A Spectators Guide to Augusta National

By David Marr IiiApril 11, 2002, 4:00 pm
As frozen ground thaws, golfers around the country anticipate easing a tee into the ground for the first time this year. Like pitchers and catchers reporting to camp, it is a rite of spring. Professional golf has its version of spring training, the west coast and Florida swings. Golf also has its version of opening day, Masters Week.
With all due respect to The President's Cup, The Crosby (I mean AT&T), Doral and The Players Championship, no truly meaningful shots are hit for almost eight months from August until April. In the past, odd numbered years got some important action during Ryder Cup week, but it's still a long wait until the real season starts in Augusta.
When the gates opened at 8 a.m. Monday morning the most respectful, knowledgeable fans in sports were welcomed back to their hallowed site. During the practice rounds, watching golf at Augusta is a random exercise. Players sometimes play nine holes, then have lunch, or pick up other competitors at the turn. Some go back and play the same side again or spend time on the practice green waiting to join a game. The mood is light and loose; some pictures, some jokes, a few autographs.
Thursday through Sunday is a different story. You need a specific plan of attack if you want to catch as much action as possible. Here's the Marr Technique.
Thursday and Friday allow you the chance to see all of the players in the field. On these days I usually watch on different holes than I do on the weekend. The fourth hole is a treacherous par-3. Watch there and you won't feel so badly about your own game. The fifth hole is a longish par-4. Dow Finsterwald is the rules official whose position is to the left of the green. I always stop by and visit with the man who finished third in a playoff to Arnold Palmer and Gary Player in 1962. On the right side of the green, up a short walkway is a hidden area with sizable concession and merchandise stands complete with picnic tables, yet free of the long lines sometimes found at other locations.
On all competitive days try to steer away from Amen corner, it's a very popular place without a great deal of space.

On the weekend you need to be efficient. Playing in twosomes, the golfers are fast, the golf is meaningful and the gallery is heavy. First, make sure you go with your younger brother. He should be at the gate by 8am with two chairs. When the gates open, he should go to the 18th green and put the chairs on the golfer's left in the front third of the green as close to the ropes as possible. Now you have a seat up front for the Sunday pin placement. Masters patrons are so polite they won't take or move your seats even if you don't show up until the last group is on the 72nd green. When your brother gets back to the hotel, make sure he doesn't wake you. There's still three hours until the first group tees off.
When you get to the course go to the trophy room and look at the names on the huge replica of the clubhouse at Augusta. Grab a couple of egg salad sandwiches next door, and then get a pairing sheet before reaching the first hole.
The crowd under the oak tree behind the clubhouse will have thinned from the practice days. It's time for business. The practice areas are usually packed with spectators so head out to my favorite spot. The sixth tee is on a hill where spectators sit. Players actually hit over a hill full of people, though the terrain shields the gallery from view. At this location you can watch players on the 6th green and wait for play to reach the 16th as well.
The 16th is a great par-3 with some difficult pin positions and a ridge that feeds a ball to the back left pin position on Sunday. Go back to the 18th periodically to visit your chair and neighbors. They are polite enough to leave your seat unmolested; you should be polite enough to become part of that section.
Another location where seats are often available is the grandstand at 13. A lot of action happens on the 13th green and you're very close to 14 tee, but you're out in the sun and locked in to your bleacher seat. If you alternate between 6,16, 13 green and your seat at 18 you'll see a great deal of golf, a good portion of the course, and if you're in your seat at the right time, history will be made about 20 yards in front of you.
The pageantry of the event adds to the feeling even if you can't attend. And the possibilities are limitless. The week begins with a limited field that varies in size with the number of past champions and special invitees. This year only 88 players will have the opportunity to win the Grand Slam. By Saturday, that number will have dwindled to about 50 depending on ties at the cut line. By Monday only one man will have a shot at the Slam. One man will carry with the glorious title of 2002 Masters Champion.
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Vegas helicopters in to Carnoustie, without clubs

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 9:33 am

Jhonattan Vegas did some range work, putted a little and strolled to the first tee for his 5:31 a.m. ET start in the 147th Open Championship.

Everything before that, however, was far from routine.

Vegas' visa to travel to Scotland expired and the process to renew it got delayed - and it looked like his overseas' flight might suffer the same fate. Vegas, upon getting his visa updated, traveled from Houston, Texas to Toronto, Canada to Glasgow, Scotland, and then took a helicopter to Carnoustie.

He arrived in time on Thursday morning, but his clubs did not. Mizuno put together some irons for him and TaylorMade got him his preferred metal woods. He hit the clubs for the first time on the range, less than 90 minutes before his start.

"I'm going to go out there and play with freedom," Vegas told Golf Channel's Todd Lewis.

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How to watch The Open on TV and online

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:40 am

You want to watch the 147th Open? Here’s how you can do it.

Golf Channel and NBC Sports will be televising 182 hours of overall programming from the men's third major of the year at Carnoustie

In addition to the traditional coverage, the two networks will showcase three live alternate feeds: marquee groups, featured holes (our new 3-hole channel) and spotlight action. You can also watch replays of full-day coverage, Thursday-Sunday, in the Golf Channel app, NBC Sports apps, and on GolfChannel.com.  

Here’s the weekly TV schedule, with live stream links in parentheses. You can view all the action on the Golf Channel mobile, as well. Alternate coverage is noted in italics:

(All times Eastern; GC=Golf Channel; NBC=NBC Sports; GC.com=GolfChannel.com or check the GLE app)

Monday, July 16

GC: 7-9AM: Morning Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: 9-11AM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

GC: 7-9PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Tuesday, July 17

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Wednesday, July 18

GC: 6AM-2PM: Live From The Open (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Thursday, July 19

GC: Midnight-1:30AM: Midnight Drive (stream.golfchannel.com)

GC: Day 1: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 1: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Friday, July 20

GC: Day 2: The Open, live coverage: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Spotlight: 1:30AM-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, Marquee Groups: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 2: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 4AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 4-5PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Saturday, July 21

GC: Day 3: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 3: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 3: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-3PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 3-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

Sunday, July 22

GC: Day 4: The Open, live coverage: 4:30-7AM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

NBC: Rd. 4: The Open, live coverage: 7AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/theopen)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Spotlight: 4:30AM-2:30PM (www.golfchannel.com/spotlight)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, Marquee Groups: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/marqueegroup)

GC.com: Day 4: The Open, 3-Hole Channel: 5AM-2PM (www.golfchannel.com/3holechannel)

GC: Live From The Open: 2:30-4PM (www.golfchannel.com/livefromstream)

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The Open 101: A guide to the year's third major

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 19, 2018, 5:30 am

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions about The Open:

What's all this "The Open" stuff? I thought it was the British Open.

What you call it has historically depended on where you were. If you were in the U.S., you called it the British Open, just as Europeans refer to the PGA Championship as the U.S. PGA. Outside the U.S. it generally has been referred to as The Open Championship. The preferred name of the organizers is The Open.

How old is it?

It's the oldest golf championship, dating back to 1860.

Where is it played?

There is a rotation – or "rota" – of courses used. Currently there are 10: Royal Birkdale, Royal St. George's, Royal Liverpool and Royal Lytham and St. Annes, all in England; Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and St. Andrews, Carnoustie, Royal Troon, Turnberry and Muirfield, all in Scotland. Muirfield was removed from the rota in 2016 when members voted against allowing female members, but when the vote was reversed in 2017 it was allowed back in.

Where will it be played this year?

At Carnoustie, which is located on the south-eastern shore of Scotland.

Who has won The Open on that course?

Going back to the first time Carnoustie hosted, in 1931, winners there have been Tommy Armour, Henry Cotton (1937), Ben Hogan (1953), Gary Player (1968), Tom Watson (1975), Paul Lawrie (1999), Padraig Harrington (2007).

Wasn't that the year Hogan nearly won the Slam?

Yep. He had won the Masters and U.S. Open that season, then traveled to Carnoustie and won that as well. It was the only time he ever played The Open. He was unable to play the PGA Championship that season because the dates conflicted with those of The Open.

Jean Van de Velde's name should be on that list, right?

This is true. He had a three-shot lead on the final hole in 1999 and made triple bogey. He lost in a playoff to Lawrie, which also included Justin Leonard.

Who has won this event the most?

Harry Vardon, who was from the Channel Island of Jersey, won a record six times between 1896 and 1914. Australian Peter Thomson, American Watson, Scot James Braid and Englishman J.H. Taylor each won five times.

What about the Morrises?

Tom Sr. won four times between 1861 and 1867. His son, Tom Jr., also won four times, between 1868 and 1872.

Have players from any particular country dominated?

In the early days, Scots won the first 29 Opens – not a shocker since they were all played at one of three Scottish courses, Prestwick, St. Andrews and Musselburgh. In the current era, going back to 1999 (we'll explain why that year in a minute), the scoreboard is United States, nine wins; South Africa, three wins; Ireland, two wins; Northern Ireland, two wins; and Sweden, one win. The only Scot to win in that period was Lawrie, who took advantage of one of the biggest collapses in golf history.

Who is this year's defending champion?

That would be American Jordan Spieth, who survived an adventerous final round to defeat Matt Kuchar by three strokes and earn the third leg of the career Grand Slam.

What is the trophy called?

The claret jug. It's official name is the Golf Champion Trophy, but you rarely hear that used. The claret jug replaced the original Challenge Belt in 1872. The winner of the claret jug gets to keep it for a year, then must return it (each winner gets a replica to keep).

Which Opens have been the most memorable?

Well, there was Palmer in 1961and '62; Van de Velde's collapse in 1999; Hogan's win in 1953; Tiger Woods' eight-shot domination of the 2000 Open at St. Andrews; Watson almost winning at age 59 in 2009; Doug Sanders missing what would have been a winning 3-foot putt at St. Andrews in 1970; Tony Jacklin becoming the first Briton to win the championship in 18 years; and, of course, the Duel in the Sun at Turnberry in 1977, in which Watson and Jack Nicklaus dueled head-to-head over the final 36 holes, Watson winning by shooting 65-65 to Nicklaus' 65-66.

When I watch this tournament on TV, I hear lots of unfamiliar terms, like "gorse" and "whin" and "burn." What do these terms mean?

Gorse is a prickly shrub, which sometimes is referred to as whin. Heather is also a shrub. What the scots call a burn, would also be considered a creek or stream.