A new addition to the Augusta scene this year is the "Natty Shack," where Smylie Kaufman is expected to make appearances with fans. (Courtesy of Natural Light) Champions Retreat has partnered with a luxury helicopter service. (Courtesy of Evolux) Laid out near the Savannah River, Champions Retreat is an Augusta-worthy experience. (Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor) A Masters ticket is hard to get but not impossible, especially if you're willing to pay a price. (Mike Bailey/Golf Advisor)

From the 'Natty Shack' to helicopter rides, attend the Masters in style (or not so much)

There are all kinds of things to do in Augusta during the Masters (John Daly, as has become an Augusta tradition, will be selling merch in the Augusta Hooters parking lot all week).

But here's something new: Taking place April 7-8 in Augusta right outside the Augusta National gates, the "Natty Shack" is targeting millennials who are in town for the first major of the year.

Sponsored by Natural Light beer, there will be plenty of that, of course, along with television viewing areas, music, games, food and appearances by PGA Tour player Smylie Kaufman. The event is for golf fans ages 21-27. If you recall last year's Masters, Smylie had a storybook three rounds in his first Masters and was in the final group on Sunday with Jordan Spieth. But a final-round 81 put him out of contention and into T-29, out of the automatic qualifying for 2017.

Natural Light signed the affable 25-year-old professional golfer last year to help attract a more youthful market segment. Kaufman, who has one win on the PGA Tour (2015 Shriners Hospital for Children Open), won't be playing in this year's Masters so he will be available to hang out with fans.

"Smylie," by the way, isn't Kaufman's first name. It's actually his middle name, and "Carter" is his first name. He got his middle name in honor of his grandmother's cousin, the late Smylie Gebhart an All-American defensive end for Georgia Tech in 1971. The 2014 LSU grad also has a brother named "Lucky."

The event will be sun-up to sundown on Thursday and Friday, but space is limited, so you have to sign up. The address of the Natty Shack is 2806 Washington Road. Email NattyShack@ZenoGroup.com to rsvp.

Doing the Masters in style

If money was no object, this is how I might do the Masters: Take a helicopter ride to a really nice resort, play a round or two of golf and ride in a limousine each day at Augusta National.

Well, that's exactly those going to Champions Retreat for a golf package can do. The luxury getaway has partnered with a luxury helicopter service. It's a ride-share platform called Evolux (ride share helps you split expenses because helicopters are expense to charter) that will take you from various locations to Champions Retreat, a luxurious golf community with three spectacular nines designed by Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

Packages include helicopter transfer to Champions Retreat, accommodations, private car transfer to the tournament, golf and culinary, all entirely customizable. Helicopter transport is currently available from Atlanta and Charlotte, as well as Greenville, S.C., but you can inquire about rides from other markets, too. Prices vary, but needless to say, it isn't be cheap. Go to championsretreat.net/lifttothelinks for more information.

You can still get tickets, but it will cost plenty

A quick look on Stubhub.com right before the 2017 Masters reveals you can still get tickets to the Masters, but to no surprise, they're expensive. I mean, Super Bowl tickets-like expensive.

Weekly badges (good Monday through Sunday) start out around $13,000 each, while Thursday through Sunday competition badges begin at $6,500.

The cheapest ticket to get is the Monday practice round, but even that is $510. Wednesday practice round tickets, which include the par-3 contest, are listed at $1,550 and up.

I still say your best bet if you don't have tickets yet and you just want to take in a practice round is to show up in Augusta and buy them off a scalper outside the gates, especially if the weather is a little iffy.

Mar 31, 2017

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Mike Bailey

Senior Staff Writer

Mike Bailey is a senior staff writer based in the Houston area. Focusing primarily on golf in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America, he contributes course reviews, travel stories and features as well as the occasional equipment review. An award-winning writer and past president of Texas Golf Writers Association, he has more than 20 years in the golf industry. Before accepting his current position in 2008, he was on staff at PGA Magazine, The Golfweek Group and AvidGolfer Magazine. Follow Mike on Twitter at @Accidentlgolfer.