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How the golfers shop at Augusta National

Perhaps 100 yards remained on his walk to the first tee. But no worries. John Daly knew he had plenty of time. It was the Sunday before the Masters would start, the serenity was thick, traffic on the golf course thin, and the lure of the pro shop was impossible to fight off. He veered left and went shopping. For ashtrays. Boxes of them, the volume requiring assistance from a few others to carry out to his car. Daly knew it looked curious, so he stopped to answer the inquiry. “Love the ashtrays,” he said to a reporter. OK, that explained buying one or two. But not boxes of them. Daly laughed. Lots of friends who deserved, and would get, gifts. Then he shrugged. “Plus, who knows how many more times I’m going to be in this thing?” Which is a layer of the story that supports the notion that the Masters is unlike any other week of the golf year. The merchandise – only available on-site at Augusta National; there is no online shopping presence -- is such a huge attraction, even the players partake. The same players who every other week of the golf season see only the golf course, the practice range, and the dining area. Even Mark Calcavecchia – a notoriously fast player who wouldn’t strike you as the sort who’d meander through the shirt or hat rack to find the perfect gift – concedes he made the merchandise shop an annual stop in his 18 Masters. “They have a lot of cool stuff,” Calcavecchia said. “Basically, it was my Christmas shopping.” Of course, there was a strategy, given the crowds and his desire to get in practice rounds. “You always went on Monday, to get ahead of people and you’d have lot more stuff to choose from.” Chances are, Calcavecchia crossed paths with other players and caddies, because veteran Augusta visitors knew the secrets. Hitting the merchandise shop on Monday was one of them. “A high priority,” said Jim “Bones” Mackay, longtime caddie for Phil Mickelson, a three-time winner of this fabled tournament. “Having been blessed to be there quite a few years, I realized early that they ran out of some merchandise quicker than others.” And when you have a shopping list from your wife and friends, you cannot fail. So, Mackay said his mission on Mondays was the go-to items. Near the top of the list, if not the very top, wasn’t the golf shirt with a Masters logo, it was the onesie for the newest editions to various families. “My wife (Jennifer) loved them,” he said. “They are the best gift in the world, a cool onesie with the logo on it.” His assignment had other must-stop points on the merchandise trail. Passing hats and other popular items, Mackay was a big fan of some “really good workout shirts that made for cool gifts.” He also fell for the Masters gnomes that became quite popular a few years ago. OK, maybe he was partial to it because the little fella is dressed as an Augusta National caddie – the famed white jumpsuit even features the players’ registration number on the left chest – with a golf bag over his shoulder. Of course, the hat is green with an iconic logo. While many of his purchases are for family and friends, Mackay concedes that he and his wife very much like the gnomes and have the collection strategically spread out in various potted plants in their home. While they may not resonate like the personal rewards of those Mickelson wins in 2004, 2006 and 2010 – that being flags from the 18th hole – Mackay said the gnomes draw plenty of attention from visitors. That is the power of the iconic Masters logo. “All the stuff has the logo on it and people everywhere see that and know it’s a prestigious place,” Calcavecchia said. “Yes, I did,” said Brandel Chamblee, when asked if he included shopping duties when he qualified for the Masters in 1999. “Not only to remember the week, but because it is the one place where all of your friends and family make requests of the players for gear from the event.” Chamblee’s visit 21 years ago left an indelible impression, because he opened with a 69 to share the first-round lead with Nick Price, Davis Love III and Scott McCarron. Jose Maria Olazabal would win the green jacket for a second time that year, but Chamblee acquitted himself nicely with a share of 18th, and should he need reminders of his one Masters appearance, there are the prizes he earned (crystal vase for his low score in the first round, crystal goblets for an eagle at No. 13, also Thursday) and purchases he made. “I still have the T-shirt I bought that week and the high-ball glasses I bought with all the former champions on it,” he said. Brett Quigley, like Chamblee, got only one start in the Masters (2007) but confirms that merchandise was a big part of it. “We had two houses rented that week, so we had lots of friends there,” said Quigley. “Both houses were full of the Masters gear – hats, T-shirts, golf shirts, baby clothes, umbrella, and chairs.” Just so you don’t think it’s only first-time visitors like Chamblee or Quigley who are part of the shopping corps, there was the legendary Billy Casper. He first competed in the Masters in 1957 and for all his 44 other starts and all those years through 2014 that he regaled the pageantry with is presence, gifts were a must. True, he entrusted his wonderful wife, Shirley, to organize the gift list, and “each year she bought an item for each of the 150 players in my dad’s charity event,” said Bob Casper, one of Billy’s 11 children. One-hundred-fifty gifts, at the minimum? “We always enjoyed shopping at the Masters,” said Bob. Truth is, who among the fortunate attendees doesn’t? “I would always go early Monday or late Monday,” said Mackay, who would be out of uniform (not wearing the caddie jumpsuit), yet it wouldn’t stop fans from pointing him out or even engaging in conversation. “But people were always nice,” said Mackay, who never had an issue. The reason, he suggested, was simple. “When you get in (the merchandise shop), you have a responsibility,” he said. “You’re there to get it done. Everyone has shopping on their minds because there are amazing keepsakes.” Amazing socks, too, and if you find yourself laughing, chances are Fred Couples will not see the humor. The 1992 champion is arguably one of the most popular Masters participants of this and any other era, and few love the place like he does. So, if Couples suggests that his impeccable longevity – 30 cuts made in 34 starts, a win and 10 other top-10s – is built from the bottom up, starting with the socks, then who would argue? True, his cool nonchalance is God-given, but the youthful spring in his step when he’s on property at Augusta National? Couples’ friends will tell you it comes from the new pair of socks he purchases every day. “He loves the socks,” confirmed former longtime caddie Joe LaCava. Not that the popular attractions don’t stretch beyond onesies, gnomes, and socks. They surely do, something Billy Andrade always knew, though it was reinforced last April. Andrade, who played in six Masters and concedes that he was a typical shopper, was in Augusta doing some corporate hospitality. He’s done it in the past and has become friendly with many of the guests. When a woman sat down at his table, Andrade noticed a couple of merchandise bags. “Get everything you needed?” he asked. The woman said yes, then laughed and revealed the highlight of her trip to the merchandise shop. “You wouldn’t believe it,” she said, “but a man in a coat and tie was in line and he bought 150 Masters flags.” Andrade said he chuckled, didn’t think anything of it until the woman stole a glance at a TV that was showing the Golf Channel’s coverage of the Masters. “There he is,” the woman exclaimed, pointing to a gentleman in suit coat and tie. “The man who bought the 150 flags.” Andrade laughed. Yes, he knew the person the woman was pointing to; it was somebody well-known in golf circles. But we’ll keep it a mystery. Shopping at Augusta, even very large orders, is just part of the experience – for patrons, players, and golf analysts.

 

09 Apr 2020


Ogletree’s pairing with Tiger put on hold

Andy Ogletree has imagined hitting that tee shot many times. It always ends up in the same spot, just past the deep bunker that guards the right side of Augusta National’s first fairway. Ogletree was scheduled to hit that tee shot today in the first round of the Masters. But then the world was turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic. Sports, like the rest of life, were impacted, and the Masters is no exception. The tournament was pushed back seven months, to Nov. 12-15. Related: The Masters in November: What to expect | Roundtable: Most emotional Masters | Ranking Tiger's top 10 clubs Fans and players alike anticipate this rite of spring with unparalleled excitement, but Ogletree has a unique perspective. He wasn’t just scheduled to play his first Masters. He was going to play with Tiger Woods. “I’ve thought about it a lot. I’m not going to lie,” he said. He doesn’t let those thoughts travel past the first tee shot, though. “I’ve played that tee shot a lot in my head, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. The gameplan is to focus on the first one and then add them up from there,” he said. Pairings for this year’s Masters haven’t been released, but pairing the U.S. Amateur and Masters champions is one of the tournament’s many traditions. Augusta National was co-founded by the greatest amateur of all time, the incomparable Bobby Jones, and its respect for the amateur game runs deep. Woods put on his fifth green jacket last April. Ogletree watched the final round in his apartment with his teammates. “We all went crazy,” he said. “It’s definitely a day I’ll remember forever.” Another one came four months later, at the historic Pinehurst Resort. Ogletree knew what was at stake when he faced John Augenstein in the final match of the U.S. Amateur. “(Playing with Woods) was a big interview topic throughout the week,” Ogletree said. Both finalists already had Masters invitations in hand, but only the winner would play with the 15-time major champion. Ogletree was 4 down after five holes but won four of the final seven holes for a 2-and-1 win. His four-hole deficit is believed to be the fourth-largest overcome by a champion. Woods was 6 down through 13 holes against Trip Kuehne in 1994. Two years later, he was 5 down after the morning round of the 36-hole match, as was Labron Harris in 1962. “I was definitely looking forward to it,” Ogletree said about the Masters. “I’ll just keep looking forward to it for a while. It’s all perspective. I just have to have a positive outlook. That’s all I can do now.” Ogletree also joins Jones and Matt Kuchar as Georgia Tech alums to hoist the Havemeyer Trophy as the U.S. Amateur champion. Kuchar, Ogletree and Jones’ grandson, Bobby Jones IV, all met at last year’s TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta. Kuchar also played with Woods in the Masters after winning the 1997 U.S. Amateur. Woods won that year’s Masters by 12 shots. Woods beat Kuchar by just a stroke, 71 to 72, in the first round and just three strokes for the week. Woods finished T8, six shots behind Mark O’Meara, while Kuchar, then a college sophomore, impressed with a T21 finish. He finished T14 at that year’s U.S. Open, as well. Kuchar and Ogletree are scheduled to play a practice round at the Masters, but perhaps Ogletree can also dispense some advice. He’s already played Augusta National in November. Last fall, he played the same weekend that that this year’s tournament is scheduled to be played. Now he has even more time to prepare for his first major. His senior season at Georgia Tech was cut short by coronavirus, so he returned home to Mississippi to be with his family. His hometown of Little Rock, Mississippi, has approximately 2,000 residents. “It’s a lot easier to social-distance here,” he said. His U.S. Amateur win also earned him spots in The Open Championship, which has been pushed to back to 2021, and U.S. Open, which is now scheduled to be played in September. These changes have likely delayed his plans to turn pro. Every aspect of life is full of uncertainty right now. For now, Ogletree is working on his game at two local courses. “I’m sure I’ll watch this week. Anytime it’s Masters week, I’m watching with multiple screens,” Ogletree said. “It was always a big week for my family, as golf fans.” This year, it will be even bigger.

 

08 Apr 2020


Byron Nelson vs. Gene Littler at Pine Valley available free on PGA TOUR LIVE

Pine Valley and Augusta National. Two of the most prestigious clubs in the world, but with one big difference. Augusta National hosts one of the world’s biggest golf tournaments. Millions of people see the course every year. Many can recite its holes from memory. Pine Valley, on the other hand, is shrouded in secrecy. There is only one day per year that the public can get on the course. That’s for the final round of the Crump Cup, an annual amateur invitational. Related: Free historical content available on PGA TOUR LIVE | Golf world presents revised 2020 calendar Most golf fans have only seen photos of the famous course. Few can name the holes of George Crump’s masterpiece. Now, you can watch two World Golf Hall of Famers play Pine Valley. The 1962 Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf between Byron Nelson and Gene Littler is now available free on PGA TOUR LIVE. On a week when many of us would be glued to our couches to watch the Masters, it’s worth watching another classic course that offers a contrasting style. Where Augusta National is known for its immaculate manicuring, Pine Valley offers a rugged test. The aerials that kick off the broadcast alone make this must-see TV. They show Pine Valley’s large, unkempt wastelands of sand and thick forest that offer stiff penalties for players who stray from the wide fairways and large, severely-sloped greens. The fact that the match also includes two of the game’s sweetest swingers is a bonus. Littler won the 1961 U.S. Open, while Nelson had 52 wins, including his historic 1945 season, and five majors. Here’s a few other selections from PGA TOUR LIVE that are appropriate for Masters week: • Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf: Gene Sarazen vs. Henry Cotton: This is a rare opportunity to watch the man who hit the greatest shot in Masters history. Sarazen won the second Masters in 1935 with an albatross on the 15th hole in the final round. • Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf: Greg Norman vs. Nick Faldo: This match came two years before that fateful Sunday at Augusta National, when Norman lost a six-stroke lead to Faldo in the final round of the 1996 Masters. It offers an opportunity to watch two of the best players from the 1990s. • Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf: Jimmy Demaret vs. Sam Snead: This is an opportunity to watch two three-time Masters champions compete. • PGA TOUR Profiles: Sergio Garcia: Born to Be A Champion: Sergio Garcia had to wait a long time to win his first major at the 2017 Masters. This documentary details that journey. • PGA TOUR Profiles: Home Again: Bubba Watson is a two-time Masters champion. You can learn more about his journey from the Florida panhandle to major champion in this documentary. • PGA TOUR Profiles: Great Scott: A documentary on Adam Scott becoming the first Australian to win at Augusta National.

 

08 Apr 2020


Course Guide: Players break down all 18 holes at Augusta National

Augusta National Golf Club is familiar territory to golf fans, many of whom eagerly watch the year's first major championship on television. A two-dimensional screen cannot accurately display the holes' extreme elevation changes or the subtle slopes on the course's famed putting surfaces. That's why PGATOUR.COM asked the world's best players to describe how they play Augusta National's historic holes. We hope their insight will give you a deeper appreciation for this hallowed ground. No. 1: 455 yards, par-4 “Tea Olive” Adam Scott (2013 Masters champion) says: I think the first hole at Augusta is a very underrated difficult hole. Most of the time it’s a 3-wood or a driver because it’s a very long hole these days. It gets narrow up by the fairway bunker so some guys will lay back with a 3-wood to the start of the bunker where it’s the widest and you still get up the hill to see the green. The fairway is probably 45 yards wide just short of the bunker. It’s probably 15-20 yards wide at the end of the bunker. I’ll hit anywhere from a 6-iron to an 8-iron into the green. The green is very severe. Hitting the green is a great start but it’s a lot of work on the green just to get it in the hole. You’re faced with some very, very difficult putts if you’re not in the right spot. It’s a raised up green with run offs on all sides and long is very, very bad news. It’s a good shot to hit it into the middle of the green and leave yourself a 30-footer. The middle-right pin is the only pin that you might challenge. There’s a backstop behind it and it feeds into that little bowl there. Everything else is danger if you go at it and miss it, so middle of the green is always a good play. If you can start your round off with a 4 there, I feel like it’s a birdie. No. 2: 575 yards, par-5 “Pink Dogwood” Rickie Fowler says: “No. 2 at Augusta, you come into it as your first real birdie opportunity. It’s maybe one of the easier drives for a lot of guys, you just aim it at the fairway bunker and try to hit a draw. It’s a tough second shot. You have a downhill lie, usually in the 240 area, and the green is sloped severely left-to-right and you don’t want to be above the hole. The trees on the left mean you almost always have to draw it into the green and with it being a downhill lie, it’s tough to do that. You’ll see guys, if they’re not comfortable with the shot, hit it into the front-right bunker or push it down to the bottom right side of the fairway, where you’ll have some fairly easy chips to some of the pins. The one bunker you really try to avoid is the front-left. To the front pin, if you hit it anywhere left, it’s almost impossible to hit it within 20 feet of the hole. There’s a lot of strategy at Augusta, but especially in the par 5s.” No. 3: 350 yards, par-4 “Flowering Peach” Charl Schwartzel (2011 Masters champion) says: “No. 3 gives you options. You decide what you want to do according to where the pin placement is. Most of the time I would hit driver to sort of any flag except the left flag. If the flag is on the left, I prefer to hit a layup with a 3-iron and a wedge into that green because of how the green slopes on that left side. You have the bunkers up the left side (of the fairway). Your driver can carry those bunkers, and you can get it over the hill. It runs into a little hollow at the bottom there and you normally have a 30- or 40-yard pitch. “If you lay it back, you don't want to lay it back too far back because you will have sort of a blind shot because of the ridge. You need to get it right up to the bunkers if you are going to lay up so you can have a visual to the green. (Schwartzel made eagle on No. 3 in the final round of his 2011 victory, hitting 3-iron and sand wedge). “It's one of the easier holes on the course. It's one of the holes you're looking at birdie.” No. 4: 240 yards, par-3 “Flowering Crab Apple” Jason Dufner says: "I'm usually hitting a 3-iron, sometimes a 5-wood. It's probably the toughest hole on the golf course, to be honest. I'm just trying to get it on the green. That front-right bunker plays OK to a couple of the hole locations. You're not going to make worse than a 4 from the front-right bunker, and you'll have a pretty good chance at 3. It's just one of those holes where you're trying to make par. I think I made birdie once. "The front-left pin is extremely tough. It's not very wide, maybe 12 to 14 paces at the most. You're probably better off in that left bunker when the pin is in the front." No. 5: 455 yards, par-4 “Magnolia” Trevor Immelman (2008 Masters champ) says: “It’s a hard hole. You’re just trying to find the fairway between the traps (on the left) and the pine trees down the right. The bunker is probably 20 feet deep. It’s hard to get to that bunker. There’s a bit of rough there, and the way that hill sits, if you’ve pulled one, it will come up short and you can try to hook something around (the bunker). You don’t have much of a shot from down there. Depending on the wind, and if the weather is nice, you can have anything between a 6-iron to an 8- or 9-iron in. That green is very undulating. The first 15 yards of the green are really irrelevant because of those (steep, uphill) slopes. It doesn’t even feel like it’s green. You have to land it at least 15 (yards) on. If you can keep the ball just short of the back bunker, you can pretty much putt to any pin. It’s a hard two-putt if you’re not on that flat part in the back.” No. 6: 180 yards, par-3 “Juniper” Jim Furyk says: “No. 6 is interesting because if the pin is front left, you have a chance to put the ball on the green and feed it down to the hole. Back-left is almost impossible to get the ball to it. You’re going to be putting from 20 feet short and rarely do you get the putt to the hole because it’s quick and you don’t want to knock it by. That top-right pin, it’s tough to get the ball to stop on that level. For every 10 good iron shots I’ve hit at that top shelf, I’ve probably only had three or four balls stop on it. It’s probably only about 8 yards by 7 yards, at the most. A lot of that isn’t useable, because if you hit it on the back, it’s going to go over. You’re hitting to a very small area, but most guys will take a pop at it. If you miss it a little long, I’d rather have that chip or putt from back there.” No. 7: 450 yards, par-4 “Pampas” Henrik Stenson says: "It’s a hole that’s been made quite a bit longer compared to when I played my first Masters 12 years ago. Now it demands a pretty strong tee shot. The fairway is sloping a little bit from left to right so you kind of want to be just left of center, and then it’s really about distance control into the green. "The best flag to get close to is the front-right one. The one that’s tucked in the upper-right-hand corner, I wouldn’t say that’s worth going at unless you’ve got a super good yardage. I’d say it’s better to hit it where that other pin is, in that bowl, and give yourself a 20-footer uphill. "The trickiest ones are the ones on the left-hand side; if you’re left, you’re going off the green that way, and if you’re right, you’re going down into that swale we just talked about. You’ve just got to be very precise. It’s all about hitting the middle of that section. You’re most likely going to have a slick downhill putt for that front-right pin. I’ve stiffed it once or twice over the years, but that’s been either a slight mishit, or a situation where you’ve got just the right number and you’re like, 'I’ve just got to go for this.' It’s a tricky green." No. 8: 570 yards, par-5 “Yellow Jasmine” Brandt Snedeker says: "There’s a big bunker on the right side that guys are trying to avoid. An ideal shot shape is a cut off the tee but being a par-5 guys try to take it over that bunker and draw it to get a little extra distance. If you get lucky, you can get a 5- or 6-iron out of that bunker. If you’re up against the lip, you’re going to have to hit wedge out. It’s a blind second shot. You can’t really see the green. There’s some trees up on the left that you are trying to hook it around. The green is diabolical. There’s a big ridge going right through the middle of the green, dissecting it into a front half and back half. The front pin has kind of a bowl effect so guys can hit it close. The back-right pin is tough to get close to. It’s a tough two-putt just about anywhere on that green. It’s a big risk-reward par-5 because if you do overturn your second shot, you’re in trouble. If you miss it left, it’s impossible; it’s probably a 1-out-of-10 you’ll get it up-and-down. It’s all fairway between No. 8 and the ninth tee, so you have plenty of room to bail out right." No. 9: 460 yards, par-4 “Carolina Cherry” Zach Johnson (2007 Masters champion) says: “It’s a tee shot that looks fairly daunting. You can’t see where your ball ends up, but there’s a tree out in the distance that is your target. It calls for a draw because the fairway goes right-to-left, but you can still play a power-fade because it does open up on the right side. The other thing that’s hard about it is that when you get back in that little hollow back in the tee box, you don’t really feel the wind, so whatever you feel on 8, you have to remember it for 9. The second shot is on a severe downhill lie hitting severely uphill, so it’s one that with a three-tiered green, a false front, hitting it to the middle of the green is pretty good. The front pins are the hardest on that hole because it’s hard to keep it on that level. Missing it right on that hole on the second shot isn’t ideal, but isn’t that bad because you’re kind of chipping back uphill. It’s usually a driver and mid-iron for me.” No. 10: 495 yards, par-4 “Camellia” Justin Rose says: "People who haven’t been on site can’t appreciate how much it turns left and how much it goes downhill. There’s not really a massive emphasis on distance because you get a lot of help from the hill, but you have to keep it far enough left to hit the hill. If you bail out to the right at all, there’s a bit of a shelf and a plateau that holds up the ball. I don’t like to hit driver off that tee because if I hit driver I have to start it too close to the left trees. I like to take a 3-wood, start it out wide and really work it with a hook. I’m hooking it 50 yards. You almost can’t overhook it. The second shot always plays longer than it looks. That huge bunker about 60 yards short of the green messes with your depth perception. You have to trust the yardage. I’m usually hitting 5-iron to 7-iron. Coming off a slight downslope might take some distance off the ball, too, because you don’t get it as high as you want it to be. You’re always trying to leave the ball short and left of the hole. That green slopes hard back-right to front-left. If you miss too far left, then it runs off and there’s a couple trees there that are tricky. Anything missed right into that bunker is a tough up-and-down." No. 11: 505 yards, par-4 “White Dogwood” Stewart Cink says: “First of all, you deal with the fear. That’s how you start. It’s just so demanding. The fairway is so narrow that you’re just aiming for the center; even if you miss the fairway in the rough, you’re just hoping you stay between the trees. If you hit the fairway, then you have really a scary second shot. They have changed the hole slightly over the years. Everyone knows about the trees up the right side that have cut the fairway in half, but what a lot of people don’t realize is how much they’ve lowered right of the green, so if you miss to the right, you no longer have a simple pitch shot. The Larry Mize shot was just a bump-and-run that traveled across level ground and got on the green and went in the hole. Now you’re about 3-4 feet below the green there, so you have that shot uphill to a green that slopes toward the lake. It’s a very scary short-game shot from the right side of the green. You know you can’t miss right, so then the pond becomes more in play. It’s a genius move, as most of their changes are. “If you hit the fairway, which is narrow, you have a middle- or long-iron to a real demanding green with a lot of severe punishment for missing. You’re hitting from a pretty level lie, but the shot is downhill. The shot is about 8-10 yards downhill. That’s what it plays. (You can aim at) a couple of trees behind the green that look like they come out of the bunker, and when you’re hitting your approach shot you just have to decide how bold you want to be. You usually pick one of those trees, and it is like red light, yellow light, green light. You rarely ever go for a flag unless it’s on the right side and then you still have to be really disciplined. The green itself is kind of non-descript for Augusta National. It’s basically large and has one general slope, back right to front left.” No. 12: 155 yards, par-3 “Golden Bell” Jim Furyk says: "Most people don’t appreciate how skinny that green is. I think it’s only 9 yards deep over the bunker, and most guys, if the pin is right, are aiming over that bunker. Well, you’re hitting to an area that is only 9 yards deep. It’s easy to knock it over the green. Short is wet. It’s probably going to be a 5 at least. You’ll see a lot of guys hedge long. When the wind is down(wind) off that tee box, you’ll notice it gets caught in those trees and the flag actually points back at you. "There’s a lot of times where the 11th green shows a flag with downwind, and the 12th flag shows the wind at you. Of course, more often than not, you can’t trust that it’s downwind, so you play for no wind and you rip one over the green, and that’s a tough 3. For a short par 3, it’s probably the best and toughest short par-3 in golf. You have about 16 yards (of depth) on the left side to hit, so I think a lot of guys will aim there, in the center-left, but that’s no bargain to a back-right pin. There’s not a lot of safe. It’s an easy 4 from the bunkers. I’ve hit a lot of shots that I thought I hit well that ended up just over the green and you’re left scratching your head. It’s just tough to judge." No. 13: 510 yards, par-5 “Azalea” Rory McIlroy says: “You actually have quite a steep climb from the 12th green up to the 13th tee. It’s a good thing the tee is a little higher because it enables you to take it up over those trees on the left if you want to. You’re looking at a wall of pines on the right and some overhanging ones on the left. There’s a lighter-colored tree that a lot of guys try to aim at and draw it off of. Some guys go up and over the left side. It depends on conditions, but I’ll usually hit driver because that ice storm a couple years ago thinned it out on the left. The trees on the left aren’t as thick so you have a better chance of getting through them if you don’t hit a great one. Then it’s just about how much you want to take on, how much you want to risk. If you take a little more risk off the tee and you pull it off you have a much easier second shot. You’re hitting a mid- to short-iron off a flattish lie instead of a 3- or 4-iron off a real ball-above-your-feet lie. I’ve always said that the second shot at 13, no matter where you are on that hole, it’s just the prettiest. The three bunkers that frame the green, all the azaleas on the left, the tall trees, I could drop a bag of balls there and just hit balls all day into that green and love it.” No. 14: 440 yards, par-4 “Chinese Fir” Stewart Cink says: “I love 14. It’s kind of a copy of the 14th at St. Andrews, with the green, because it has a huge slope up in the front and then it all pitches away. The first half of the top shelf goes dead away from you, then the second half goes mostly left-to-right. Off the tee, there’s only one thing you’re thinking: you have to turn it right to left. The shorter hitters can hit a straight ball, but if you’re in the longer half of the field, you have to turn your ball right to left with a driver or a 3-wood. The fairway slopes left-to-right, so that further complicates the second shot because you know you have to keep it left of the hole because of the slope of the green, but the ground is encouraging your ball to go right, and you have an uphill second shot, so you have a lot of factors working against hitting it left. So many times you hit what you think is a good shot, and you see it land 5 feet right of your target, and you can see it disappear and it comes out way right, 40-50 feet right. “More often than not on 14 green, you end up with either a real simple birdie putt, pretty close, or a super hard two-putt. The sections where the holes are located are pretty small and the rest of the green is pretty severe, so if you just miss that section, it usually travels on down the green a long way, and you have a lot of putts that go up a significant hill to a little plateau. The first 20 yards of the green are not usable, are a false front.” No. 15: 530 yards, par-5 “Firethorn” Charl Schwartzel (2011 Masters champion) says: “Ideally, if you can keep the ball up the right side, the fairway slopes a little right-to-left. From the tee box, it looks like a wide fairway, but you have trees out about 330 yards that cut into the middle of the fairway from the left side. It normally leaves you around 220 to 230 yards to a really narrow green. There’s not a really good place to miss it. Long leaves you a really tough chip back toward the water, and short is in the water. Most guys go for it, though, because you have about 15-20 yards of downhill elevation, so it leaves you with a 4-iron or hybrid. At Augusta, the par-5s are the key, so you’re really trying to hit a good shot in there and give yourself a chance for eagle or birdie. The lie (on the second shot) is not that much downhill because the fairway only starts going downhill at about 400 yards. You have to take that into account on the lay-up. (The third shot) always seems to play a little farther than what you think it should. It’s one of those holes I feel it’s key to lay up to a yardage you are comfortable to. If you have a yardage that is in between clubs, you’re going to have a tough time hitting the green.” No. 16: 170 yards, par-3 “Redbud” Luke Donald says: “No. 16 is really all about the green. It’s a medium-length par 3. Certain holes, you can attack, certain ones you can’t. The ones on the top, the back-right and middle-right, are probably the toughest ones to get to. It’s such a small target. I think club selection is important. The wind tends to swirl a little bit around there. Those top pins, if you’re between clubs, you usually take less club and hit it hard. “They’ve made the back-right a touch bigger in the past few years, but it is still pretty small. From the tee, it doesn’t look like much. You can’t miss it long in that bunker. It’s almost an automatic bogey. Front pins, you want to use the (right-to-left) slope. The Sunday, back-left pin, you’re trying to land it a little right of the hole and use the slope to bring it down there. You have about 20-25 feet right of the Sunday pin that you can use (to funnel the ball toward the hole). It’s a good pin because the water is a little bit in play, and that bunker is in play, but most people are trying to hit it a little right of the pin and use the slope. You can have anywhere from 9-iron to 5- or 6-iron, if it’s into the wind to the back pin and the tee is back, it can play 190 yards.” No. 17: 440 yards, par-4 “Nandina” Jason Day says: “Even without the old Eisenhower Tree it is still a demanding tee shot. If you get a good drive away you might even have a wedge in your hand, so it is a hole that might not bring any fears but it is one you have to respect. If you add variables like weather and wind then the approach becomes tricky, as long is dead and short brings problems as well. You don’t want to kill your momentum here with a mental error. The second shot is imperative. From the fairway you can’t see the back of the green, you only see the lip of the front bunker. The depth perception makes it feel like its not very deep even though it is." No. 18: 465 yards, par-4 “Holly” Zach Johnson (2007 Masters champion) says: “It’s a tough hole. It’s very much a chute. You have more fairway on the right than it looks. It calls for a power fade off the bunker out there. Some guys can get to that bunker downwind. I can’t. The tee shot is slightly uphill. The second shot is 6-7 percent uphill, so if you have 200 yards, it plays 10-15 yards longer. The green looks really, really small to the eye from the fairway. It’s multi-tiered with a false front. Middle of the green, especially with a mid-iron, is ideal. The ball will roll back if the pin is up front. It’s hard to get up-and-down long. On average, it’s usually a 5- or 6-iron. Anywhere from 180 to 215. If the pin is on the right side of the green, being left is never bad, and vice versa. If you short-side yourself, you’re making a bogey unless you make a long putt. The front-left pin on Sunday, you don’t want to be left.”

 

08 Apr 2020


Ranking Tiger's top 10 all-time clubs

Tiger Woods' career has spanned nearly... wait for it... a quarter-century. His equipment is as talked about as anything in the game, short of his resume. But what were the individual club(s) that have fueled his epic career? What clubs played a part in the actual historic moments that demanded our attention? We dug, debated, and ultimately landed on these 10 (ranked 10 to 1). Some will be obvious, and some will be a surprise. Keep in mind that a few on this list are representations or switches in Tiger's bag that had a direct impact on his success, while others were just clubs he dominated with — either in a single moment or over a long period of time. This list could have been 50 clubs. Easily. Some clubs that aren't mentioned on this list: Woods' Nike SasQuatch driver, 3-wood, and 5-wood, his Vokey 58 (bent to 56) and 60-degree wedges from 2000, the TaylorMade Phase 1 irons he won the TOUR Championship with in 2018, and on and on. It's like trying to rank the top 10 Air Jordans from moments in MJ's career == not the coolest-looking shoes but the ones where he did something great. It's almost impossible. We did our best, and we hope you enjoy where we landed. Here we go. 10. Nike T40 Tour 5-wood The Nike T40 was the first 5-wood Tiger ever put into competitive action. This was also the first time we saw Tiger start to routinely bring 15 clubs to a tournament and rotate the clubs in his bag based on playing conditions and course setup with either the 2-iron or the 5-wood being called into action. The Nike T40 was considered a mid-sized fairway wood at the time, and the key design element of the club was the 40-gram tungsten plug directly in the middle of the sole to help lower the center of gravity, increase launch, and improve forgiveness. The 5-wood has become a mainstay in Tiger's bags since the original T40, and the 2-iron has all but disappeared the last few years in favor of an easier-to-flight option. The current club of choice for Woods is a TaylorMade M3 with a Mitsubishi Chemical Diamana D+ 80 TX White shaft. 9. King Cobra Deep Face Driver This particular model first caught steam at the 1993 Open Championship when Greg Norman lit up Royal St. George’s on the final day with a 64 to win his second Claret Jug. At the time, Cobra was in a transition, having rebranded to the "King Cobra" label and upped its presence. Fast forward a year when Tiger began dabbling with the Cobra driver. The first models he tried were not the ones with which he ultimately took over the golf world. The model that made history (1996 U.S. Amateur and 1997 Masters), was a special setup made specifically by Cobra for Tiger with a "bore through" shaft. According to legend, the idea was that having the shaft go all the way through would increase stability to support Tigers 130-plus MPH swing speeds. Specs Loft: 9 degrees Length: 43.5 inches (finished with grip) Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 (tipped to length with bore through) Swing weight: D4 Grip: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord 58R 8. TaylorMade P7TW 8-iron It may seem odd to most, but this club, especially in the final round of the 2019 Masters, was the one that did the most work — and arguably the most damage. Tiger hit nine 8-iron approach shots on Sunday at Augusta, two of which represented the beginning of his chase (8-iron into the seventh for a birdie) and the door-slammer (8-iron into the 16th). Tiger's specs on this club are as precise as you would imagine. Specs Loft: 40.5 degrees Length: 36 5/16" (finished with grip) Lie: 63.5 degrees Shaft: Dynamic Gold X100 (tipped 1/4") Swing Weight: D4 Grip: Golf Pride BCT 58R 7. Titleist 681T 2-iron In the early Tiger days, this club was as much a tool for Tiger as it was an intimidation stick. On any golf course, Tiger could pull thus club and hit a variety of shots the distance that the average PGA TOUR player was hitting his 3-wood, and in some cases, driver. And, oh yeah, the "stingers" this club produced were legendary. Arguably, the most notable 2-iron from this time was the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. Coming down the stretch, Tiger hit a frozen rope 2-iron into the 13th hole from 263 yards that set up a birdie and all but secured his three-shot victory over Phil Mickelson. Specs Loft: 19 degrees Length: 39.5" Lie: 60 degrees Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 (tipped 1/4") Swing weight: D4 Grip: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord 58R 6. Titleist 975D driver The Titleist 975D is the driver that, to this day, stayed in the bag the longest of any driver Tiger ever used. The 975D debuted in 1998 and was a big success on TOUR and with amateur players. Even as more and more professionals on the PGA TOUR transitioned to larger heads with graphite shafts, Tiger stuck it out with a 43.5-inch True Temper Dynamic Gold X100-shafted 260cc driver and remained one of the longest players. As driver head volume grew to over 400cc in the early 2000s, Tiger was reluctant to switch and used the 975D all the way until the 2002 season when he finally switched to a Nike Forged Titanium driver. Woods stayed with the steel shaft for a number of years after that. 5. Nike Fastback 60-degree wedge The 2005 Masters was the scene. Final round. 16th hole. From the back left of the 16th green, Tiger (with his 60-degree Nike wedge in hand) ran his ball up the side of the hill past the flag, and in a moment that seemed to last forever, the ball gingerly crept back down the hill, perched on the edge of the cup for an eternal couple of second, and slipped into the hole. Some say this was Woods' best shot ever, and it's hard to argue that point. This wedge, built and ground by the famous Mike Taylor, was front and center. Specs Loft: 60 degrees Length: 35 3/16" (finished with grip) Lie: 64 degree Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 Swing weight: D4 Grip: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord 58R Notes: This wedge featured a square sole, flatter camber, and 10 degrees of bounce. Three exact models were made for Tiger in February of 2005 4. Mizuno combo set: MP 14 and MP 29 Looking back at Tiger's first major win, the 1997 Masters, his golf bag was very different than it is today. Yet one thing remains the same: forged blades. The irons Tiger used during that record-breaking win were a mixed set of Mizuno irons consisting of two different Mizuno blade models: the MP 14 and MP 29. The reason for the mixed set of irons was a slight difference in the offset progression between the two sets, and Tiger chose the irons from each model that offered the least amount of offset. The MP 29 irons had a reverse-offset progression that offered less offset in the longer irons and more offset into the shorter irons — something that is much less common today. The MP 14 irons had a standard progression of more offset into the longer irons and less into the shorter clubs. The result was a mixed set MP 29 2-iron through 4-iron and MP-14 5-iron to pitching wedge. This is a key example of Tiger's exacting eye for getting his specs just right. To put this in perspective, this particular iron set was used to win all three of his U.S. Amateur titles (94, 95, 96), his first six professional wins, and his first major. Interestingly, the specs of these clubs are almost spot on to the lofts and lies he uses to this very day. 3. Titleist 970 3-wood Beyond the famous Scotty Cameron Newport 2 putter, the Titleist PT (970) fairway wood could be the club most synonymous with Tiger Woods and some of his most famous shots. The deep face satin steel look of the Titleist PT made it easy to recognize, and from a design perspective in an era of quickly evolving technology in fairway woods Tiger, much like with the 975D driver, stuck it out with a steel shaft and small head shape for a long time. This was the tool used to hit perhaps his best 3-wood shot ever, the famous, "That the one you're talking about?" at the 2000 Open on the 14th hole at St. Andrews during the third round from 281 yards. The 3-wood was his only fairway wood for a long time, and the next club in his set was always a 2-iron. This meant having to execute a lot of shots with that single club. One of the benefits of the Titleist PT, when you are one of the best players of all time, is that for what it lacked in overall forgiveness, it offered extreme workability. Tiger took full advantage of it. 2. Scotty Cameron Teryllium Newport The final two spots were reserved for putters. With all the talk of his power and precision iron play, it's the flat stick that demoralized his competition more than anything. The ridiculous amount of key 5-footers, long bombs and everything in between. Tiger Woods' relationship with these two Scotty Cameron putters is no different than Harry Potter to his wand or a Jedi to his lightsaber. Alone they are strong; with them, they are unstoppable. Most people know about the Newport 2, but the other famous Scotty Cameron Tiger used is the Teryllium Newport that he used to win the Masters in 1997. Tiger once famously said in an interview years ago when talking about all the clubs around his house, "My kids can play with any clubs, but they know there are two clubs they can't touch and it’s this putter (referring to his Newport 2) and the putter I won the Masters with." The difference between the Newport versus the Newport 2 model, which has now become famous, is the rounded bumpers and slightly shorter blade length compared to the more squared-off shape of the Newport 2. The other big feature of the Newport is the Teryllium insert and elastomer backing that helps reduce vibration. The back cavity is an iconic part of the design and was recently brought back by Cameron for the release of the T22 series of putters. This particular model was also the first sighting of the "Tiger dot" for alignment. In this case, Tiger blacked out the sightline and had Scotty drill a white dot on the top line. 1. Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS The Scotty Cameron Newport 2 GSS that Tiger has used since early in the 1999 season has been most the most talked-about piece of golf equipment in the last 50 years. The tri-sole design and very recognizable red lettering have been with Tiger for 14 of his 15 major wins and 66 of his 82 PGA TOUR victories. Getting a face-on look at it now, you can not only see the incredible wear mark in the upper middle part of the sweet spot of this particular putter but also the face of actual golf history. Specs (note: with the age of the putter these specs may be +/-) Loft: 3.75 degrees Length: 35.25 (finished with grip) Lie: 70 degrees Head weight: 327 grams Grip: Ping Man (Black Out)

 

08 Apr 2020


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