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What I think about when I think about Augusta

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Rob Hodgetts | 14:07 UK time, Sunday, 1 April 2012

The Masters. Augusta. Three words but 1,000 images. What's yours?

What do you think about when you think about Augusta? I asked a number of key men this week what came into their minds. Here's what they said:

Ian Poulter
It's like being sucked into the most perfect picture that has ever been painted. Everybody gets excited going there. It tests you to the highest, most intense level. It's an amazing, electric atmosphere around the golf course. There are so many little bits that make it up to be the best event of year. Maybe because it is the same course year in, year out, we know the shots we need, we've seen shots that have or haven't been pulled off - you know the dangers and it creates that buzz.

Justin Rose
My mind invariably drifts back to my first impression in 2003 when I played a practice round the week before the tournament. What struck me was the openness and how the ninth and 18th greens were just in the middle of a vast space. It was incredible to see it with no crowd to distract you from its beauty. Walking down the 11th fairway, when you can see the 11th green, Rae's Creek, the 12th green and 13th tee - that picture is Augusta right there in my head.

Ian Woosnam, 1991 Masters champion
I think of the biggest memory of my life, of that final round, holing the winning putt and slipping into that Green Jacket - my ultimate dream. I think of the last hole where I drove it over the bunker, then the ball being on the outside the right lip, the perfect line for a right hander and it couldn't have been any better. It is the highlight of the year for me and I'm very lucky to be a part of it. Even if I wasn't a player, I'd always go back as a spectator. It so spectacular, the old place is like the Garden of Eden.

The Masters, Augusta

The stunning views around the Augusta course set The Masters apart. Picture: Getty

Paul Casey
Going down Magnolia Lane is just one of those experiences - it makes you smile. Augusta is so perfect, no-one should try to copy it. But all that beauty hides danger lurking everywhere. It's one of those golf course that takes precision to another level. You're not rewarded for good golf shots, you're rewarded for great shots. But as soon as you hit a bad one, it's one of the most penal golf courses on the planet. The examination you're given as a golfer is unlike any other. It's incredibly difficult but that's what makes it fun.

Lee Westwood
It is more an impression than anything specific. Augusta always looks great and there is a sense of excitement about returning. As the first major of the year you want to be playing your best. Specific thoughts don't happen until a few weeks before and then it is more about the atmosphere and the feeling of going there rather than technical details related to playing the course. That's pointless because it changes so much. The course you play two weeks before is not the same as the one you see in the week of the tournament.

Peter Alliss, BBC TV golf commentator
It's a very interesting place and I still love it after 40-odd years. I think of myriad things - the greenery, the colours, the crowds. The weather makes it - and I've seen it atrocious - but if it's nice, and the azaleas are in bloom it is quite stunning, like the Chelsea Flower Show. I've never found a single weed.

The clubhouse has grown but it is still very attractive and comfortable - not glitzy - just like a country club. You would think, given the surrounds, everything is served in Waterford Crystal, but it is more likely to be in plastic mugs.

It has a wonderful feel - there are no signs, no advertising, no big grandstands. I always marvel at how they control all those people with just a bit of string. Possibly some trepidation at putting a foot wrong. But the course is an oasis. The surrounding area is quite unattractive with fish and chip shops every 20 yards and huge neon signs.

Craig Connelly, Paul Casey's caddie
The thing I think about is that white suit. And how hilly the course is. But mainly the suit. It is pretty thick so you can get really hot. At least you can pack light - a couple of pairs of shorts and some T-shirts to wear under it. Hand luggage, tops. The Masters is physically tough as a caddie, but it is more mentally gruelling. You can't relax for a minute. The players are trying to land it on a 4ft x 5ft area - anything outside of that could be trouble so we have to be on our toes. I was pretty overawed the first time I went but I've been enough times now and can concentrate.

The club looks after us very well. In the new caddie house there is always food, showers, flat screen TVs. We stay in houses in Augusta rather than hotels and tend to cook in as you can't get a table anywhere before about 10pm. But the main thing for me is that I'm going there with someone who really believes he can win

Michael Vaughan, former England cricket captain and BBC TV golf reporter
For me, the Masters does what Wimbledon does for tennis. It's the start of summer and makes you desperate to get out and play golf. I've been to most sporting occasions - FA Cup finals, Champions League finals, Olympics, the Ashes, of course - but there is nothing that beats the Masters. Lord's is great and has that hush but the Masters is unique. It is not corporate and the rules on running, no mobile phones and no cameras makes it special. When I was playing cricket I wouldn't have swapped the Ashes for a Green Jacket but now I wouldn't mind one. I reckon I could make it look good.

This will be my second time there - I caddied for Lee Westwood in the par-three contest two years ago. My job will be waiting around the 18th and interviewing the players. I will be nervous, but I know quite a lot of the Europeans. I'm sure they'll get a surprise when they see my ugly mug.

Andrew Redington, photographer, Getty Images
I think of those amazing views of manicured grass, azaleas and bridges around Amen Corner. Augusta is unique because we have to shoot from outside the ropes with the spectators. A tough gig. The final putt is the key picture so I'll be hoping to nail a good one. And the Green Jacket stuff, too.

The second shots on 10 and 13 can make some really nice pictures, especially late afternoon when the shadows make stripes across the fairways. The one picture I'd still like to get is someone playing out of Rae's Creek. It does happen, but you need plenty of rain, a playable ball and a bit of luck.

A few years ago I actually got to play the course on the Monday. It was surreal. I walked around with a huge smile. I played quite well, too, which is nice - I shot 89 off a seven handicap. The whole flight home I was just holding the scorecard and grinning.

Chubby Chandler, manager of Lee Westwood, Charl Schwartzel and Darren Clarke
I just think how green and how hilly it is. It is also the anticipation of our guys getting to Thursday morning in good shape - whether they are primed and ready or whether they are nervous or have a problem with their game. I also have a lot of meetings with people from all over the world. A lot of business is done under the oak tree outside the clubhouse. We'll have food and drink every night in our "hub" house - we have clients there and the players drop by. It's not too intense a week but I wouldn't say it's fun either. It's an interesting combination of work and the adrenaline of guys playing.

Lee's whole year has been aimed at this and I would be amazed if he is not somewhere round about on Sunday evening. Charl will defend very well. The course suits him, and the Champions Dinner will be an unbelievable occasion where he will be full of pride and reminded of what last year was all about. And Darren? Who knows? How he practises seems to bear no resemblance to how he plays. As long as he enjoys going there as Open Champion and knows he's got five more years at the Masters he'll be fine.


  • Comment number 1.

    Am I the only one that thinks an each way on LD @16/1 is a great shout?

  • Comment number 2.

    You might call me cynical, but I have doubts Poulter can be called a key man for the Masters. Ryder Cup? Absolutely. Masters? Sceptical.

  • Comment number 3.

    was trying to first to comment; anyway 3rd is good enough!!! I like Poulter, we come from same place!!

  • Comment number 4.

    3. At 15:50 2nd Apr 2012, saintgina wrote:

    What you come from Crazy Trouser Land too? I think he's great too, real personality! (shame he's a Gooner)

  • Comment number 5.

    Augusta has created a special event.
    The back 9 is probably the best known in Golf.
    Plus who doesn't know the trials an tribulations of Amen Corner.
    It's also great because the favorites don't always win.
    Who would have thought Charle Shwartzel, Trevor Imelman, Mike Weir and Zac Johnson could win.
    Rory's the guy for me but guys like Keegan Bradley, Dustin Johnson and Lee Westwood all have the ability to win at a canter.
    For me Woods has too many frailties to win this year and one PGA win (Bay Hill) doesn't lay the ghosts that have been haunting him.

  • Comment number 6.

    I really fail to believe that GMen on here knows anything about golf or golfers.His comment on the second greatest golfer-Woods-who has ever played the game is ridiculous! Tiger has progressed steadily until his performance at Bay Hill showed EVERYONE who was watching that Tiger is striking the ball as well as ever, has no discernible frailities, is putting beautifully and is now hitting fairways regularly-something he did not do even in his heyday. It would be a brave man who would bet heavily against him winning.

  • Comment number 7.

    Still get goose bumps watching Sandy hitting his seven iron from the bunker in 1988.

  • Comment number 8.

    "Michael Vaughan, former England cricket captain and BBC TV golf reporter"!!!!

    Why on Earth is he being sent there? It's bad enough having his dreary, boring voice on the cricket commentary. I'm absolutely sick of these retired sportspeople - many who can hardly string a few words together (e.g. Brooking, Shearer) being given jobs on the BBC. They virtually have a monopoly of commentating jobs now. I assume their agents secure a BBC contract before their sporting retirements are announced. No doubt Vaughan's fee will finance another hair transplant.

  • Comment number 9.

    #8 Michael Vaughan is a genuine golf fan, and a very articulate and interesting person. While golf isn't his speciality he will be able to provide an amateurs insight into being at the Masters, something many of us would kill for. Personally, while a British winner would be fantastic, I will be backing Jason Day (33-1). Last year the pain of watching McIlroy lose it was awful, not to mention the £500 bet I had on him

  • Comment number 10.

    Re 5 and 6.

    I never was a fan of Woods, not because of the man himself but probably because like most Brits I prefer the underdog. But I remember watching him in his heyday - it wasn't that long ago, of course - and just marvelling at the sheer relentlessness of his game. Shot after shot from fairway to green, and in particular on the green itself, the constant pressure he would put on his opponents must have been unbearable at times, and I as a spectator would shake my head in wonder.

    I watched his final round at Honda and then again at Bay Hill and there are shades of that old relentlessness - his approach shot into the last at the Honda Classic was just unbelievable - but it wasn't the constant stream of shots that we used to see. Even in winning at Bay Hill there were a couple of times off the tee in particular he became a little wayward. So he's not the Tiger of old and not head and shoulders above the rest. But he was still very very good.

    For me, the question is how he will play the par 5s. I think I'm right in saying that in every year he won it he would finish the week -14 or -15 on the par 5s alone. If he can replicate that form he is definitely going to be there or thereabouts at the end of it.

  • Comment number 11.

    What's Allis on about? There are no "fish and chip shops" in Augusta, Peter! C'mon, you know that. This is Augusta not Altrincham!

    We have burger joints, sports bars and Hooters!

  • Comment number 12.

    Poulter...Cmon get a grip, more favourite to miss the cut!!!!!/??

  • Comment number 13.

    I love these blogs that include snippets that you struggle to find anywhere else. The caddie insights are especially fascinating. Imagine Hooters is just up Alliss's alley.

    You'd be surprised how respectable Poulter's Masters record is - never finished worse than 33rd in seven trips.

  • Comment number 14.

    Apart from the beauty of the course, my memory of Agusta will always be Jack Nicklaus winning his last one. Tiger's birdie putt at the 16th has also come close. Both legendary. Hope Tiger will go on to do great and win it eventually. It will be a fascinating addition to the history of the tournament.

  • Comment number 15.

    What do I think of? Well the joy of getting to go ever since I met my Georgia Peach in 2005! Blimey it is so amazing I would have married her just for the ticket lol, but seriously things you might not know.

    Yes all around it is a bit of a pit...burger bars gas stations basically your typical American strip....except here for a week they have a Marquee addition of Hooters with stunning staff from all across the USA it's worth a visit!

    It is the only event I have ever been to where you aren't gouged for food and drink, a dollar a beer or a coke maybe 2 dollars for a really nice sandwich....just so nice to be able to eat drink as you wish and not be worried about the prices. No phones why can't all tournaments do this, although at the Open they would charge you a fiver to look after it I suppose.....oh and car parking that's free too!

    Guys ever been to Wembley and wanted to use the long do you wait? in Augusta they even solve that...seriously there are half a dozen guys in the mens room directing everyone to available spots .....three down the left sir two on the right....amazing how it focuses the mind to get in and out!!

    Sitting around the green at 10 is like you have died and gone to can tell a Tiger roar from any other oh and you really can smell the Azaleas.

    Tiger must go close......his recent 62 let alone the Bay Hill win was enough for me.....I expect a good performance from K j Choi and you could do a lot worst than an each way look at John Senden 200-1 but makes stack loads of birdies

    Final comments ...gutted will miss this year due to family commitments here it should be a great one.

  • Comment number 16.

    sorry but i think the open is the greatest tournament in the world,the masters is great tv viewing but the open has 50+years of history more and like wimbledon for tennis is the no1 and the home of golf,cant syat i get excited by golf but this is a rare time as woods and mcilroy and the rest of the field battle it out,to be fair ausgusta national is a stunning venue but not the most prestigeous title

  • Comment number 17.

    #16 Totally agree. The Open, for me, will always be the greatest tournament in the world. The main reason being the history and that it is 'Open' with amateurs and qualifiers along side the best in the world. The Masters is a new tournament in comparison to The Open. I'm not suprised in the slightest that Poulter ranks The Masters above The Open, it simply confirms him as the idiot that he comes across as.

    The Masters is an amazing spectacle and I look forward to it every season but it will never rank above The Open.

  • Comment number 18.

    #12...I'm no big Poulter fan but don't understand the undue criticism he gets for his golf game, won as recently as November, 3rd at Bay Hill and a good Masters record. I don't see him winning but don't see him missing the cut either.

    If Woods plays to the level of the Bay Hill win then he wins here as well for me, aside from Woods I really fancy Keegan Bradley to have a good week.

    I have a feeling that McIlroy and the Masters will be story with more years to run, with a victory coming after 4 or 5 years of frustration!

  • Comment number 19.

    #14 - I'm pretty sure woods' iconic birdie at the 16th was a chip-in rather than a birdie putt??

    For me the most iconic thing about the place is the colour, everything is so defined, the course is green, rough, fairways etc. The bunkers are so white and the plants, pine needles and even the water - picture perfect.


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