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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Test Time at Augusta

I'd like to write a scathing story about the train wrecks all over Augusta yesterday afternoon. I hadn't been that sick to my stomach since the ride home from Magic Mountain in fifth grade at Eric Atkinson's birthday party when Jared Chow took the brunt of my churros and nachos grande. However, reviewing what happened to 10+ of the top players in the world when they made the turn in front of Tiger Woods would only make me feel worse.

Instead, I want to talk about three tests that should be administered at Augusta before every Masters Tournament. One test is for the players, the second test is for the patrons, and the third test is for the members.

Test One - Psychological Test
Each player in the Masters field save Tiger Woods, Seve Ballesteros, Ben Crenshaw, Fuzzy Zoeller, and Gary Player should be required to take a psychological test shortly after arriving at Augusta. After an intensive written and oral examination, the doctor should take each player's pulse and blood pressure. During these tests, the doctor should mention things like "Tiger Woods", "Buick Spokesman", "Earl Woods", "Cablinasian", "Elin", "Green Jacket", and "Tee Shot on 12". If there is a spike in the player's heart rate or blood pressure, the player might be disqualified from the tournament. If his blood pressure spikes only at the mention of "Elin", he'll be allowed to play. The reason for this test is to weed out early everyone who doesn't deserve to win the tournament because of their mental weakness.

Test Two - Masters Knowledge
During the Monday practice round, Jay and I kept shaking our heads in amazement at how uninformed the patrons (esp. the louder ones) around us were about the Masters, Augusta National, and golf in general. We decided that as a pre-requisite to obtaining entrance for practice rounds and tournament rounds, you have to answer at least six out of ten correctly on the following test. Here are the questions:

1) Which holes comprise Amen Corner?
2) Who won the first Masters?
3) How many Masters did Arnold Palmer win?
4) What is Ben Crenshaw's nickname?
5) Among these players, who won the most Masters titles? a) Jimmy Demaret, b) Bernhard Langer, c) Tom Watson, d) Seve Ballesteros
6) Which two men founded Augusta National?
7) What "trophy" does the winner of the Masters receive?
8) Name the two par 5s on the back nine.
9) Name three holes on the course that have water in play.
10) How many Masters titles did Gren Norman win?

Test Three - Bobby Jones Appreciation Assessment
Augusta National has been changed quite a bit in the past ten years, and now it hardly resembles the course Bobby Jones envisioned back in the early thirties. I don't think Jones would be disappointed with all of the changes concerning added length, but nearly all of the other changes made to the golf course run counter to his design philosophy. Holes one, four, seven, eleven, fourteen, fifteen, and seventeen most definitely have him rolling in his grave.

Fortunately, many of these changes can be undone if the members say so. The third test that I'm calling for is a full-blown assessment of each Augusta member's appreciation for Bobby Jones' vision for how Augusta should be played, why he thought the way he did, and how the course as it plays today is contrary to what was intended. After the assessment, each member would be required to write a 600 word essay on what he could personally do to restore the design elements Jones and Mackenzie desired.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Jack said...

Johnny, as an avid golfer and one who reads a lot about the history of golf and has no problem watching 4 round on television, without looking up the answers I might not get 5 of your 10 “qualifying questions” correct. So what if the patrons are donkeys – do you not go to hockey games because you don’t know what the blue line is for? Or icing? Or don’t know what a 6-4-3 is in baseball? You guys come off sounding like you two are the founding members of Augusta and can’t believe the general public is on your grounds eating your cheese sandwiches.

You may be right about Bobby Jones rolling in his grave in reference to the course changes because Bob Jones was the last man on Earth to change from hickory to steel shafts!! Denial of the benefits of technology is holding your game back. But the changes in golf architecture are obvious to this fact – the guys hit it retardedly far and the ball spins so much that rough is a mere nuisance. Courses built back in the day will never play as they once did. It’s physically impossible. How long would a hole have to be for Tiger or Phil or your boy Brett Wetterich to hit driver, ONE IRON on a hot still summer day as Ben Hogan did in the 1950 US Open at Merion? Don’t be that guy who said, “who would ever want a personal computer?” or the guy who claimed, “my horse has more personality than that for wheeled machine.” Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.

9:50 AM  
Blogger John Gorman said...

Jack - First of all, I got my white belt. So, I'm definitely with the times.

You miss my point about technology; I don't reference or allude to technology at all. If you reread my post, you'll see that my beef (or Jones' beef if he were around) isn't about length. It's about taking a unique course that offered a variety of angles to the greens, and sqeezing out many of those angles with trees. It's about maintaining the intention of the design while still keeping pace with technology. I think Augusta could have done that, but they went too far with about five of the holes.

As for the test, I would have thought a guy like you would get 6 or 7 right at least. I admit it's a little difficult, but it's mostly toungue-in-cheek. But if I wrote it, you know it isn't all toungue-in-cheek, and you should be okay with the part I'm serious about. My problem with people who don't even know if #13 is a par 5 is analagous to your frustration over the guys who walk right through sand traps without raking, wear jeans on the golf course, and don't fix ball marks on greens.

It's madness all around!!!

11:35 AM  

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