Augusta National should be a lesson for every golf course,everywhere. Like its ancient uncle, the Old Course at St.Andrews, it takes apart a golfer’s game and makes every stroke important. Both accomplish this without any rough. There is no need to toughen up golf courses with knee fescue and narrow fairways. Both are risk and reward tracks with big rewards for the great shot and severe penalties for the ill struck ball. If golf wants to shorten playing time, shorten the rough.
Jordan Speith experienced the Augusta trait of leveling the playing field during his second round. Mis-fires and long putts for pars were his undoing on Friday. Still, he maintains the lead because no one mounted a charge at him. If he does not win this Masters it will be because he allowed unforced errors to allow the field to get close.
I watch the amateur, Bryson DeChambeau, with more than a curious eye. The young man, who won both the NCAA Men’s Individual crown and the men’s US Amateur last summer, remained an amateur for the chance to play at Augusta. Not only has he made the cut but until a disastrous triple on his 36th hole was one stroke off the lead. What makes me more than just a curious bystander is his approach to the game. DeChambeau uses clubs all the same length with a baseball grip and single plane swing. Last season I became a disciple of “Golf för Vuxna,” the Swedish swing thoughts of Sacke Frondelius. Bryson DeChambeau is the example of what you can accomplish by simplifying your golf swing.
Finally, how painful is it to watch Phil Mickelson play golf? The once poster boy for short game magic, aa well as getting better with age, looked like a poor imitation of his former self. During Friday’s round he took two to get out of a bunker as well as many mis-struck chips and pitches. All of those shots were ones he was once able to pull off blindfolded.
What was really painful was seeing one of the great “feel” putters of all time reduced to using the claw grip for assistance. It was no help as he missed putt after putt from distances he used to never seem to worry about.
It’s a lack of putting accuracy that sends great players down the road to retirement.
Speaking of retirement, while the fans were respectful and gave him many standing ovations, didn’t it seem as if Tom Watson’s final round at the Masters was ignored by the golf press? A storied career treated like an afterthought. If we were in Scotland, it would have been a National holiday.
Watson was glad to leave the Masters on his own terms.
“I’m grateful for the fact that they allow the past champions to pick the time they say no mas to retire,” he said. “I think that’s really a good thing. I know a few years back, there was some talk about maybe setting an age for retirement, but it didn’t work. I think we know when it’s time to say no mas, and let us make the call. That’s what makes the Masters unique compared to all the other tournaments, all the other majors. It allows the players to make the call. I still think that’s a very special thing about this tournament.”
One of the very special things about this tournament was you, Tom Watson.