patrons will choose to stay on the premises for two full days of golf tournament action, Lansdell predicts that some may opt for a day-and-a-half in order to make time for a round of their own. In the immediate vicinity of Augusta National, visitors can find renowned courses aplenty—such as Forest Hills and The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds—to deploy their personal handicaps.
When guests have had their fill of excitement on and off the course, an extraordinary golf getaway is bookended with an easeful XOJET departure for a seamless transfer home. Your Aviation Advisor will ensure your return route is synced with the ideal jet—Citation X, Challenger 300, or any jet within our Preferred Partner Network—to satisfy your group size and to easily accommodate golf bags and other luggage.
“It’s one of those events where you have to pinch yourself when you look around you,” Lansdell says. “You remember it year after year after year. It’s special, and it stays with you.”
Players to Watch
Based on current form and previous history at Augusta, certain players stand a higher chance of sporting the green jacket come Sunday afternoon. According to Butterfield & Robinson’s most dedicated golf experts, here are a few to keep an eye on:
Following an impressive comeback from back surgery last year, superstar Tiger Woods is again a tournament favorite. With 14 major championships under his belt (including four victories at The Masters), fans and critics alike believe it’s only a matter of time before he wins another.
In 2015, at the age of 22, Jordan Spieth became the second youngest golfer (behind Woods) to win The Masters. Despite a disappointing season in 2018, his fondness for Augusta suggests he’ll almost certainly be in the hunt on final-round Sunday.
Brooks Koepka, the 2018 PGA Player of the Year, defending PGA Championship winner, and two-time defending U.S. Open champion, has the game and confidence to earn a green jacket of his own.
After his meteoric rise over the past two years, young American Justin Thomas is not only shaking up the PGA—he’s also considered a top contender to win this edition of The Masters.
Coming off a 2018 FedEx Cup win, Justin Rose has twice (2015 and 2017) been the runner-up at The Masters. Don’t bet against him living up to his current ranking as the number one player in the world.
One of the longest drivers in the PGA, former U.S. Open winner Dustin Johnson has strung together a number of good years in a row, and many expect him to continue his hot streak this season.
After a strong showing in 2018, Canadian Adam Hadwin began 2019 with a second-place finish at the Desert Classic, and could be a dark horse pick at Augusta.
Featured Photo: Butterfield & Robinson