GolfTEC’s Jon Levy provides an inside look from Wednesday’s practice round at the Masters
Editor’s Note: This article was originally posted during the 2016 Masters. But the experience, like many things at Augusta National, is timeless. So read on and enjoy the 2017 Masters!
By Jon Levy
AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Masters is underway and since you can’t be here yourself, here are my top moments from Wednesday at Augusta and the ISPS HANDA GWAA 44th Annual Awards Dinner presented by the PGA of America, PGA Tour and USGA …
Entering through the secret door
My day began with the annual Golf Writers meeting in the Augusta National Press Center. Once entering ANGC through a private gate and shuttling past the club’s own cottages – with the public nowhere in sight – I had arrived at the ENORMOUS Masters Press Center. Picture NASA Ground Control meets a drive-in theater. Very impressive.
Watching Lefty get his grind on
The first thing I did after my meeting was hit the practice facility, where Phil Mickelson was in the middle of a grind session with new swing coach Andrew Getson. His swing looked cleaner than I’ve seen in recent years and he sounded rejuvenated in his early-week presser, so I expect good things from Lefty this week. Parking yourself at the range is a must-do at the Masters, or at any Tour event for that matter, as there’s a lot of action happening in all directions. I could’ve sat there all day but, alas, had that famous golf course to go explore.
Watching THE four-ball of the day
Got on the course just in time for a back-nine four-ball with Jordan Spieth, Zach Johnson, Jason Dufner and Jimmy Walker. If you’ve ever seen tour players play practice rounds, they often hole out for score in friendly competitive matches, then hit a few shots to assumed pins for each tournament day. Such was the case with this group, and man were there a lot of people following last year’s champion.
Augusta National is different than it looks on TV
It’s often said Augusta National is hillier in person than it appears on TV. This is true. What’s often not said, however, is how much smaller the greens are than they appear on the flat screen. That shows how good these guys really are, considering the minuscule margins they’re afforded here.
The patrons know their Masters history
Funniest moment of the day happened on my walk up 14, when people recognized Verne Lundquist driving by in a golf cart and spontaneously shouted, “YES, SIR!” to the longtime announcer. He responded with raised arms in victory-v-clad fashion, fully owning his iconic line to the crowd’s cheering delight.
A little of this, a lot of that
I spent just $6.50 on a chicken sandwich, pimento cheese sandwich and lemonade for lunch. You don’t want to know what I spent in the merchandise tent.
Hearing the roars
After taking in more of the warm Georgia sun at Bobby Jones’ realized dream, I went over to catch some of the Par-3 Tournament. Unfortunately I didn’t see any of the hole-in-ones, but boy did I hear them.
Standing at the doorstep
My last stop before departing was a quick detour for a free picture in front of the clubhouse, which sits at the end of Magnolia Lane. If you ever get to a Masters, the short line you’ll encounter for this is well worth it.
Seeing an array of cool trophies
Late for most things but always early for cocktail hour, I was able to check out the recipients’ hardware at the annual Golf Writers dinner before things got going. Shiny new objects sure do catch the eye.
Tour pros + golf media = respected partnership
Among the evening’s honorees were Jordan Spieth, Lydia Ko, Davis Love III, J.B. Holmes, Jeff Maggert, Christie Kerr and Dottie Pepper. All were onsite, all were incredibly gracious. Sports media can get a bad rap, but such is not generally the case in golf and the heartfelt support showed to the Golf Writers Association of America proves it.
A player hard at work
Best takeaway from the evening goes to the GWAA Player of the Year himself, Jordan Spieth, who showed up to a formal event in golf clothes. This wasn’t meant as disrespect – quite the opposite, as the defending Masters champ came straight from the course after cracking the face of his driver the day before Round 1. It was great to see him honor his commitment and do it with a smile on his face, and it was also telling of why he’s reached the pinnacle of our sport.
It’s undoubtedly going to be an amazing week at Augusta National. Enjoy the Masters!