Stories of playing Augusta National

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
Last week we asked you to send us your stories about the day you played Augusta National Golf Club. Dozens replied. 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:

Sharing Augusta with the family
“He told me to try and keep a few weeks open come October for ‘a few rounds at Augusta.’ This didn’t really register with me at first. When my mother came back on the phone, I asked her if he meant what I thought he meant.”
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Playing Augusta with a Masters champion
“It was 1995, and my good pal and two-time Champion Bernhard Langer gave me the call that fulfilled a life long dream. I had an invitation to go play Augusta National.”
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Surprise birthday at Augusta
“‘Hey, you with the paper in front of your face. You want to play Augusta?’ That was my clue. I lowered the paper and shouted, ‘Count me in!’ My brother, not knowing I was even in Atlanta, almost fell off his chair. That's how the day started.”
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Breaking down the barrier
“There being no locker room for ladies, my host took me upstairs to the Champions' Locker Room. He asked which locker I wished to use, and without hesitation, I chose Arnold Palmer's locker. What a thrill! With a warm smile, my host suggested that I should tell my women golfing friends of the fine hospitality shown to women at Augusta.”
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From Burger King to Magnolia Lane
“I was not allowed on the grounds until the man I was replacing had left the property. I spent two hours in a Burger King on Washington Road waiting for his departure.”
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Playing Monday after the Masters
“Some of us ‘media’ types that were staying in the same rented house would get to the course before they opened the gates and then race like NASCAR drivers to the media parking area and then sprint to the press building to be first in line.”
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All alone at Amen Corner
“I'd been to the Masters several times but never saw it like it was that evening. I spent about 45 minutes wandering from hole to hole before returning to the cabin to dress for dinner. The only person I saw was a single carrying his own bag.”
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The Alister MacKenzie connection
“It is hard to describe just how fast and tricky those greens are. It’s an Alister MacKenzie design like Pasatiempo so we were used to fast and tricky greens but Augusta’s are exceptional.”
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Once is enough
“I could tell in a second it was Jack Nicklaus and the member who took us out that day starting walking toward him. I followed closely behind and got the opportunity of a lifetime to say hi and shake Jack's hand.”
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Playing Augusta with a certain SEC head football coach
“From the moment we arrived and had lunch until we left 24 hours later, he was absolutely perfect. He made this most special privilege even more memorable. He made sure we saw everything, even the places that perhaps we weren't supposed to see.”
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Masters volunteer
“What is remembered the most is standing on the first tee in front of a gaggle of fellow volunteers, and trying to pull that driver back. It feels like it weighs 100 pounds. If you smooth one down the middle, your year is complete.”
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Right place, wrong outfit
“After one of the rounds, the group retired to their cabins to freshen up and later gather together at the dining room. Knowing only coats and ties were required, he asked his host if a blue and white pinstripe outfit was OK. ‘Sounds OK with me,’ he was told.”
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Tragedy denies Augusta trip
“How often does someone forfeit his chance to play Augusta National and lose his mother on the same day? However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel here.”
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Best Augusta story from a pastor
“The caddy, Bull, said, ‘Let it die right here,’ and pointed to a spot 10 feet left and 20 feet above the hole. Amazingly I did, and watched with disbelief as the ball picked up speed and turned toward the hole. All the time Bull was commanding the ball, ‘Slide for me now, slide for me now.’ It obeyed and my 60 foot putt disappeared into the cup.”
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'Am I dreaming?'
“Strangely, I never felt any disappointment with any golf shot. I simply kept playing with no idea how I was doing. Time seemed to stand still. I felt as if I was literally floating down the fairways. I knew at some point that this round had to end and I really didn’t want that to happen.”
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Playing Augusta with Mr. Palmer’s caddie
“We had a little match and while playing #13 I hit a big drive and was fixing to go for the green. I told Iron Man, ‘Can’t you hear the crowd saying, ‘He’s going for it’?’ He said laughing, ‘Boss, aint nobody here.’”
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Playing Augusta with brothers
“We really took in the tradition, read all the plaques, walked across the bridges very slowly and tried to feel what it was like when people like, Sarazen, Hogan, Nelson, Palmer, and Nicklaus and the like traveled the same steps as we took.”
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Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''


Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship


First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

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The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

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Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

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Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”


Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.