AUGUSTA NATIONAL is one of the world’s most exclusive golf courses and only 0.00001% of golfers ever get the chances to play it.
I’m one of the lucky ones having played the course as part of a small media group, the day after Ian Woosnam won in 1991, then hit a few shots with and took photographs of some friends who played it in 1994.
Here’s a different view of the course, some of the key incidents and my own personal memories...
No.1 Tea Olive
Description: Par-4, 445 yards. Slight dogleg to the right demanding tricky tee shot to the crest of the hill carrying the fairway bunker at 300 yards. Shorter hitters face an uphill shot to the undulating green with tough pin at the back. Ranked tied-6th hardest with a 4.23 average historically.
Incident: Rory McIlroy got his third round in 2012 off to a rocky start when he double-bogeyed to slip down the field, moments before Charl Schwartzel pitched in for birdie.
Personal: For five years I got up at before sunrise to walk to the course on the first day and watch legends like Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson tee off as honorary starters.
No.2 Pink Dogwood
Description: Par-5, 575 yards. A slight draw off the tee sets up a chance to reach the green in two. Bunkers in front of the green often come into play. Ranked 16th (4.81 average).
Incident: Louis Oosthuizen became the first player to score an albatross two during last year’s Masters, his 4-iron hitting the green and rolling for 30 feet before dropping into the cup. David Duval hit it into the trees on the left in 2006, took two penalty shots and eventually carded a ten.
Personal: Apart from seeing Nick Faldo hole a 100-foot putt here on TV, standing behind John Daly as he smacked a drive out of sight was a memory that will live for ever.
No.3 Flowering Peach
Description: Par-4, 350 yards. Most players opt for position off the tee with a long iron or a hybrid to leave them short of the left-hand fairway bunkers. The shallow green, slopes viciously from right to left. Ranked 14th (4.10 average).
Incidents: Charl Schwartzel effectively cemented his Green Jacket here in 2011 when he holeds his approached from 114 yards for eagle.
Personal: In 1992, while leading the tournament and paired with eventual winner Fred Couples, I saw Craig Parry step away from a putt here when a partizan spectator barked a loud cough on his backswing.
No. 4 Flowering Crabapple
Description: Par-3, 240 yards. A tough par-3 from an elevated tee requires a long-iron shot to the a two-level green guarded by a pair of bunkers. Ranked 4th (3.29 average).
Incidents: Phil mickelson hopes of a third green jacket ended here in 2012. Just two behind his ball hit a grandstand and dived into the woods. Playing right handed he took two more to escape found the bunker and eventually took six and his Masters was done.
Personal: I heard it but didn’t see it when Jeff Sluman holed in one in 1992- the roar was amazing. Also had the privilege the play here behind Michael Bonallack and his wife in 1991 and recorded a five by three-putting from four feet!
Description: Par-4, 455 yards. Deep fairway bunkers on the left demand a carry of 315 yards around the left-hand dogleg. Humps in the green provide a challenging approach and hollows on the green leave players an outside chance at a birdie putt. Ranked 5th (4.27 average).
Incident: Jack Nicklaus twice holed his second shot in 1995 (the year Ben Crenshaw won), while Trevor Immelman (2008) opened his birdie account three times here.
Personal: Walking with Jeff Maggert’s family - I was doing a diary with him - in 1994, the year he achieved a unique Masters feat. (More on this later.)
Description: Par-3, 180 yards. Downhill to an elevated green from and elevated tee. Requires a medium iron with a shelf at the back sweeping down to a green that slopes from right to left. Put the ball on the wrong part of the green and a three-putt are a strong possibility. Ranked 13th (3.14 average).
Incidents: Jose Maria Olazabal took seven here in 1991 and lost by a shot to Ian Woosnam over 72 holes.
Personal: From behind the tee or the back of the green one of Augusta’s best viewing holes, with patron packed on the slopes below the tee. It was on leaving this green in 1992 that Craig Parry was verbally assaulted by a spectator who wanted the Australian to concede to Fred Couples.
Description: Par-4, 450 yards. A new tee was installed in 2002, 30 yards back from a plantation of Pampas grass that gives it its name. It puts a driver back into most players hands where bewfore they were able to hit long iron into a narrow fairway. The hole also features an elevated, well-bunkered green that slopes from the back. Ranked 11th (4.15 average).
Incident: Larry Mize, Phil Mickelson and Miguel Angel Jimenez are among the players who have holed out with their second shots for eagle here.
Personal: Ssshhh... don’t tell Augusta but I once took two divot pelts from the semi-rough on the right of this fairway in 1994 to bring back and grow in my garden. Neither germinated but they fitted nicely into my golf shoes in my luggage and proved a real talking point for a few weeks.
No.8 Yellow Jasmine
Description: Par-5, 570 yards. A large fairway bunker at 300 yards on the right pushes players to the left and makes the green difficult to reach in two shots. It’s a blind uphill shot awaiting those tempted to go for it in two. Most, however, leave their approaches short to the right where the long green opens up. Ranked 15th (4.84 average).
Incident: Bruce Devlin made an albatross two in 1967. Having already eagled the par-4 third, Charl Schwartzel made another at the eighth with a chip-in on his way to winning the Green Jacket in 2011.
Personal: Only second hole I ever parred at Augusta. I was faced with a 25-foot putt for birdie which look to swing from left to right. My caddie ‘Blue’ suggested four foot outside right and I was able to cosy it up to the hole and punch the air.
No.9 Carolina Cherry
Description: Par-4, 460 yards. The tee is set back behind the eighth green and the fairway sweeps down to the left between towering stands of trees flanking the fairway. Then it’s uphill to a two-tier green. Accuracy off the tee is required, and approach shots that are short of the target often roll off the green. The severely sloped green makes par a challenge. Ranked T11th (4.15 average).
Incidents: In 1995 John Daly stroked a putt from above the hole that didn’t stop until it was 30 yards down the fairway.
Personal: Having started on the back nine in 1991, this was my 18th hole. I rolled home a par putt from ten feet to card 100 exactly!
Article continues. Click here for Bob's take on the back nine.