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Savannah badge holder returns to Masters after pandemic crowd limits lifted

Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 4:09 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - When Masters tournament rounds begin, a whole new group of patrons arrive at Augusta National. The annual badge holders, who have access Thursday through Sunday.

And for some, like Savannah’s John Mesaros, who did not receive his badges the last two years because of COVID crowd restrictions, this week is sort of a homecoming,

After two long, odd and disappointing years, Mesaros was back home Thursday.

“It’s nice, really good to be back. I enjoy the days up here, the weather’s just great,” he said.

Mesaros has been a Masters badge holder for two decades, but was not able to attend the tournament the last two years because of crowd restrictions. And with patrons returning in full in 2022, Mesaros drove up from Savannah and right back into his personal Masters customs.

“Usually come in the back gate, set up on 13, go for a walk, get something to eat, go check out some stuff on the front of the course and make our way back and sit on the par 5 13th for the rest of the day and see who decides to go for it and who decides to lay up.”

Mesaros usually attends the tournament two days himself with Savannah friends like Joey Ferraro who was with him yesterday and shares his badges with other friends and family when he’s not coming. And requests for an invite were up the last few months.

“Amazingly yes. I had a lot of old friends checking in this year.”

And he’ll be back up probably twice more this week, soaking in everything there is to love about this place that he has missed in recent years.

“The people. The atmosphere. And just the general environment. It’s just a great place to spend a day.”

Especially after too many days away.

Mesaros is rather unique among Masters badge holders because he never actually applied for his. He was applying for practice round tickets in the late 1990s when Augusta National held a one-time lottery for new badges and his name was pulled. That was in 2001 and he has been coming ever since. And that’s about as lucky as you get at the Masters.

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