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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Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.

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Rose: T-2 finish renewed my love of The Open

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 9:00 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Justin Rose made the cut on the number at The Open and was out for an early Saturday morning stroll at Carnoustie when, all of a sudden, he started putting together one great shot after another.

There was no pressure. No one had expected anything from someone so far off the lead. Yet Rose shot 30 on the final nine holes to turn in 7-under 64, the lowest round of the championship. By day’s end he was five shots behind a trio of leaders that included Jordan Spieth.

Rose followed the 64 with a Sunday 69 to tie for second place, two shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. His 133 total over the weekend was the lowest by a shot, and for a moment he thought he had a chance to hoist the claret jug, until Molinari put on a ball-striking clinic down the stretch with birdies on 14 and 18.


Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


“I just think having made the cut number, it’s a great effort to be relevant on the leaderboard on Sunday,” said Rose, who collected his third-career runner-up in a major. He’s also finished 12th or better in all three majors this year.

In the final round, Rose was well off the pace until his second shot on the par-5 14th hole hit the pin. He had a tap-in eagle to move to 5 under. Birdie at the last moved him to 6 under and made him the clubhouse leader for a few moments.

“It just proves to me that I can play well in this tournament, that I can win The Open,” Rose said. “When I’m in the hunt, I enjoy it. I play my best golf. I don’t back away.

“That was a real positive for me, and it renewed the love of The Open for me.”