Hottest Masters souvenir of 2024? The garden gnome, once again

It's just a tiny garden gnome, but it's almost as tough to get at Augusta National as a green jacket

AUGUSTA, Ga. — The toughest item to obtain at Augusta National Golf Club is a green jacket. The second-toughest might just be a 2-foot-tall garden gnome.

If you thought getting a badge to get onto the grounds at the Masters was difficult, just try to find a gnome once you’re inside. They’re the hottest souvenir at the Masters — more than golf shirts, more than coffee mugs, more than pimento cheese sandwiches.

The cheerful little white-bearded fellow, who debuted in 2016, is now the inspiration for offshoots like Christmas ornaments and T-shirts. Augusta National could dress an off-duty Santa like a gnome and adults of all ages would wait in line to sit on his lap for a photo.

Dressed in a white Augusta National bucket hat, natty blue cardigan and blue-and-green plaid pants, the 2024 version received the full social media rollout treatment March 22:

The merchandise shop opens to patrons at 7 a.m., and many of the thousands of each day’s attendees line up well before dawn. The result: queues pile up outside the golf shop, and the day’s allotment of gnomes can be gone in minutes.

When patrons get their hands on a precious gnome, some carry him with them all day long. Some check him at Augusta National’s bag check. And some head straight back to their cars to reunite with their cell phones and get that gnome up on eBay as soon as possible. A 2016 gnome will set you back $6,999. This year’s model is averaging around $300, with the mini version and the ornament coming in somewhat lower. It’s a solid return on investment for a little statue that costs around $50.

Chris Hipps of Knoxville waited in line for about 35 minutes to snag a mini-gnome. Asked if he’d keep it or sell it for a tidy profit, he smiled. “I got two, so … we’ll see,” he said.

“We definitely wanted to get one of these [gnomes],” said first-time Masters visitor Andrew Steverson of Douglas, Georgia. “This is a lifetime goal, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” He was talking about the entire Augusta National experience, but he might as well have been talking about snagging a gnome, too.