Five Things to See At the 2019 Masters Tournament
This year will be my tenth consecutive year entertaining corporate guests at The Masters in Augusta, Georgia.
You never forget the first time you visit the Augusta National Golf Club. For me, it was April 4, 2009 at 3:30 in the afternoon. My client drove to the club, took me in the back gate (when there was a back gate) and gave me a personal tour. We had Member’s Guest badges, so we actually went right into the clubhouse and did our souvenir shopping in the Member’s Pro Shop.
You could spend days just taking in the scenery. As much as I love to play golf, I know that simply walking the eighteen hole course and par 3 course would be a beautiful way to spend the day. Even on a clear day, there’s a slight haze of history that surrounds the Hogan Bridge, the Sarazen Bridge, and other historic markers throughout the property. It’s a hallowed ground.
If you’ve never been, here are five things to see on your first visit to The Masters. If you’re a Masters Veteran, here are five things you might look forward to reconnecting with…
1). The Clubhouse - without a doubt, the clubhouse at the Augusta National Golf Club is the most famous building in golf. The huge building, with its wide wrap-around porch and iconic “Crow’s Nest” cupola on top, is the symbol of The Masters. My favorite room is the Trophy Room, where the clubs and winning golf balls from many historic Masters moments are housed - including the club that Gene Sarazen hit the legendary “shot heard round the world” with in 1935. Even if your badge doesn’t allow you access, you can still get your picture taken at the flagpole (if you’re willing to wait in line).
2) The Concession Stands - No visit to The Masters is complete without one of their famous $1 pimento cheese sandwiches, wrapped in green paper (supposedly so any loose wrappers would blend into the grass on TV). Because Mr. Jones said the tournament should be an affordable event to attend, the concession prices are shockingly low for everything - including beer.
My friends in the golf club industry are more impressed by speed that people move through the concession areas. No one ever feels like they’re stuck in line, and even the longest lines quickly stream through the concession buildings. One club manager told me he spent about twenty minutes just watching the efficient operations.
You’ll notice that everywhere at Augusta National Golf Club - someone did some hard thinking about how things ought to look and feel, developed a detailed plan for doing it, and is now executing that plan perfectly. There are no “ad hoc” solutions. There is only careful planning.
3) The Sixteenth - One of the fun traditions of Masters practice is watching players skip balls through the water and onto the green at 16. The fans get into the excitement and expect each player to hit at least one trick shot. They applaud successful attempts, politely razz the unsuccessful, and “encourage” less enthusiastic players to remember the skipping tradition.
If you choose your viewing area carefully, you can see the approach shots and putting at 15 as well as the action on 16.
4). Amen Corner - If there are three legendary holes at Augusta National, they are 11, 12, and 13. Golf history has been made by the difficult approach shot to the 11th green, which has water on two sides and a large mound guarding the right side. The swirling winds have stopped dozens of tee shots (and many second shots) to the shallow green at 12, where a long shot gets lost in the azaleas and a short shot is lost forever in Rae’s Creek. The teeing ground at 13 continues to be moved further and further back, making players drive the ball further and further to get a good second shot to the famous triple bunkered green.
Amen Corner is one of the perfect places to watch practice or tournament play, too. Patrons can see the approach shots and putts to the 11th green, all the action on the 12th hole, and the drive from the 13th tee.
5) The Fifth - Probably the most anticipated change at The Masters for 2019 will be the new tee box at number 5. The hole has been lengthened significantly, moving the tee box back even further. The club purchased all the property on both sides of Berkman’s Road several years ago, and the new tee is now on other side of where the road used to be. This is not the first time the club has expanded the course outside of the original property lines - they purchased land from the Augusta Country Club to move the 13th tee back and make that hole longer as well.
The fifth hole will be more difficult. Current technology and well-trained professional players could easily carry the large bunkers on the left with their tee shots. Moving the tee back brings these bunkers into play again. No player wants to be stranded there, either - the tall, steep face makes it impossible for a bunkered player to see the green, which many players describe as one of the most difficult on the course.
That’s my list of five things to watch for at The Masters in 2019 - at least until the tournament starts. With it’s fast greens, difficult approach shots, and a ton of history and legacy lumped on each player’s shoulders, The Masters is one of the most exciting and unpredictable tournaments of the year. That’s why many players agree that the real tournament doesn’t start “until the back nine on Sunday…”
Forbes offers “Three Masters Sleeper Picks to Take a Chance On”
Golf Magazine profiles Fred Couples: Age-defying Fred Couples breaks down his five favorite spots at Augusta National
Golf Magazine tells it like it is (?): Here’s what the pros think are the best (and worst) holes at Augusta.