Playing Augusta With a Certain SEC Head Football Coach

By Golf Channel NewsroomApril 8, 2008, 4:00 pm
My brother and I were guests at Augusta in March 1993, less than a month before the Masters. We are in the grocery business and one of our clients was responsible for getting us the invitation.
 
We drove up from Jacksonville on a Tuesday morning and went down Magnolia Lane at noon. Our host was a very famous football coach/athletic director at an SEC school. Before I say anything more, let me say there has never been a more gracious host. 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.
 
After a quick lunch, we played 18 from the member tees. Due to a mix-up, we never had a chance to hit one practice shot (Coach had already played 18). I snapped my drive into the left trees, but I turned down the mulligan offer (almost made par).
 
We finished in about 3 hours (caddies, no carts). Coach told us on 18 that he was done for the day, but that we had 'the run of the place'. We decided to play the back nine from the back tees (they are no longer near most of today's back tees). We may have been the only group on the back nine that afternoon. I'll never forget walking down 11 and watching Amen Corner come into view from the middle of the fairway in the late afternoon.
 
We had dinner that night and heard some great stories, especially about a little controversy Fred Couples and the famous par on 12 the year before.
President Bush (41) was in the dining room with the CEO of Arco Petroleum (no surprise there). Then it was back to the California cabin for the night after a tour of the special places.
 
The next morning, we teed off at 8. We played very fast, especially after we told Coach that President Bush had the reputation of playing very quickly.
We stayed well ahead of him and his entourage, which was sizable. We also saw one reason why he played quickly. After dumping two balls into Rae's Creek, he bolted to 13 tee and skipped 12 green.
 
We finished again in about 3 hours, spent a lot of money in the pro shop and left the Club precisely at noon. We played 45 holes in 24 hours. The only thing we missed was the Par 3 course - we saw it, just had no time to play it. One minor regret: Due to a very wet and cold winter, the greens were quite slow. But it was easy to tell that the greens must be unbelievable at full speed.
 
I've been very fortunate to play Pebble Beach, St. Andrews, Shinnecock, several great courses in Ireland and I live across A1A from TPC Sawgrass.
While I don't have a real good memory of how I played at Augusta some 15 years later, I have a very vivid recall of the entire experience. It truly is a special place. Attending the tournament is great. Playing the course and staying overnight is the best experience I have ever had in my 45 plus years of playing golf.
 
- Robert, Jacksonville, FL
 
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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.