Golf Blog

2017 Masters

A week before The 2017 Masters, I received a text message with an offer to attend a practice round and the Par 3 contest at Augusta.  It didn't take long for me to reply and pack my bags.  The first thing I put in that bag was my camera.  You are permitted to bring cameras on the course for practice rounds at Augusta!  

Upon our arrival, we decided to check out the scene on Washington Road.  Washington Road is the same road where John Daly hangs out at Hooters and sells T-shirts and fancy pants.  Naturally we stopped by.  I passed on taking a picture with big John, as I felt weird about a two time major winner ringing up hat sales.

With the Z on the end, it sounds pretty official official to me.

With the Z on the end, it sounds pretty official official to me.

After some corn hole and various other shenanigan type things, we found Magnolia Lane on the map and decided to take some photos like a couple of delinquent teenagers.  

Now normally, we would have been stoked out of our minds for The Masters in the morning, but we had been staring at the forecast below for the past 72 hours.  We were still stoked, but just more of an angry at the rain gods type stoked.

Don't worry, the TERS on the other side of the sign worked just fine.

Don't worry, the TERS on the other side of the sign worked just fine.

Lighting not ideal for late night photo operations.

Lighting not ideal for late night photo operations.

With a mild stroke of luck, the rain would hold off and the gates to Augusta National would open.  We gleefully entered and strolled the grounds.  Knowing that we would only have an hour or so before the storms rolled in, we headed out to the hot spots.  

I was able to get some pretty good shots and the sun actually came out for a full 90 seconds while we were on #13.

To view all of my photos and my top 11 Augusta list, click here.

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After a couple of hours, the weather horns would sound and we would be given the boot.  However, after a several hour delay, the course would re open and we would come rushing back. As you can see, people were excited to return.

Just as the Par 3 Contest was getting underway, the horn would sound again and we would be given the heave from Augusta National for the day.  This was the first time in 50 years, the Par 3 contest was cancelled due to weather.

All was not lost though, Snoop Dogg was in town to play some golf and give a little rap show.  Be sure to click the link to get the Golf Digest Recap.

Note:  When I say catch his flight, I mean watch Delta fumble around and cancel flights for 2 days: Summary: Masters good, Snoop cool, Delta bad.

The Snoop Dogg set offers up a range of songs from Journey to Gin and Juice.

The Snoop Dogg set offers up a range of songs from Journey to Gin and Juice.

Before our flight out of town, our group headed up to the fantastic Champions Retreat Golf Club.  Located only about a half hour away from Augusta, Sean of Breaking Eighty even had time to hole out from 170 yards for eagle before catching his flight back to Portland.  

Sean Ogle celebrates the 3rd eagle of his lifetime..

Sean Ogle celebrates the 3rd eagle of his lifetime..

The 2017 Masters Picks

There comes a time every year in March when I drop everything that I am doing and say "Holy Shit, The Masters is in 15 days, 3 hours, 12 minutes, and 42 seconds."  Sure enough, its my biological golf clock kicking into gear for the season.  After some brief homework and careful consideration, I present my selections for the 2017 Masters.

  • Bubba Watson - These days, I make my picks for Bubba based on the color of ball he plays.  This one is tough as we won't know if Bubba's pink and white swirl order will be delivered by Thursday.  Projection: Ehh
  • Phil Mickelson - With Phil's trending performance this year on and around the greens, he will play nicely at The National.  Phil will stand a chance to win if he can find the fairway with consistency.  Either way, Phil will deliver a riveting Sunday post round interview in which he mentions being inspired by this very pjkoenig blog post.  Projection: T-3rd
  • Ricky Fowler - While trying to escape tree trouble on 10, Ricky suffers an unfortunate injury to the groin on a White Dogwood ricochet.  Fortunately, State Farm is on site to turn his misfortune into a series of highly entertaining advertisements. Projection: Solo 16th
  • Dustin Johnson - With DJ's ascension up the OWGR golf ladder complete, he reaches another high with a course record 62 on Friday.  Unable to maintain his mojo, we watch DJ's lead slowly slip away over the weekend only to be overtaken on the 72nd hole.  Distraught by the events, Paulina Gretzky posts bikini photo on Instagram. Projection: 25.6k likes / Runner Up.
  • Rory Mcilroy - Still looking to banish his 2011 Masters' demons, McIlroy and Spieth hold a demon seance on the 10th green at midnight on Wednesday.  Rosemary's Baby is in attendance along with that demon girl from The Ring. Projection: 60% demon reduction / T2.
  • Tiger Woods:  A recent twitter poll found that the opening of Jurassic Park was more likely than a Tiger start at the 2017 Masters.  Projection: DNP

 

  • Jimmy Walker - Jimmy Walker misses the cut, meets up with Johnny Walker immediately afterwards. BAC Projection: .15%
  • Stewart Hagestad - With Vegas giving Hagestad 2000/1 odds, the most likely scenario is that Stewart hires Fred Couples to wear a Stewart Hagestad mask and play the tournament in alternate disguises.  After the scandal is uncovered Saturday morning, everyone still loves Fred Couples.  Hagestad and Couples are permitted to finish under the little known "Hilarious Masters Pranks Clause" Projection: Hagestad: T52 Couples: T32.
  • Hideki Matsuyama - After hitting a perfect 3 iron into 15, Hideki holes out for double eagle on Saturday.  Disgusted with the shot, he throws his entire golf bag into the lake and is unable to finish.  Projection: DQ
  • Andrew "Beef" Johnston - After a sluggish start, Beef gains momentum by putting his curly fry headcover and Arby's hat into play on the weekend.  Although he has the beef, Beef doesn't have the birdies to seriously contend.  Projection: Delicious
  • Jordan Spieth - With one win under his belt and fresh off his Wednesday night demon seance, Ole Spiethy is one of the favorites coming into Augusta this year.  If that putter gets hot, not even the 12th hole can stop this man.  Jordan's Scotty Cameron explodes into flames as he holes the winning putt on Sunday and the golf demons are released into the sky.  Projection: Masters Champion
  • Justin Thomas - This kid is no longer on Spring Break and he is here to seriously contend in this year's Masters.  Even though JT fades on his Sunday back nine, Justin and Ricky build a 2 man shirtless pyramid on the 18th green to honor their spring break bretheren's Masters' victory.  Projection: T4

Bonus Masters Graph Section

Ian Poulter Analytics

Projected Ball Count

Augusta Demon Distribution

"Phase 2" Tiger

With about 500,000 blog entries, online posts, and articles written about Tiger Woods since he last hit a competitive golf shot, let's face it, you're still gonna read one more.  Here is my take on The Big Cat.

As a 36 year old, I grew up playing golf and watching Tiger Woods... and when I say watching, I mean screaming loudly at my TV as I watched him pull off shot after shot of magic.  Even as a youngster, with very little frame of reference, I knew this was an amazing time to be alive.  In fact, I would yell those very words at my television.

If you take some time to watch those shots, you will find that Tiger was apparently able to will the golf ball into the hole with his mind!  Did you see that putt on 18 at the 2008 US Open?  How could you "Expect anything different?"  What about that chip at the 2005 Masters?  Or when he raised the roof at the biggest party in golf?  Tiger is not simply "Better than most," he is the best. 

Bob May remembers this finger point well.

Bob May remembers this finger point well.

Rocco Mediate felt the sting of this scream.

Rocco Mediate felt the sting of this scream.

I mean, you'd have to be a damned fool to believe that Tiger Woods will not win another golf tournament, or another major, before his time is done, right?  Unfortunately, over the past several years, Tiger has given us reason to doubt.  We have all seen the timelines, the injuries, the missed cuts.  The fall from grace and the time away from the game was tough for Tiger fans.

Things headed the wrong way for Tiger Woods at the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay.

Things headed the wrong way for Tiger Woods at the 2015 US Open at Chambers Bay.

Not all Victory Red days, end in victory

Not all Victory Red days, end in victory

But even as the 898th ranked player in the world, I continue to believe.  There is a reason that Tiger still continues to command a tremendous audience.  There is a reason that "Tiger hits a chip shot" will always outperform "Pampling wins on the PGA Tour for the 1st time in 10 years."  The last time we saw a comeback of a similar magnitude, he came in T4th at The Masters.  We all know deep down, you simply can't count this man out.

I think most of us can agree that with this recent injury, that would have ended the career of any normal athlete, the days of total Tiger domination are beyond us.  But with a long pause, I believe Tiger has taken the appropriate amount of time to consult with the golden rule.

You better check yourself before you wreck yourself.
— Golden Rule

Even though there is a bit of humor in that last quote, I can't force myself to believe anything else.  The world's most glorious golfing mind has certainly found a way to embrace his age, leverage his ego, and tap into his tremendous passion to win.  I am very excited to watch it all begin to unfold this Thursday and I am more than ready to yell "What a great time to be alive" at my TV again.

A First Timer's Visit to The Masters

When I was 12 years old I watched my first Masters on television.  At the time, I had barely picked up a golf club and I figured that courses like Augusta National were something that I was only allowed to see on television.  That all changed when I was the lucky winner of 2 Saturday tickets in the Masters "lottery" for the 2016 Masters.  I decided to bring my friend John, he was ecstatic and so was I. The plan was to golf, watch golf, golf some more, and then watch some more golf.  Sleep was not figured into the agenda.

The 2016 Masters agenda started off on Friday with a 36 hole golf fest at Reynold's Plantation located in nearby Greensboro, GA.  My golf buddy John and I got up early to play the Great Waters and The Landing courses.  We took great pleasure in knowing that just down the road, the world's best were playing in the same windy conditions that we endured.  After wrapping up 36, we hurried off to bed like a couple of kids on Christmas eve.  In the morning we would be headed to The Masters for the first time.

Having obsessively watched and read about The Masters tournament and Augusta National over the years, I felt that I had a pretty good idea of what to expect and just as I expected, my expectations would be exceeded.  Parking at The Masters is free as the lot is actually owned by Augusta National. We were able to find a parking spot with relative ease.   We popped a quick selfie to document that we actually made it to The National, (that's what the locals call it), and since no phones are allowed inside, we left our gadgets behind and headed into the gates.

The only photo taken on Augusta property captures the excitement.    Holderness and Bourne    polo ensures that I am looking sharp!

The only photo taken on Augusta property captures the excitement. Holderness and Bourne polo ensures that I am looking sharp!

There had been discussions as if I would actually weep when I first laid my eyes upon the grounds of Augusta.  Fortunately, I was able to hold it together.

We had conveniently arrived 7 hours before the leaders (Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth) would tee off.  This provided us just the right amount of time to walk the back nine and play some virtual golf, we used our imaginations instead of our golf clubs.  After taking a quick glimpse of 18 green and muttering a few dumbfounded phrases, we headed down #10 to hit our imaginary tee shots.

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 First Impressions:

  • Augusta National is much larger and more spacious than it appears on television. Everything will make sense once you see it.

  • The television coverage does not adequately capture the scale of the elevation changes and slopes.

  • Amen Corner is just as glorious as I had pictured it in my dreams.

  • Scoreboards are everywhere and actually add a great deal of atmosphere to the course.

  • The place smells different. A mixture of pine, bbq sandwiches and freshly cut grass. Somebody should make an "Augusta" pine tree air freshener.

  • People are super nice and extra polite at The Masters. Just being at Augusta National brings out the best in everyone.

  • The tees and greens are much closer to each other than I had imagined. The Mackenzie architecture is very enjoyable.

  • Since the course was configured with the patrons in mind, there are many great places to watch live golf.

One of my favorite policies at Augusta National is in regards to the seating. If you decide to bring your own chair, you can place it wherever you would like on the property and then carry on exploring the rest of the golf course. When you come back, your chair will be waiting for you. Someone may be sitting in it, but just let them know that this is your seat and they will gladly pop up in an instant and thank you for your kind and sharing spirit. Again, people are super nice and extra polite at The Masters.

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After carding a virtual 41 and 39 on the back nine (I holed out for bogey on 15).  It was time to watch the pros play actual golf.  While there are many great spots to take in the action at Augusta National, here are some of my favorite spots on the property.

  • Hole #6: As is the case with most holes, you can get right next to the players as they hit their tee shots into the drastically downhill par 3. We watched Hunter Mahan come 1 foot from making an ace. We groaned.

  • Hole #16: We snatched up a couple of chairs on the hillside. From this vantage point you can watch all of the action on the par 3 as well as the play on 15 green. We saw some birdies and a couple of "other" scores. One of the best vantage points in all of golf.

  • Amen Corner: From the unique arrangement, you can watch the action on 11, 12, and 13 all from one spot. I knew this coming in but was surprised to find it actually was all "right in front of you." Golf Digest's Ashley Mayo informs me that there is an area behind 12 green where there are no cameras or microphones. Players take this opportunity to vocalize their frustrations.

  • #2 green: You are right in the middle of the front nine and will get to watch a fair number of eagle putts.

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While I was most excited to watch the golf and see the course, I was also looking forward to getting my hands on the reasonably priced concessions. Here are your Selections at The Masters.

  • Masters BBQ Sandwich: Classic deliciousness, will repeat. Consumption total: 1.

    • Consumption total: 2

    • Grade: 9/10

    • Price: $3.00

  • Masters Pimento Cheese: After much hoopla, this crowd favorite let me down.

    • Consumption total: 1

    • Grade: weird/disgusting

    • Price: $1.50

  • Masters Egg Salad Sandwich: Oh ho man, Egg salad is the leader in the clubhouse:

    • Consumption total: 2

    • Grade: 9.5/10

    • Price: $1.50

  • Masters Cookies: I went with the chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin. I love cookies.

    • Consumption total: 5

    • Grade: 9.4/10

    • Price: $1.50

  • Masters Georgia Peach: Peach yogurt in between sugar cookies. A slice of golf heaven and your Selections at The Masters champion.

    • Consumption total: 1

    • Grade: 9.6/10

    • Price: $2.00

  • Masters Carrots: Health effort that was met with curious looks:

    • Consumption total: 1 bag.

    • Grade: 7/10

    • Price: $1.00

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Other things that happened at The Masters:

  • We convinced Ashley Mayo that Shaquille O Neal just walked by her at Amen Corner.

  • Plots to break into the exclusive Berkman's Place were conceived. We pinpointed it's location on the map but no action was taken.

  • When Jordan Spieth hit his drive right on #17. We capitalized by making our first Master's television appearance. That was me in the yellow pants.

  • We estimated that we'd probably hit #12 green only once out of every 6 attempts.

  • We annointed Rory McIlroy the winner of the "Tighest golf shirt" contest.

  • We exceeded our golf shop budget. Not only do I recommend establishing a healthy budget, I also recommend exceeding that budget. Coffee mugs and hats for everyone!

  • We drank from the fountain on 17 in hopes that the mystical water would lower our handicaps.

  • The bathroom attendant informed me that "A stall does it all" as he rapidly ushered patrons through the men's restroom.

Lee Wybranski makes some mighty fine posters.

Lee Wybranski makes some mighty fine posters.

Plenty of great options in the golf shop. Get a head start on 2016 Xmas shopping.

Plenty of great options in the golf shop. Get a head start on 2016 Xmas shopping.

After spending approximately 12 hours on the grounds at Augusta National, we were ushered off of the property and left the course changed men.  This was easily one of the most enjoyable days of my golfing life.  A big thanks to every one who played a part in my 1st day at The Masters.

On Masters Sunday, I like to golf in the AM and Masters watch in the PM.  We teed off at the somewhat nearby Sea Island Golf Club and headed to a local restaurant to watch the conclusion of the Masters.  Golf fans will know what happened next as we tuned in to CBS.

As a Jordan Spieth fan, I was shocked to watch the events that unfolded.  However, I was inspired to see how Jordan reacted and I look forward to his response over the long term.  As golfers and humans, we can all learn a lot by watching this 22 year old.  We also learned quite a bit about the 2016 Masters champion, Danny Willett.  With an outstanding final round, Willett won the Masters just as much as Spieth gave it away.

I will look forward to returning to Augusta and The Masters.  Perhaps a practice round, where I can take pictures!

UPDATE: I made a return visit to Augusta National during a practice round in 2017. Even though we only had a few brief moments in between the rain, I was able to snap the pictures you see throughout this post.

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2016 Masters Picks

With my first visit to August National Golf Club on the horizon, I am turning in my picks early this April.  The favorites heading into this week are more clear than in previous years.  I see the A list contenders as Jason Day, Bubba Watson, Rory McIlory, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, and Adam Scott.  In an effort to see even deeper into the 2016 Masters storyline, I offer up the following advanced predictions.

  • Vegas odds are 2:1 that I will shed a tear when my eyes are first laid upon Augusta National Golf Club.  I will keep it together.
  • Jordan Spieth will valiantly attempt to defend his title, however the par 5, 15th hole will serve as his week long nemesis and ultimate undoing.
  • The swashbuckling Swede, Stenson, goes low on Thursday and Friday and leads heading into the weekend. However, a wild succession of water balls will sink his chances.
  • No, Tiger Woods will not participate in this years Masters.  However, the vast number of references and montages will make you think otherwise.
  • Rory McIlroy sets a new record for number of Masters eagles in 4 days with 5.  Rory simultaneously balances that out with 5 double bogies.
  • Adam Scott plays solid golf all week and finishes 3rd.  Looks confusingly at his putter after a birdie miss on Sunday's 18th hole.
  • Jordan Spieth's Texas Barbecue is rumored to be one of the most delicious meals ever consumed at the Champions Dinner.  Unfortunately, I will not be in attendance to confirm the allegations.
  • As a contributing writer to Ashley Mayo's "Overheard at The Masters," the 2016 version will be one of the most viewed internet snippets of all time.  Move on over David After the Dentist!
  • Bubba Watson hits it into the woods on #10 again.  However, he makes bogey this time and never recovers from the ensuing mental tailspin.
  • Sleeper pick:  Ryan Moore is only one off of the pace going into Sunday.  Finishes solo 4th.  After prediction comes true, controversy erupts over Ryan Moore's qualifications as a legitimate "sleeper pick."
  • Jason Day finishes second for a change.  Remains #1.
  • Rickie Fowler wins the Masters by 2 shots and posts a record 16 selfies of himself doing rad $hit in the green jacket.  Including but not limited to the following action items.
    • Ricky begins his Masters victory lap by skydiving in the green jacket and successfully using the coat tails as his parachute.
    • After his appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Ricky accepts a triple dog dare to scuba dive in the green jacket.  Mako sharks look on enviously.
    • Ricky's high tops, no pants, and green jacket selfie generates wild enthusiasm while drawing serious criticism from golf's governing bodies.
    • Golf Boys 3.0 Green Jacket edition proves that even Augusta glory can't improve your rap game.