Even after 20 years, memories still tingle

Bob Warters's picture
Fri, 25 Mar 2011

The par-4 fifth, then at 435 yards, is stroke index one for members so a five was a real result while at six - a par-3 that sits 20 feet below - a three-putt double bogey with the pin cut on the back ledge was all I could manage.

The par-4 seventh has been extended by nearly 100 yards since I played it but back in ’91 pros were punching a long iron into position down a narrow fairway then flipping wedges to an elevated green protected by three deep bunkers at the front and two at the back. These days pros hit 3-wood or hybrid into position then spin back a short iron on a severely tilted green.

After  another double bogey six, I revealed to my caddie that I had accepted a bet with a colleague that I would break 100 round Augusta National and this really got his attention.

Such a remark tends to infer to a caddie that there may well be something in it for the bag man if the wager bears fruit.

With the par-5 8th and dogleg 9th to come – and 91 blows having already been struck - there was an outside chance but ‘we’ really needed a birdie pretty quickly.

'Blue' got down on his knees to read ‘our’ 30-foot birdie attempt on the undulating 8th green and to my untrained eye it needed to start four feet left of the hole. He convinced me, however, the line was two feet to right and when it lipped out after a roller-coaster ride, he was mortified it hadn’t dropped!

A par at the 9th – my third of the day, for a round 100 (54 out, 46 back) – signalled a hearty slap on the back from my new-found friend, hoping that I hadn’t thought too badly of his efforts on my behalf, even though I’d loss my bet by a whisker.

And when I peeled off three $10 notes to add to his agreed fee he seemed genuinely appreciative. Gripping my hand he said: ‘You de man, Sir! You played nice, today." And I felt he meant it.

It was a privilege and an honour to hit my ball around Augusta National  – an opportunity very, very few handicap golfers can say they have experienced.

And 20 years on, it still brings a tingle of excitement to recall the day I played Augusta National.