Nothing quite prepares you for the thrill of seeing Augusta National up close and personal
12 observations from my first day at The Masters
The 1st fairway looks pretty flat on TV. It isn’t. You can barely see the fairway bunker on the right of the hole from the crossing point. I always knew it was a difficult hole, but I didn’t appreciate just how difficult it was until I saw it with my own eyes.
The grass is like no other grass I’ve ever seen. It makes a very distinctive sound as you walk on it and it looks and feels a bit like Astroturf. Quite incredible.
I now understand why players find it so difficult to read the wind on the 12th hole. At one point, the flag on 11 was blowing hard back towards the fairway, but I felt a clear cross breeze where I was standing behind the 12th tee, and the 12th flag wasn’t moving at all. At another point, the flag on 12 was blowing but the 11th was completely still. And another thing: you genuinely have no idea where the ball is going to land until it hits ground.
The 18th fairway is so narrow and the hole plays so steeply uphill it’s untrue. The same can be said for the 9th green. You can only see the top of the flag from the driving area when the pin is on the middle tier.
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The 10th green always looks brutally undulating on the television, but it’s actually not too bad in real life. It certainly took me by surprise.
Augusta National is like paradise. It’s better than you could possibly imagine and the conditioning is absolutely incredible. I looked hard and couldn’t find a single blade of grass or pinecone out of place. There was a deluge on Monday but I only came across two boggy areas. At one, I overheard a man say “unacceptable” in clear jest with a beaming smile on his face.
The bunkers on 7 are treacherous. The trap at the front of the green has to be at least eight feet deep and if you find sand behind the green, you’re dead if the pin is on the back tier.
The 11th hole is a monster, and it’s even narrower than you think. From my vantage point, the fairway looked no more than 20 yards wide at its most generous point.
The queue for Masters merchandise is insane. If you don’t go first or last thing, you’ll be waiting for hours. And I mean hours.
Bubba’s shot on 10 during the play-off in 2012 was extraordinary. I stood exactly where he hit it from and I have no idea how he pulled it off.
Curtis Luck looks like a fantastic player. Not only that, he’s flamboyant. I watched him hit a driver off the deck on the 8th and pull off a ridiculous short flop shot from behind the 9th green. Don’t be surprised if he does something special this week.
If there’s a roar from anywhere on the course, you can hear it. The cheers reverberate through the towering trees and create a special atmosphere.
Attend The 2018 Masters with Your Golf Travel – visit yourgolftravel.com/us-masters Experiences including flights, hotels & tickets are available. Nick Bonfield travelled to the 2017 Masters courtesy of Your Golf Travel.