Meet the Brits who’ve experienced the magic of Augusta first hand.
What were your first impressions as you walked through the gates for the first time?
Paul Simms (PS): Wow! I just wanted to get my clubs out and start hitting some balls.
Micky Page (MP): My mouth was wide open. It was unbelievable. I thought to myself if I died, it’s not a bad way to go!
Dan Nickless (DN): I was fortunate to be driven up Magnolia Lane by a player I know well (David Lynn) and it was like a dream, especially when the clubhouse appeared at the end of the trees. Actually, I got to go into the clubhouse and the champions’ locker room, then sit on the balcony and have a club sandwich and a beer with some of the players!
Andrew Harding (AH): Speechless. It’s unforgettable – the place is simply perfect from the moment you walk in to the moment you leave.
How would you compare the Masters to other tournaments you’ve been to?
PS: There can be no comparison. For starters, there are fewer people, so you’ve got better viewing opportunities.
MP: It’s the best-run tournament I’ve been to. There are no hidden extra costs either: you can get your Masters chair, leave it by a green and when you return it’ll still be there.
DN: It’s the most perfect tournament week ever and though I adore the Open and it will always be my number one, it’s like a circus compared to The Masters.
AH: There is nothing that compares to Augusta National with perhaps the exception of the Old Course in St Andrews. The magic and beauty of Augusta National sets it apart.
Where did you watch most of the action?
PS: Holes 4, 7, 16 (definitely my favourite) and behind the 18th green.
MP: I spent an hour or two on the practice ground and at a few different holes, including the par-3 16th where during a practice round I ran into Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk and Fred Couples attempting to skim balls over the lake and onto the green.
DN: We walked down to the 12th hole and got a seat right at the front. We watched them hitting into 11 and sat five yards away, supping a beer as they hit into the 12th.
AH: Behind the 11th tee is a great spot for viewing and it’s not far to go for a beer either. Watching the best players in the world tee off on the 11th with a cold beer in your hand is pretty much as good as life gets.
What was the highlight of your week?
PS: The whole atmosphere gives you a buzz, but the roar of the crowds for every birdie and eagle must be heard to be believed.
MP: Seeing golfing legends, past and present, hitting all kinds of different types of shots on the range.
DN: Having lunch in the clubhouse, walking the course inside the ropes on the Sunday before the tournament, and getting to see my great friend David shoot -5 on his debut.
AH: Due to the limited number of ‘patrons’ that are allowed in each day it has the best viewing of any of the Major tournaments. Also, the members walk around in their green jackets and that is just surreal.
Any major surprises about the course?
PS: How small some of the greens are compared to how big they look on TV – and just how much variation in elevation there is across the whole course (the drop from the clubhouse to the 12th green is the same height as the Statue of Liberty).
MP: I was surprised how wide the fairways were compared to the Open Championship courses, though the 18th is incredibly tight off the tee – it’s like firing down a tunnel.
DN: How undulating it is. I have no idea how the guys shoot 63s round there!
AH: John Daly camping in his motorhome in the car park at Hooters and selling and signing memorabilia was a huge shock!
Was there anything unexpected about the event itself?
PS: The cost of food and drink was far cheaper than we expected and in comparison to what we charge over here, we could definitely learn a lesson or two. It’s about $1.50 for a sandwich and $3 for a beer! Another thing that was unexpected was how they clean up on the practice range after each player has finished his routine before the next player comes out. Everything was just so immaculate.
MP: Everything is pristine. So much so that if you see a piece of paper floating around, it makes you just want to pick it up.
DN: I had huge expectations. I had spoken to a lot of people about how great it was and it fulfilled and surpassed all expectations by a long way. If you are a golf fan you MUST go and even if you don’t particularly like watching golf, the Masters is very different and you can play some amazing courses nearby during the week. My only regret is waiting so long.
If any TG readers are lucky enough to be going, do you have any tips?
PS: Wear sensible shoes as you will be on your feet for a long time.
MP: Hay fever sufferers beware: on the 13th hole I’ll never forget seeing what turned out to be a cloud of pollen, resulting in different coloured shoes.
DN: Walk as much of the course as you can, see every hole and go to the range. Oh, and visit the nearby Hooters, too!
AH: Wear trainers – it’s a really hard walk.