Smithsonian goes inside the Masters

The Augusta National caught the eye of the Smithsonian.

During the final round of this year's Masters Tournament, Smithsonian Journeys, the travel branch of the famous institute, will bring 37 patrons to Augusta.

The travel package features badges to the tournament's final day and an opportunity to catch up on the long history leading up to this year's jacket ceremony.

"We are always thinking about how a program will be interesting," said Patrick Wagner, senior program manager for United States and Canada Smithsonian Journeys. "We were looking for a way we could talk about golf history and design, and combine it with something that will be fairly exclusive. For us, that really meant coming to the Masters."

The Smithsonian education model includes access to a private pavilion opposite Augusta National and lodging and golf at the Ritz-Carlton Lodge at Reynolds Plantation. The price for the four-day excursion is about $6,000.

Mr. Wagner said that like all Smithsonian Journey excursions, the trip is planned with an education element. Golf course architect Mike Hurdzan will lecture on golf history, design and Augusta National. But Mr. Wagner admitted that the appeal wasn't in the education, but the experience.

"The Masters is the Masters, and people want to come because we do have the golden ticket," he said with a laugh.

Smithsonian was able to secure 37 slots through Horizon Travel, a high-end tour organizer based in Toronto. Mr. Wagner said Horizon had the basics -- badges, lodging, pavilion access -- in place, leaving only the educational aspects to fill in.

Glenn Greenspan, Augusta National's director of communication, said the club had no official comment on the Smithsonian package.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.

THE PACKAGE

WHAT'S INCLUDED: One ticket to the final round, access to a private pavilion, police escort to the course, two nights at Reynolds Plantation, two rounds of golf at Reynolds Plantation, transportation and discussions with Mike Hurdzan.

PRICE: $5,495 double occupancy; $5,925 single occupancy.