STYLE

Bon appetit: Augusta National offers possibly best value meals of any major sporting event

04/10/2015 01:29 EDT | Updated 06/11/2015 06:59 EDT
AUGUSTA, Ga. - The sandwich boards around Augusta National listing breakfast and lunch options look ridden with typos, or like signs left over from the 1950s.

Sure, the parking is free at the Masters. Grabbing a bite to eat simply can't be that cheap.

Think again.

Mark King of Atlanta had to do a double-take when paying his lunch for two, he wanted to make sure he was being charged the correct amount.

A hot dog and a beer at any big sporting events can easily gobble up most — if not all — of a $20 bill. Not here.

At Augusta National, where a family of three can have lunch for $21 with five sandwiches, three bags of chips and three drinks.

It's possibly the best value meal deal in sports.

"You think it should be a lot more,' King said.

The Masters features possibly the best value meal deal in all of sports with a menu with a distinctive Southern flavour, featuring the famous pimento cheese sandwich or a tasty egg salad sandwich at $1.50. And don't sleep on the barbecue sandwich or classic chicken, they are served up at a very affordable $3 — and they're the most costly items on the menu.

"It's like Southern hospitality," Erica King said.

Just getting into the Masters certainly is pricey enough with the four-day tournament badge going for $325 at face value, and it's one of the toughest tickets to get. Augusta National also does a robust business in their golf shops scattered around the course as well — a stop there can take a bite out of your wallet.

But there are no money woes when it comes to grabbing a meal.

Friends alerted Tom Sudberry of San Diego to expect a great deal on lunch on his first trip to the Masters. Paying only $5 for a pimento cheese sandwich, a soda and a bottle of water left him a bit speechless.

"I knew it was going to be inexpensive," Sudberry said. "It's still shocking to see it. Being from Texas and from the South, I hadn't had a pimento and cheese sandwich in about 50 years, so that was the first thing I had. A $1.50 pimento and cheese sandwich."

He also had plenty of company once he sat down at the concession stand near the clubhouse.

Sudberry's friends split off to visit the golf shop and find another friend, so he got to talk with three different groups of men who sat down at the open seats while he finished his lunch. By the time he finished, his company included Augusta native Bump Faircloth and Anthony Boggess of Alachua, Florida.

"Everybody's friendly," Sudberry said.

Officials do not share the number of people who come through the gates every day at Augusta National, preferring to say it's the right amount. It's enough to keep the concession stands busy, though only eight sandwich choices makes deciding what to eat easier. Faircloth has been coming to the Masters for 25 years, and marvels at what you get for so little money.

"The thing I've been impressed with all these years is the quality of the product," Faircloth said. "As much as they serve, never had a bad sandwich or a meal here. Ever."

Barbara Merklen of Southbury, Connecticut, worried she faced a lengthy wait at the concession stand between the eighth and 18th fairways. Grabbing her chicken sandwich and a beer took only minutes.

"It's shocking actually, and their whole system that they have is amazing because the line is huge, but the way they have it set up you go through very easily," she said.

Robert and Caroline Johnston of Augusta take eating at the Masters to a different level. When they head home midday Sunday, they will stop and load up on sandwiches to take with them and munch on while watching the leaders finish on the back nine. Nothing goes to waste.

"We can eat them the next day," she said. "They don't get soggy."

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

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