Grueling Week at Augusta

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Editors Note: Mark Rolfing hosts the Golf Channel show Golf Hawaii. For more information about the show or golf in Hawaii log on to www.golfhawaii.com
 
The 2007 Masters will forever be remembered as one of the most grueling tests the players have ever faced in major championship golf. It was an incredibly difficult week one that tested the worlds best golfers both mentally and physically. In the end, Zach Johnson survived putting on his first green jacket while garnering just his second PGA TOUR victory. Zachs win was a product of great shot-making and putting along with incredible patience with Augusta Nationals back nine on Sunday.
 
So just how difficult were the playing conditions at the Masters? There are far too many statistics to recite but consider the third round on Saturday. The scoring average for the field that day was 77.35, more than five strokes over par. It was the highest single day average at the Masters in 50 years. Not a single player in the field broke 70.
 
What were the conditions that lead to these astronomically high scores? I believe there are mainly three:
 
  • Extremely firm and fast conditions particularly on the putting surfaces.
  • Unseasonably cold weather
  • A golf course that had been lengthened and altered with a new set up policy several years back, but had never been played under these conditions
     
    While all of this created a storyline that was dramatic and intriguing, for me there was something missing at the Masters electricity. Year in and year out the excitement generated by brilliant golf and deafening reactions from those in attendance have been a hallmark of the Masters. Who will ever forget, the magical Sunday in 1986 when Jack Nicklaus charged his way into Masters history? With each birdie, the roars that echoed through the Georgia pines that day were so loud the everyone on the course, no matter what hole they were on, knew what Nicklaus was doing. That particular atmosphere - and besides 1986 there have been many, many more - are a big part of the Masters tradition. There was none of that this year at Augusta.
     
    Surely it must have been difficult for the patrons with the frigid temperatures, especially early in the day. Clapping when your hands are freezing and yelling loudly when your teeth are chattering is not an easy thing to do. But I think, more importantly, it was the style of golf being played that shut off the electricity. The type of golf that was played at this years Masters (particularly defensive) is stuff that a U.S. Open is usually made of. But then again that is what the U.S. Open is known for and it creates its own brand of excitement. To me a U.S. Open can be every bit as exciting as the Masters after all its our national championship. But for me this degree of difficulty at Augusta National just doesnt fit.
     
    Zach Johnsons triumph at the 2007 Masters was remarkable and well deserved. I enjoyed watching it. But I felt a little like the lights had gone out at Augusta. I hope this was an aberration not a trend.
     
    THAT'S MY VIEW.
     






    Editors Note: Mark Rolfing, a Maui resident, is one of the leading forces in sports event marketing and production in Hawaii. As NBC Sports award-winning golf commentator, Rolfing continues to cover top golf events such as the prestigious Ryder Cup, The Players Championship and The U.S Open. Rolfing also hosts Golf Hawaii on The Golf Channel. Golf Hawaii, now in its twelfth season is one of the longest running sports shows in the nation.