Howard and I left Myrtle Beach on Friday about noon and made our way back to Augusta. I had been invited to spend the evening at the house Colin Byrne (Ernie Els’s caddie) was staying in and Dave McNielly (Matteo Manassero’s caddie) has coming over for dinner. At least I was going to get a chance to visit with some of my caddie mates before the week was over. I arrived at the house in time to watch Matt play the last two holes of his second round. I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat when his birdie putt on 18 slipped by and with it his chance to play on the weekend. All of us that were supporting Matt were disappointed and I’m sure Matt was upset with the final result on the day but missing the cut by only one shot in your first Masters is hardly a defeat. And he had some pretty good company on that score with the like of Ernie Els and some of golf’s other top players missing the weekend by one. I spoke to Matt in the morning and we made arrangements to do a practice round at Hilton head on Sunday. I’m hoping the people at Sea Pines are a little more embracing of foot diversity then there counterparts in Augusta. I packed up my stuff and made my way to Hilton Head Island. I got just out side Augusta when I spotted a sign promising public golf. I turned off the main road and a mile later I was at The New Ellenton Golf course. The Lady that owed the place took my 15 dollars and said I could play all day if I wanted. She apologized in advance for the few bare patches on the greens and told me it was do to the lack of Rain. “I rely on city water which is expensive and they won’t let me dig a well so there’s not much I can do about it. She said. “Let me know if you know anyone that wants to buy the place. I’m ready to retire” She added. I told her I was trying to do the same and headed to the 1st tee. I caught up to the only other group on the course on the second hole and a guy with no front teeth and a Hardees hamburger hat on ask if I want to play through. I was off. I played two balls on every hole and was standing on the 18th tee in less then 3 hours. It was a shame about the water situation because she has sitting on a beautiful sand based piece of land with lovely rolling hills. Even as it was, there were three great holes one of them being a par three you’d be happy to play anywhere. There were places on that course where one could think you were on Sunningdale or Royal Melbourne or any of the other great sandbelt/heathland courses. How short sited are the local authorities? Give the owner a well and this place could be a real asset to the community bring people and money in from all over the place. It’s amazing how most people are unaware of how transformative a golf course can be to a place. Even a nine holer.
I hadn’t driven the ball that great but had played pretty good by the time I got to the last. But I hit a beautiful 3 wood right down the middle on 18 followed up by a solid wedge shot. Unfortunately I missed clubbed (does anyone know where I can find a decent caddie) and ended up in the front right trap. But that next shot was one to behold. I hit the most perfect, tour grade bunker shot you could ever hope to hit. Good enough to give you that warm fizzy feeling. Good enough to let me fool myself into thinking “I still got it!” With no one for a mile around to watch me I instinctively gave it the big Tiger woods fist pump in the air. If the woman in the shop was watching through the blinds she must have had a good chuckle to herself. But there you have it. It’s a crazy game played by crazy people but that ladies and gentlemen, is the heart of the game.
After a large bucket of balls and an hour on the chipping green Howard and I headed to the 1st tee of our less then august par 3 course. The greens were pretty ropey and we were hitting off mats but I don’t think we could have had more fun if we were playing at Augus. ….. I mean, Pebble Beach. I won’t go into any great detail about our match apart from saying that Howard was insisting on going straight to the bar after the round.
And we did. As far as Matt’s round goes I’m sure he’s a little disappointed but that’s not that bad an opener. It’s quite good in fact, considering it’s his 1st competitive round around that course. With good solid play today he can easily get through to the weekend.
We enjoyed the golf and there were some great shots played around a very difficult course but listening to the broadcast was almost unbearable. I have never heard such a load of unadulterated crap in all my life. From the sound of things you would think Augusta National was heaven on earth. Now I’m not saying that it’s not a good track or that the Masters isn’t a great tournament but “heaven on earth” I don’t think so. I know two better courses in the State of Georgia alone. Both East Lake and Atalanta Athletic Club just up the road in Atlanta are better tracks. And when I was with Johan Edfors at the PGA at Atlanta Athletic Club just a couple of years ago I can tell you without a word of a lie that that was the best conditioned golf course I had ever seen in 30 plus years of caddying. There’s no doubt that Augusta National is a good course but if someone gave me a 20 free passes to any courses in America, Augusta National wouldn’t make the list. It’s just not on the same level as Baltusrol, Wingfoot, Cypress Point (sorry Ian) or 20 other great courses in this country. And I haven’t started in on the great links course in the UK or the sandbelt courses in Melbourne. Augusta’s good but it not great. Sorry.
And they go on and on about the history of the tournament ad nauseum. If you want real history you need go no farther then The Open Championship which was 1st played in 1860. Now that’s history! And the US Open wasn’t exactly started yesterday. I’m sorry but yet again the Masters doesn’t hold up to the other majors.
You might think this is sour grapes. Well, you are right. I have never liked Augusta and my experience this week has only gone to confirm what I already knew. There is a fine line between trying to get everything as good as it can be and out right elitism. I think we all know what side of that line the greenjackets have landed. For me Augusta is nothing but a snobatorium extolling the worst elements of club golf. Give me a crappy little par 3 course anytime. It says more about real golf then Augusta ever could.
Having said all that, I wish Matt the best of luck in his round today and I’ll be watching with great interest.
Matt tees off at 10 41 am today at Augusta. I’ll be teeing off about the same time at the par 3 course here in Myrtle beach. I know Matt is excited about his round but I’m equally looking forward to mine. I think that’s part of what makes this game so great. As much fun as it is to watch a great tournament unfold the true pleasure is in playing the game. I’ll be doing a bit of both today. My mate Howard and I are heading off to our little course now and then will spend the afternoon watching the golf in a local sports bar. I hope by the time we get there Matt has posted a good one. I know how good a player he is and I’m really hoping he can play as well as he did at the Open last summer. Of course, all of you will be dying to know how I played today as well, so I’ll let you know if I manage a couple of pars. Howard is actually a bit concerned about our up coming match as I had six twos in a row on the back nine yesterday closing him out on the 15th hole. If anyone is interested, we were both playing in sandals. The local authorities didn’t seem too concerned. That’s my kind of place.
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This blog, unfortunately, is coming to a rather abrupt end. I will not be caddying for Matt in the Masters this year. I went to speak to the powers that be at Augusta National about alternative foot wear that would allow me to get through the week but my inquires were met with a resounding “No”. I spoke to the head person there who is about as bright as a post and about as malleable as one . My feet were so sore after one practice round in runners that I had no alternative but to withdraw my services.
I wish Matt all the success in the world this week and I will be watching with great anticipation from a safe distance with my feet propped up on some bar stool. With a bit of luck they will recover in time to work for Matt down in Hilton head next week.
That’s it. Thanks so much to everyone for your kind words and support during our trip. I really enjoyed all this and I hope you did as well. Be well my friends and perhaps we’ll meet up again some where down the road.
Day Eleven. And they said it couldn’t be done but there she is in all her glory.
A picture says a thousands words. What a trip. I’ve gone 2,636 miles since leaving Phoenix and I really can’t believe the old Caddy made it. Well, all my hitchhikers this is where I let you off. I hope you enjoyed the ride. It was great having you along and I hope you enjoy the tournament.
Day Ten. Long day. On the road by 8 am and drove till 7 pm. Passed from Louisiana to Alabama and from Alabama in to Georgia. Two more states down. Found a motel in Fort Valley and went strait out for dinner and made it an early night. Tomorrow’s the big day! My quest is near it’s end.