It is a dream to play Augusta National — one that will likely never be realized for most of golfing mankind.

I know folks who have played Augusta, the stage for the Masters, which kicks off next week in Georgia. The one local who might have a chance is Tony Finau, but he’s been struggling of late, missing cuts and going 1-2-0 in a recent PGA Tour match-play event.

Duff Tittle, who lives in Orem and has worked in BYU’s athletic department’s sports information office, once played Augusta and he still keeps his card, proudly displaying his scores on Amen Corner and all the famous holes. He used to work for the American Junior Golf Association with headquarters in Atlanta. Of course, he played Augusta.

Reed McArthur, head pro at Sunbrook Golf Course in St. George, poses for a picture while playing Augusta National. He had a bad back that day but was not about to miss the opportunity to play one of the most revered courses in the world. | Courtesy Reed McArthur

Mike Sorensen, a colleague at the Deseret News, got to play Augusta after covering the Masters as a golf writer. He drew out on a lottery of media folks to play a round. Lucky duck.

I know some local golfers, Zac Blair, top amateur Dan Horner, Brian Taylor and Bob Casper who have played there. Casper’s father, the late Hall of Famer Billy Casper, had an in at the exclusive private club as a former champion. “It just goes so fast,” said Casper, “First thing you know you are on No. 10 and wonder where time has gone.”

Reed McArthur, head pro at Sunbrook Golf Course in St. George, witnessed my third ace, which came on his island green on the Woodbridge Course last fall. McArthur got to play Augusta, he said, but the day of the round he threw his back out and could hardly walk. He played the round anyway — because it is Augusta.

The way McArthur told the story, he was in tremendous pain. Every movement took tremendous labor. It was the kind of back situation most humans would ice, put on some heat and look for the nearest bed and TV.  

But Augusta called and he had a tee time.

Just how much would a golfer be willing to sacrifice to play Augusta — an exclusive, almost impossible tee time to obtain for ordinary folks?

One of my close friends, Kyle Whitehead (Pleasant Grove), plays Saturdays with Dave Lamoreaux (Orem), Karl Ford (Lindon), and Tom Urquhart (Orem). They have planned a trip to Pebble Beach to play courses on the Peninsula in May as part of their bucket list. The budget is more than $5,000 each.

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Thing is, Pebble is a public course. Augusta is not. It’s limited to just 300 members and their guests.

What is a golfer willing give up to play Augusta?

A survey of more than 1,000 golfers showed the lengths to which they would go in order to play one round at Augusta National.

Here are some key sacrifices they’d endure:

  • 44% would shave their head.
  • 21% would give up drinking for three years.
  • 17% would get a tattoo that’s visible when clothed.
  • 9% would give up sex for a year.
  • 2% would put their kids up for adoption.

The study showed the average golfer would fork over $1,165 for a round, while those earning over $100K per year would pay a whopping $3,189.

I asked some of my golfing friends what they’d give up or pay to play.

Wes Ruff, KTVX, Channel 4 sportscaster and recipient of the UGA’s Gold Club Award this year, said, “I tried to work it into my contract. Instead of a raise, I said get me on Augusta. Someone in the company must know someone that is a member there. They said they would, but apparently, they didn’t try very hard.”

Randy Dodson, publisher of Fairways Magazine, has played on courses throughout the world, but never Augusta National. “Wouldn’t that be awesome,” said Dodson. “Especially if you had a caddie that has been at the club for decades. Imagine the stories they could tell. Who do I Venmo? I may consider giving up my vinyl record collection.”

Mike Stansfield (Springville), retired publisher and sales executive at Fairways Media, who also has played courses across the globe: “I’ve always dreamed of playing Augusta, so much history and tradition associated with it. Definitely a bucket list dream. I’m in if you ever figure a way to get through the gates and past the guards,” said Stansfield.

“Moneywise, $1,000 to $1,500. I’ve already played Pebble Beach and would spend that money to play St. Andrews. I’d shave my head, grow a beard. Kids are already gone so I can’t sell them. Give up Diet Coke for a year, a real sacrifice.”

Me? 

I don’t think $2K would be out of the question for a round at Augusta and I’d give up Diet Coke for a year, no question. 

I’d also give up two weeks — no more — of playing with my friends. A big sacrifice, indeed.

A flag blows in the wind on the 10th hole during a practice round for the Masters golf tournament Wednesday, April 4, 2018, in Augusta, Ga. | David J. Phillip, Associated Press