I really never thought I would ever go to the Masters. I have been to Open Championships, Ryder Cups, Presidents Cups and Tour events all over the world but the Masters just seemed like the impossible ticket until I got the chance to go with Augusta Golf Tours – a British company who have run tours to the Masters for 26 years.
Like you perhaps, I thought it could not be done, but Augusta Golf Tours have found a way to make the dream possible. Read more about a typical week at the Masters……http://www.augustagolftours.co.uk/typical-week.php
Augusta National – so what’s it like?
So, what is Augusta National like? Well, the Masters is a great tournament but the course is certainly the star of the show. It is so interesting to see the layout and how all the holes flow especially if, like me, you love golf courses and are fascinated by the different designs.
The undulations at Augusta National are amazingly severe – it is a very hilly site with the clubhouse overlooking the 10th, 18th , 9th and 1st holes. The tenth is quite remarkable – you have to just miss Rory’s tree and then snap hook the ball to find the middle of the fairway some 100 feet below the tee. It has evolved rather than having been designed that way and is actually quite different to the original hole. Originally, the green was sited to the right of the fairway bunker 90 yards short of where the green is now. It was moved because of drainage problems but changed the strategy entirely – in those days you had to drive down the right hand side. These days if you drive down the right hand side, you need some luck and some Bubba Watson skill!
Many of the holes are familiar to us from TV and photographs but there is nothing quite like see it for yourself. Somehow Augusta National lives up to the hype and visitors are never disappointed.
Alister MacKenzie – course architect
Bobby Jones and the Augusta National committee engaged the brilliant Alister MacKenzie to lay out the course in the early 1930s.
MacKenzie had a unique philosophy which he explained in his classic book, the Spirit of St Andrews. It is a must read for anyone interested golf and shows how far ahead of his time MacKenzie was.
He was utterly against long rough, searching for balls and immediate ‘’punishment’’ for errant shots. He preferred giving golfers a chance to recover so he built strategic courses where the fairways were wide but there was always an optimal side that opened up the angle to the green. His greens always featured huge undulations so that the player with the advantage still had to concentrate to secure his score and he loved risk & reward holes where a player had to make a difficult decision. He tried to make the holes appear more difficult than they actually were and knew that golfers could resist everything except temptation!
You see all these features at Augusta which makes it not just the most beautiful place to watch great golf but also a great opportunity to see and learn about classic course architecture.
Hardest hole on the course (or in the world if you need a four to win) must be the 18th. The drive is through a very narrow chute of trees and the hole plays steeply uphill to a tiny green – trust me, it is much smaller than it looks on TV!
My favourite is the unheralded 3rd hole, a short par four. The second shot is a very awkward wedge that must carry a huge bank at the front of a shallow green. If the approach is short or spins too much it goes down the 15ft bank and too long leaves an impossible downhill chip. It is more awkward for the Masters field than a 200 yard iron shot and a great place from which to watch.
There are so many good vantage points on the course but it is not difficult to see if you walk with a group. I have twice now walked with the last group on the last nine holes and seen every shot.
You can’t help but talk of the Masters without thinking of all the great moments down the years. From Sandy Lyle out of the bunker on 18, to Tiger’s impossible chip-in at the Par 3 16th to Jack Nicklaus’ amazing win at the age of 46.
Everybody has their favourite.
However, my favourite live moment has to be this.
It helped that I was 30 yards away and I simply couldn’t believe what I was watching….I thought he was laying up!
Augusta Golf Tours
My trip to The Masters was organised quite brilliantly by Augusta Golf Tours, a British company who have been running tours Augusta for 26 years. They specialise in fully accompanied Masters Tours and it shows – we stayed in Columbia on their recommendation, not Augusta and were taken each day by luxury bus to the 1018 club – a magnificent hospitality clubhouse not more than a drive and a wedge from the main gates of Augusta National.
Read about a typical Masters week here…… http://www.augustagolftours.co.uk/typical-week.php
I am going again in 2014 so if you want to come with us to the 2014 Masters then contact Jeremy@jeremydale.com or call +44 (0)7748 307 849.
See you there!