Readers tell their stories of playing Augusta National

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 6, 2010, 12:10 am

Last week we asked you to send us your stories about the day you played Augusta National Golf Club. As we read through the entries, one question came to the top of our minds: How can one place spawn story after story, each unique to its teller? That answer is left unknown, and that's fine. We enjoy it that way.
Without further adieu, here is our effort to capture some of the best stories, as told in their entirety by the storytellers themselves:

Trust your caddie
by Chris Hamman
Wichita, Kan.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to play at Augusta National in 1993. My anticipation leading up to that November day was obviously through the roof and expectations were extremely high for this life-long golfer. I just hoped that I could somehow play well enough to frame the scorecard.

To see my name on the list at the front gate, drive up Magnolia Lane, have a caddie in the traditional white jumpsuit take my clubs, and eat lunch inside the clubhouse prior to the round was more than enough to create memories to last a lifetime. I kept asking myself if this day could really be happening!

Next, I was headed to the range to warm up before the round where I met up with my caddie. His name was Roosevelt. I quickly learned that Roosevelt had caddied at Augusta for many, many years and in fact, had caddied in several Masters Tournaments before the golfers were allowed to bring their own caddies.

After somehow hitting a good drive on the first hole (while my heart was jumping out of my chest), Roosevelt and I were talking about the approach shot. I vividly remember that I was 138 yards out (remember, this was from the member tees and pre-lengthening of the course) with a slight wind behind me. The pin was on the far right side of the green and I mentioned to Roosevelt that I was nervous and just wanted to hit a 9-iron to the middle of the green.

“No, sir,' he told me.

“What do you mean,” I responded. “The middle of the green is fine with me.”

“No, sir, you need to stay right of the pin.”

I told Roosevelt that there is no green right of the pin, and he told me, 'I know sir, but if you go left of the pin you're gonna putt the ball off the green.”

Recognizing that Roosevelt must know what he was talking about, I proceeded to hit the shot about 30 feet right of the pin, but 15 feet off the green about pin high. Roosevelt said it was a good shot, but I wasn't so sure.

One of my fellow golfers did hit his second shot to the middle-left side of the green about 40 feet away. Since he was out, he putted before I hit my third shot and he literally putted the ball off the green and almost hit my foot. I looked at Roosevelt and he just smiled revealing what might have been a wooden tooth. On my third shot, I chipped the ball into the hole. I was one under par at Augusta National and I never questioned Roosevelt for the remainder of the round.

He perfectly read the 6-foot putt I had on the last hole to shoot a 79.

Very few things in life exceed your expectations, but this day sure did and yes, the scorecard is framed.

Thanks Roosevelt. It was a true pleasure.

Jumping the fence at Augusta National
by Allen Miller
Silver Creek, N.Y.
5-time Masters participant

Playing in my first Masters in 1969, I was staying in the Crows Nest, an area at the very top of the main clubhouse, partitioned into five or six small bedrooms where the amateur participants were allowed to stay as guests of the club.

Steve Melnyk was also staying there and we were early arrivals so we were the sole residents on this night.

We were friends with the golf professional, Dave Spencer, and he invited us to his house for pizza and a few games of cards. He picked us up at about 6 and we were going to return about 10.

Time flew and suddenly we all realized it was almost 11 p.m.

He was going to return us to the National for the night, the only problem was the main gate closed at 10 and the complex was shut tight.

Dave said he knew what we could do. He had a key for the maintenance area gate that bordered on the par-3 course. Dave drove us there, opened the gate and then drove his car up to the tall hedges that separated the par-3 from the maintenance area.

“Get up on my hood and then jump over the hedge and onto the course, then you can walk to the clubhouse,” he said.

So we did.

As we approached the clubhouse, Steve was well ahead of me, maybe 40 yards. I saw him turn to enter the front entrance ahead of me.

All of a sudden I hear this voice behind me say, “Stop right where you are!”

Startled by the voice, knowing that there were very few people inside the complex, and it was late, I turned around to look at who had demanded that.

There stood a security guard with his gun drawn, looking just like Barney Fife of the Andy Griffith show – right out of Mayberry R.F.D.

“Where are you going,” he asked.

I explained that I was staying up in the Crow’s Nest, had been at the club pro’s house, he had helped us jump the fence and was going to bed.

Clifford Roberts was the Tournament Chairman in those days and he ran the complex with an iron fist. If anyone did something he did not like he would fire then in a second, no questions asked. If he so chose, he could also tell a player that their invitation to playing in the Masters was being taken away. Everyone was on their best behavior around Mr. Roberts.

The guard then said to me, “Do you know what Mr. Roberts would do to you if he found out what you just did?”

Without hesitation, I replied, “Do you know what he would do to you if he found out how far I just got?”

Barney, stunned, just weakly replied, “Goodnight, sir.”

And off I went to bed.

It's good to have an uncle...
by George Purnell
Boynton Beach, Fla.

I was very fortunate to have an uncle who was a member at Augusta National. In 1987 he invited my two identical triplet brothers and I for a 5-day trip two weeks after the Masters. The grounds were in full bloom with azaleas galore. I flew down with my uncle on a Saturday morning before my brothers arrived later in the day and was able to get an early round in that afternoon. I was immediately in awe of the grounds and landscaping and it is so true about the tingling one gets arriving down Magnolia Lane. I played seven rounds and my brothers played six in addition to the par-3 course.

I was playing to about a 12 handicap at the time and I shot 92 and birdied No. 13 with a 20-foot putt. I remember being so excited because of the potential trouble on that hole. I followed with rounds of 89, 83, 88 (from the tips, for fun), 86, 86, 86 and a 31 on the par 3.

We stayed in the Eisenhower cottage and never left the property for five days. Some other memorable thoughts were having unbelievably good caddies who helped you every step of the way, the beautiful wood-paneled men's locker room, the surreal experience of playing on the same grounds where the greatest living golf legends took the same steps, and the delicious dinners in the Champions dining room with the members required to wear their Masters jacket while on property.

We were fortunate to meet Hord Hardin, the President at the time. And how can one forget the Eisenhower Tree, Sarazen Bridge, Hogan's Bridge and, of course, Amen Corner. The best I could do was +1 in 7 rounds on those three treacherous holes that Warren Wind made so famous. Yet, I was able to score a par 72 as a ringer score (best score accumulated on all rounds played). My uncle won out with a 69.

My uncle has died since but my brothers were blessed for five days to have had a truly wonderful golfing experience and we have played in Scotland, Ireland and Pine Valley in addition to many other of Golf Magazine's top 100 courses. Augusta National will always be the most memorable.

Orders from a Brigadier General
by Lou Miles
South Jordan, Utah

In about 1983 I was a Major assigned as the Public Affairs officer at Ft. Gordon, Ga. in Augusta. A Brigadier General reported in as the new deputy commanding general.

The first day he called and said, 'Major, I want to play Augusta National, arrange it and call me when it's done!'

I replied, 'General you just don't arrange to play Augusta National.'

He replied, as Generals often do, 'Major, you obviously didn't hear what I said, arrange it and call me when it's done!'

Now this Brigadier General was one of the writers of my efficiency report so I was really concerned. That evening I saw my neighbor in his yard and told him my dilemma. Long story short, he put me in touch with a local member. The local member kindly agreed to get another member and said we would have two foursomes and I could bring 6 people.

Oh, I did all right.

One Brigadier General, four Colonel's and one lowly Major. I shot 90 and was thrilled! We also had a nice lunch and a tour of the clubhouse, locker rooms and the Eisenhower Cabin. All for $55 and a caddie tip. I'd love to do it again, but in the years since, the two members, senior citizens then, have probably passed away. What a great privilege and a never-to-be-forgotten experience! I was later promoted to LTC and was fortunate to play many wonderful golf courses in the U.S., Belgium, Germany and Italy.

If I could serve again, I would. God Bless our troops and the United States of America!
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Teenager Im wins season opener

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 10:23 pm

South Korea's Sungjae Im cruised to a four-shot victory at The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic, becoming just the second teenager to win an event on the Tour.

Im started the final day of the season-opening event in a share of the lead but still with six holes left in his third round. He was one shot behind Carlos Ortiz when the final round began, but moved ahead of the former Player of the Year thanks to a 7-under 65 in rainy and windy conditions. Im's 13-under total left him four clear of Ortiz and five shots ahead of a quartet of players in third.

Still more than two months shy of his 20th birthday, Im joins Jason Day as the only two teens to win on the developmental circuit. Day was 19 years, 7 months and 26 days old when he captured the 2007 Legend Financial Group Classic.

Recent PGA Tour winners Si Woo Kim and Patrick Cantlay and former NCAA champ Aaron Wise all won their first Tour event at age 20.

Other notable finishes in the event included Max Homa (T-7), Erik Compton (T-13), Curtis Luck (T-13) and Lee McCoy (T-13). The Tour will remain in the Bahamas for another week, with opening round of The Bahamas Great Abaco Classic set to begin Sunday.

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Mickelson grouped with Z. Johnson at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 16, 2018, 8:28 pm

He's not the highest-ranked player in this week's field, but Phil Mickelson will likely draw the biggest crowd at the CareerBuilder Challenge as he makes his first start of 2018. Here are a few early-round, marquee groupings to watch as players battle the three-course rotation in the Californian desert (all times ET):

12:10 p.m. Thursday, 11:40 a.m. Friday, 1:20 p.m. Saturday: Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson

Mickelson is making his fourth straight trip to Palm Springs, having cracked the top 25 each of the last three times. In addition to their respective amateur partners, he'll play the first three rounds alongside a fellow Masters champ in Johnson, who tied for 14th last week in Hawaii and finished third in this event in 2014.

11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Jon Rahm, Bubba Watson

At No. 3 in the world, Rahm is the highest-ranked player teeing it up this week and the Spaniard returns to an event where he finished T-34 last year in his tournament debut. He'll play the first two rounds alongside Watson, who is looking to bounce back from a difficult 2016-17 season and failed to crack the top 50 in two starts in the fall.

11:40 a.m. Thursday, 1:20 p.m. Friday, 12:50 p.m. Saturday: Patrick Reed, Brandt Snedeker

Reed made the first big splash of his career at this event in 2014, shooting three straight rounds of 63 en route to his maiden victory. He'll be joined by Snedeker, whose bid for a Masters bid via the top 50 of the world rankings came up short last month and who hasn't played this event since a missed cut in 2015.

1:10 p.m. Thursday, 12:40 p.m. Friday, 12:10 p.m. Saturday: Patton Kizzire, Bill Haas

Kizzire heads east after a whirlwind Sunday ended with his second win of the season in a six-hole playoff over James Hahn in Honolulu. He'll play alongside Haas, who won this event in both 2010 and 2015 to go with a runner-up finish in 2011 and remains the tournament's all-time leading money winner.

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Mackay still a caddie at heart, even with a microphone

By Doug FergusonJanuary 16, 2018, 7:34 pm

HONOLULU – All it took was one week back on the bag to remind Jim ''Bones'' Mackay what he always loved about being a caddie.

It just wasn't enough for this to be the ultimate mic drop.

Mackay traded in his TV microphone at the Sony Open for the 40-pound bag belonging to Justin Thomas.

It was his first time caddying since he split with Phil Mickelson six months ago. Mackay was only a temporary replacement at Waialae for Jimmy Johnson, a good friend and Thomas' regular caddie who has a nasty case of plantar fasciitis that will keep him in a walking boot for the next month.

''The toughest thing about not caddying is missing the competition, not having a dog in the fight,'' Mackay said before the final round. ''There's nothing more rewarding as a caddie, in general terms, when you say, 'I don't like 6-iron, I like 7,' and being right. I miss that part of it.''

The reward now?

''Not stumbling over my words,'' he said. ''And being better than I was the previous week.''

He has done remarkably well since he started his new job at the British Open last summer, except for that time he momentarily forgot his role. Parts of that famous caddie adage – ''Show up, keep up, shut up'' – apparently can apply to golf analysts on the ground.

During the early hours of the telecast, before Johnny Miller came on, Justin Leonard was in the booth.

''It's my job to report on what I see. It's not my job to ask questions,'' Mackay said. ''I forgot that for a minute.''

Leonard was part of a booth discussion on how a comfortable pairing can help players trying to win a major. That prompted Mackay to ask Leonard if he found it helpful at the 1997 British Open when he was trying to win his first major and was paired with Fred Couples in the final round at Royal Troon.

''What I didn't know is we were going to commercial in six seconds,'' Mackay said. ''I would have no way of knowing that, but I completely hung Justin out to dry. He's now got four seconds to answer my long-winded question.''

During the commercial break, the next voice Mackay heard belonged to Tommy Roy, the executive golf producer at NBC.

''Bones, don't ever do that again.''

It was Roy who recognized the value experienced caddies could bring to a telecast. That's why he invited Mackay and John Wood, the caddie for Matt Kuchar, into the control room at the 2015 Houston Open so they could see how it all worked and how uncomfortable it can be to hear directions coming through an earpiece.

Both worked as on-course reporters at Sea Island that fall.

And when Mickelson and Mackay parted ways after 25 years, Roy scooped up the longtime caddie for TV.

It's common for players to move into broadcasting. Far more unusual is for a caddie to be part of the mix. Mackay loves his new job. Mostly, he loves how it has helped elevate his profession after so many years of caddies being looked upon more unfavorably than they are now.

''I want to be a caddie that's doing TV,'' he said. ''That's what I hope to come across as. The guys think this is good for caddies. And if it's good for caddies, that makes me happy. Because I'm a caddie. I'll always be a caddie.''

Not next week at Torrey Pines, where Mickelson won three times. Not a week later in Phoenix, where Mackay lives. Both events belong to CBS.

And not the Masters.

He hasn't missed Augusta since 1994, when Mickelson broke his leg skiing that winter.

''That killed me,'' he said, ''but not nearly as much as it's going to kill me this year. I'll wake up on Thursday of the Masters and I'll be really grumpy. I'll probably avoid television at all costs until the 10th tee Sunday. And I'll watch. But it will be, within reason, the hardest day of my life.''

There are too many memories, dating to when he was in the gallery right of the 11th green in 1987 when Larry Mize chipped in to beat Greg Norman. He caddied for Mize for two years, and then Scott Simpson in 1992, and Mickelson the rest of the way. He was on the bag for Lefty's three green jackets.

Mackay still doesn't talk much about what led them to part ways, except to say that a player-caddie relationship runs its course.

''If you lose that positive dynamic, there's no point in continuing,'' he said. ''It can be gone in six months or a year or five years. In our case, it took 25 years.''

He says a dozen or so players called when they split up, and the phone call most intriguing was from Roy at NBC.

''I thought I'd caddie until I dropped,'' Mackay said.

He never imagined getting yardages and lining up putts for anyone except the golfer whose bag he was carrying. Now it's for an audience that measures in the millions. Mackay doesn't look at it as a second career. And he won't rule out caddying again.

''It will always be tempting,'' he said. ''I'll always consider myself a caddie. Right now, I'm very lucky and grateful to have the job I do.''

Except for that first week in April.

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The Social: The end was nigh, then it wasn't

By Jason CrookJanuary 16, 2018, 7:00 pm

The star power at the Sony Open may have been overshadowed by a missile scare, but there were plenty of other social media stories that kept the golf world on its toes this week, including some insight on Tiger Woods from a round with President Obama and some failed trick shots.

All that and more in this week's edition of The Social.

By now you've undoubtedly heard about the false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday, where just about everyone, including most Sony Open participants, woke up to an emergency cell phone alert that there was a ballistic missile heading toward the islands.

Hawaiian emergency management officials eventually admitted the original message was mistakenly sent out, but before they did, people (understandably) freaked out.

As the situation unfolded, some Tour pros took to social media to express their confusion and to let the Twittersphere know how they planned on riding out this threat:

While I would've been in that bathtub under the mattress with John Peterson, his wife, baby and in-laws (wait, how big is this tub?), here's how Justin Thomas reacted to the threat of impending doom:

Yeah, you heard that right.

“I was like ‘there’s nothing I can do,'” Thomas said. ”I sat on my couch and opened up the sliding door and watched TV and listened to music. I was like, if it’s my time, it’s my time.”

Hmmm ... can we just go ahead and award him all the 2018 majors right now? Because if Thomas is staring down death in mid-January, you gotta like the kid's chances on the back nine Sunday at Augusta and beyond.

Before the Hawaiian Missile Crisis of 2018, things were going about as well as they could at Waialae Country Club, starting with the Wednesday pro-am.

Jordan Spieth might have been the third-biggest star in his own group, after getting paired with superstar singer/songwriter/actor Nick Jonas and model/actress Kelly Rohrbach.

You'd be hard-pressed to find a more photogenic group out on the course, and the "Baywatch" star has a gorgeous swing as well, which makes sense, considering she was a former collegiate golfer at Georgetown.

As impressive as that group was, they were somehow outshined by an amateur in another group, former NFL coach June Jones.

Jones, who now coaches the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, played his round in bare feet and putted with his 5-iron, a remedy he came up with to battle the yips.

Former NFL and current CFL coach June Jones: A master of 5-iron putting?

A post shared by PGA TOUR (@pgatour) on

Considering he made back-to-back birdies at one point during the day, it's safe to say he's won that battle.

With Tiger Woods' return to the PGA Tour about a week away, that sound you hear is the hype train motoring full speed down the tracks.

First, his ex-girlfriend Lindsey Vonn told Sports Illustrated that she hopes this comeback works out for him.

“I loved him and we’re still friends. Sometimes, I wish he would have listened to me a little more, but he’s very stubborn and he likes to go his own way," the Olympic skiier said. "I hope this latest comeback sticks. I hope he goes back to winning tournaments.”

Vonn also mentioned she thinks Woods is very stubborn and that he didn't listen to her enough. That really shouldn't shock anyone who watched him win the 2008 U.S. Open on one leg. Don't think there were a lot of people in his ear telling him that was a great idea at the time.

We also have this report from Golf Channel Insider Tim Rosaforte, stating that the 14-time major champ recently played a round with former president Barack Obama at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., where he received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.

The Farmers Insurance Open is sure to be must-see TV, but until then, I'm here for all of the rampant speculation and guesses as to how things will go. The more takes the better. Make them extra spicy, please and thanks.

These poor New Orleans Saints fans. Guess the only thing you can do is throw your 65-inch TV off the balcony and get 'em next year.

Here's two more just for good measure.

Farts ... will they ever not be funny?

Perhaps someday, but that day was not early last week, when Tommy Fleetwood let one rip on his European teammates during EurAsia Cup team photos.

Fleetwood went 3-0-0 in the event, helping Europe to a victory over Asia, perhaps by distracting his opponents with the aid of his secret weapon.

Also, how about the diabolical question, "Did you get that?"

Yeah Tommy, we all got that.

Ahhh ... golf trick shot videos. You were fun while you lasted.

But now we’ve officially come to the point in their existence where an unsuccessful attempt is much more entertaining than a properly executed shot, and right on cue, a couple of pros delivered some epic fails.

We start with Sony Open runner-up James Hahn’s preparation for the event, where for some reason he thought he needed to practice a running, jumping, Happy Gilmore-esque shot from the lip of a bunker. It didn’t exactly work out.

Not to be outdone, Ladies European Tour pro Carly Booth attempted the juggling-drive-it-out-of-midair shot made famous by the Bryan Bros, and from the looks of things she might have caught it a little close to the hosel.

PSA to trick-shot artists everywhere: For the sake of the viewing public, if you feel a miss coming on, please make sure the camera is rolling.

Seriously, though, who cares? Definitely not these guys and gals, who took the time to comment, "who cares?" They definitely do not care.