April has arrived! In the golf calendar that can mean only one thing – The Masters. The world’s elite golfers will gather at Augusta National in Georgia over the next few days, all ultimately with the same goal…to win the year’s first Major.
There is something very special about Augusta National. The fact that The Masters is the only Major to return to the same course every year speaks volumes for the magical atmosphere Augusta provides. In my opinion, it is rivalled only by The Ryder Cup for sheer entertainment. It is one of the few tournaments that my sister (who hates golf) could sit down and watch, which says alot!
So what separates The Masters from every other professional tournament? What makes it so special? On paper it’s just like every other tournament – 72 holes over 4 days and 1 winner. But it’s so much more than that. Augusta is 7435 yards of perfectly manicured fairways and undulating greens. Flowers decorate the holes adding colour to this already stunning golf course. (Interestingly each hole is named after a flower found on that hole). Augusta is also home of the most famous driveway in golf: Magnolia Lane. The players must get goosebumps as they turn to drive up it every year. The land the course is built on just happens to be extremely spectator friendly – housing dozens of natural vantage points that create a mini stadium feeling and electric atmosphere (16th hole in particular). Come Su nday, expect roars and gasps to reverberate around the course as players rise and fall on the leaderboard.
3 paragraphs in and I haven’t even spoken about the challenge the holes themselves offer the golfers! The course is perfect in my opinion. You’d think that because the players play Augusta every year that it should get ‘easier’. It doesn’t. The charm of Augusta is that it is both rewarding and devilish – the 15th hole is a prime example of this. Depending on your second shot at the 15th, you could just as easily end up with a double bogey 7 as you could an eagle 3.
The Masters always offers drama and entertainment. Down the years we’ve witnessed golfing masterclasses – Tiger Woods in 1997 and Jordan Spieth in 2015 both runaway winners. But on the other end of the spectrum we’ve witnessed some of the biggest meltdowns in golf – Greg Norman, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth (just a year on from conquering Augusta) all fell apart at the most famous stretch of holes in golf – Amen Corner.
Who will be donning the famous Green Jacket on Sunday? It’s hard to look past the bookie’s favourite and world number 1 Dustin Johnson, his game is perfectly suited to capitalise at Augusta. I think Phil Mickelson also could have a big say in the tournament this year – not making the cut last year will have hurt him, and he’s started the season playing some very good golf. Other players who’s games are suited to Augusta are Thomas Pieters for his length and Brandt Snedeker is one of the best putters on tour which is needed around Augusta’s lightning greens.
This weekend has all the makings of a great weekend of sport – we’re spoiled for choice, from the unpredictable madness that is the Grand National on Saturday to the climax of The Masters on Sunday.
Lets hope its a good one!
PS: Here is a pic of me trying my best to emulate the pros