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!
Getty Images

Lexi looks to shine as LPGA season begins next week

By Randall MellJanuary 17, 2018, 6:06 pm

Lexi Thompson may be No. 4 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, but in so many ways she became the new face of the women’s game last year.

That makes her the headliner in a fairly star-studded season opener at the Pure Silk Bahamas Classic next week.

Three of the top four players in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings are scheduled to tee it up on Paradise Island, including world No. 1 Shanshan Feng and co-Rolex Player of the Year So Yeon Ryu.

From the heartache at year’s start with the controversial loss at the ANA Inspiration, through the angst in the middle of the year with her mother’s cancer diagnosis, to the stunning disappointment at year’s end, Thompson emerged as the story of the year because of all she achieved in spite of those ordeals.

Next week’s event will mark the first time Thompson tees it up in an LPGA tournament since her season ended in stunning fashion last November with a missed 2-foot putt that cost her a chance to win the CME Group Tour Championship and the Rolex Player of the Year Award, and become the world No. 1.

She still walked away with the CME Globe’s $1 million jackpot and the Vare Trophy for the season’s low scoring average.

She also walked away sounding determined to show she will bounce back from that last disappointment the same way she bounced back from her gut-wrenching loss at the year’s first major, the ANA, where a four-shot Sunday penalty cost her a chance to win her second major.

“Just going through what I have this whole year, and seeing how strong I am, and how I got through it all and still won two tournaments, got six seconds ... it didn’t stop me,” Thompson said leaving the CME Group Tour Championship. “This won’t either.”

Thompson was named the Golf Writers Association of America’s Player of the Year in a vote of GWAA membership. Ryu and Sung Hyun Park won the tour’s points-based Rolex Player of the Year Award.

With those two victories and six second-place finishes, three of those coming after playoff losses, Thompson was close to fashioning a spectacular year in 2017, to dominating the tour.

The new season opens with Thompson the center of attention again. Consistently one of the tour’s best ball strikers and longest hitters, she enjoyed her best year on tour last season by making dramatic improvements in her wedge play, short game and, most notably, her putting.

She doesn’t have a swing coach. She fashioned a better all-around game on her own, or under the watchful eye of her father, Scott. All the work she put in showed up in her winning the Vare Trophy.

The Pure Silk Bahamas Classic will also feature defending champion Brittany Lincicome, as well as Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, I.K. Kim, Danielle Kang and Charley Hull.

Getty Images

One & Done: 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 5:55 pm

Beginning in 2018, Golf Channel is offering a "One & Done" fantasy game alternative. Choose a golfer and add the salary they earn at the event to your season-long total - but know that once chosen, a player cannot be used again for the rest of the year.

Log on to to start your own league and make picks for this week's event.

Here are some players to consider for One & Done picks this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge, where Hudson Swafford returns as the defending champion:

Zach Johnson. The two-time major champ has missed the cut here three years in a row. So why include him in One & Done consideration? Because the three years before that (2012-14) included three top-25s highlighted by a third-place finish, and his T-14 at the Sony Open last week was his fifth straight top-25 dating back to September.

Bud Cauley. Cauley has yet to win on Tour, but that could very well change this year - even this week. Cauley ended up only two shots behind Swafford last year and tied for 14th the year prior, as four of his five career appearances have netted at least a top-40 finish. He opened the new season with a T-7 in Napa and closed out the fall with a T-8 at Sea Island.

Adam Hadwin. Swafford left last year with the trophy, but it looked for much of the weekend like it would be Hadwin's tournament as he finished second despite shooting a 59 in the third round. Hadwin was also T-6 at this event in 2016 and now with a win under his belt last March he returns with some unfinished business.

Charles Howell III. If you didn't use him last week at the Sony Open, this could be another good spot for the veteran who has four top-15 finishes over the last seven years at this event, highlighted by a playoff loss in 2013. His T-32 finish last week in Honolulu, while not spectacular, did include four sub-70 scores.

David Lingmerth. Lingmerth was in that 2013 playoff with Howell (eventually won by Brian Gay), and he also lost here in overtimei to Jason Dufner in 2016. The Swede also cracked the top 25 here in 2015 and is making his first start since his wife, Megan, gave birth to the couple's first child in December. Beware the sleep-deprived golfer.

Getty Images

DJ: Kapalua win means nothing for Abu Dhabi

By Associated PressJanuary 17, 2018, 2:55 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Dustin Johnson's recent victory in Hawaii doesn't mean much when it comes to this week's tournament.

The top-ranked American will play at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship for the second straight year. But this time he is coming off a victory at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, which he won by eight shots.

''That was two weeks ago. So it really doesn't matter what I did there,'' said Johnson, who finished runner-up to Tommy Fleetwood in Abu Dhabi last year. ''This is a completely new week and everybody starts at even par and so I've got to start over again.''

In 2017, the long-hitting Johnson put himself in contention despite only making one eagle and no birdies on the four par-5s over the first three rounds.

''The par 5s here, they are not real easy because they are fairly long, but dependent on the wind, I can reach them if I hit good tee balls,'' the 2016 U.S. Open champion said. ''Obviously, I'd like to play them a little better this year.''

The tournament will see the return of Paul Casey as a full member of the European Tour after being away for three years.

''It's really cool to be back. What do they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder? Quite cheesy, but no, really, really cool,'' said the 40-year-old Englishman, who is now ranked 14th in the world. ''When I was back at the Open Championship at Birkdale, just the reception there, playing in front of a home crowd, I knew this is something I just miss.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship starts Thursday and also features former No. 1 Rory McIlroy, who is making a comeback after more than three months off.

Getty Images

Kuchar joins European Tour as affiliate member

By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 2:52 pm

Months after he nearly captured the claret jug, Matt Kuchar has made plans to play a bit more golf in Europe in 2018.

Kuchar is in the field this week at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told reporters in advance of the opening round that he has opted to join the European Tour as an affiliate member:

As an affiliate member, Kuchar will not have a required minimum number of starts to make. It's the same membership status claimed last year by Kevin Na and Jon Rahm, the latter of whom then became a full member and won two European Tour events in 2017.

Kuchar made six European Tour starts last year, including his runner-up performance at The Open. He finished T-4 at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in his lone European Tour start that wasn't co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour.