Masters trash is treasure for some
Susie Neel speeds up her walk toward the trash can and peers over her shoulder, hoping no one is watching.
As discreet as one can be in a crowd of thousands at a golf tournament, she reaches for the plastic cup sitting beside the banana peels, candy wrappers and sandwich crusts.
"If it's laying on top and it's clean, it's a pickup," she said. "These cups are worth their weight in gold when it gets about 85 degrees in the summer."
By Friday afternoon, Neel and her husband had collected 30 plastic cups with the Masters logo from trash bins on the course, which they plan to wash and give to friends.
The commemorative plastic cups that come with beers and sodas are as much a part of the Masters Tournament as pimento cheese sandwiches and golf itself, patrons say.
Garbage picking is not ruled out. To some, it's not Dumpster diving when the container is a tidy green garbage bag and the prize is a commemorative Masters cup.
"You just quickly walk by and take a quick graze of the garbage can," Neel said. "We aren't ashamed."
Eric Hall, of Mount Vernon, Wash., said he wouldn't hesitate to reach into the trash for such a great souvenir piece.
His first pick of the day was in a trash bag near the eighth hole.
"I said, 'Hey, I'm pretty close to that one; let me grab it,'" Hall said. "I have a degree in biology, so I understand the risks."
The cups make great gifts for friends and can be used over and over, he said.
It's a sight that friends Jack Morris and Pete Wallace said they have seen most of the 25 years they have attended the Masters Tournament.
They said they see nothing wrong with it, though they've never done it themselves.
"Oh, yeah, they mostly do it after everyone has left and they scan the trash bins," Morris said. "They want to collect the cups, but if they drank that many beers they wouldn't be able to walk."
Not all collectors are as willing to get their hands dirty. Tom Coffey, of Tampa, Fla., had stacked nine Masters cups in his hand by about 1 p.m.
Instead of picking through the garbage, he stocked up by continuing to buy beer.
He planned to take the cups home and use them to serve blended margaritas to his friends, but he had his limits on how far he'd go to get them.
"I'd rather buy a beer and pour that out and keep the cup than go through the garbage," Coffey said. "That's pretty disgusting."
Reach Tracey McManus at (706) 823-3424 email@example.com.