Jack Nicklaus And Gary Player Discuss Plenty After Kicking Off The Masters

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We had nearly 90 minutes with the two legends following their honorary starter duties, and I wrapped up some of the more profound and entertaining remarks by Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

This exchange was somewhat indicative of the banter at times. The topic is, of course, distance.

GARY PLAYER:  They are going to hit a wedge in time to come.  The whole TOUR will hit a wedge to the second hole here, the par 5.  They will hit a wedge to No. 13 and they will hit a wedge to No. 15. 

JACK NICKLAUS:  You've never done that? 

GARY PLAYER:  For my third.  (Laughter).

JACK NICKLAUS:  Oh, okay. 

GARY PLAYER:  I played with Trevor Immelman on Sunday, not anywhere near Dustin Johnson or Bubba Watson, and he hits a 7‑iron to No. 15.  He hits a 7‑iron to No. 13 and he hits a 7‑iron to No. 2. 

So if we don't stop ‑‑

JACK NICKLAUS:  Trevor? 

GARY PLAYER:  Yes.  He can play.  He can play.  He doesn't putt very well, but he can really play (laughter).

JACK NICKLAUS:  He putted well once. 

GARY PLAYER:  We're working on his putting.  But the thing is, if we don't do something ‑‑ we've never had a big man play golf here except George Bayer.  These guys in college are weight training and lifting weights and coming out and being very strong, and they are all going to be hitting the ball at least 400 yards.  You'll find guys that will almost drive the first green here at Augusta in 30 years' time. 

When I said this on British television 20 years ago, this particular guy, I said, "They will be hitting many drives at 400."  He scoffed at me.  Dustin Johnson hit a drive 489 yards ten days ago. 

JACK NICKLAUS:  He what? 

GARY PLAYER:  489 yards. 

JACK NICKLAUS:  Where? 

GARY PLAYER:  Austin. 

JACK NICKLAUS:  Did he really? 

GARY PLAYER:  We're seeing guys hitting 400 yards a lot.

JACK NICKLAUS:  Must have been downwind. 

GARY PLAYER:  With professional golf, we're going to have to, have to, cut the ball back 50 yards, at least. 

Hello Friends: A Very Special 2018 Jim Nantz Sound-A-Like Contest Entry

The Dan Patrick Show, where Jim Nantz is a regular guest, held their annual sound alike contest as a Masters prelude. Other than the Hello Friends needing refinement, I think you'll enjoy both the sound and the writing. (I'm not sure though if the bird sounds are native to Augusta...)

Watch: The Honorary Starters Ceremony

Almost all of the Honorary Starters Ceremony, minus that part where Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were credited with ten green jackets between them. The two legends got a kick out of that in what was an otherwise joyful (as always) kick off to The Masters.

Fred Ridley's Momentous Comments On The Distance Issue

Here are the nuts and bolts of Chairman Fred Ridley's comments on the distance issue, which included some prepared remarks and some responses to questions.

As I write for Golfweek, however, this was a momentous day for new chairman Ridley and Augusta National. Because while other chairmen have invoked the words and philosophy of Jones and MacKenzie as a barometer, Ridley took things to another level in saying that the best hole in tournament golf and the best par-5 on the planet, no longer functions as the architects intended. 

The entirety of his most detailed comments in response to a question from Golf World's Ryan Herrington.

Q. You mentioned that you've had -- you've got encouragement from the governing bodies and other golf organizations about the feedback you've provided to them -- or on the distance issue. What has that feedback been, and have you asked them specifically to explore any certain aspects of the distance issue as it pertains to the play of the tournament here?

CHAIRMAN FRED S. RIDLEY: Well, as I mentioned, we do have an open dialog. I'm very familiar with the public statements that have been made recently. You know, our focus initially is on our golf course. We are intent on making sure that we maintain the design philosophy that Mr. Jones and Alister MacKenzie devised. And with the shot values that they thought were important, we have done what we felt was appropriate through the years to maintain that philosophy and that design, those design parameters.

There's a great quote from Bobby Jones dealing specifically with the 13th hole, which has been lengthened over time, and he said that the decision to go for the green in two should be a momentous one. And I would have to say that our

observations of these great players hitting middle and even short irons into that hole is not a momentous decision.

And so we think there is an issue, not only there, but in the game generally, that needs to be addressed. The ultimate decision is going to be, I'm confident, a collective one. It's going to be one where all of the stakeholders sit down and come to some agreement.

From our perspective, we will always do what's necessary to maintain the integrity of our golf course. But as I said in my comments, I don't think that's the only approach to this. So my hope is that every organization, every stakeholder involved will look at this issue from a holistic basis and not only what might be in the best interests of their own organization.

We fully appreciate and want-- do not want any action to be taken that's going to make golf harder. We have an obligation to grow the game, and so we're sensitive to that. So these issues don't always coincide. And like any difficult question, it requires compromise and debate. So as long as we're all talking to one another and looking out for what's in the best interest of the game, I'm confident that there's going to be a solution that's going to work for everyone.

Video: Two Renditions Of G.T. Nicklaus' Par-3 Contest Ace

Gary Nicklaus Jr. is a singer, he's the single digit golfing grandson of Jack Nicklaus and now he's recorded one of the great aces in Augusta National and coolest moments in Masters history.

There are two versions, the original, and the announcer-free Gary Player version. Enjoy and keep the Kleenex happy, Jack is one happy grandad.

 

 

Whoa: Announcing The Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship

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Beth Ann Nichols of Golfweek with the early details and analysis of a momentous decision by the Augusta National Golf Club, announced Wednesday at The Masters by Chairman Fred Ridley. The first two rounds will be played at Champions Retreat and the event will finish on Saturday prior to the Masters. And while this is not the Women's Masters many had hoped for, it's really an incredible announcement.

For Immediate Release:

Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, announced today the establishment of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship, which will be held annually the week prior to the Masters and will culminate with the final round taking place at Augusta National.

“Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts left behind a legacy of always trying to contribute meaningfully to the game of golf,” Ridley said. “The Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship embodies that principle, and we believe this event will have a significant and lasting impact on the future of the women’s game. Our hope and expectation is that this event will further energize those who already love the sport and inspire others through the dream of competing at Augusta National.”

The 54-hole, stroke play tournament will feature an international field of 72 players. Invitees will be determined by awarding winners of other recognized championships and using the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking.

In 2019, the first two rounds will take place at Champions Retreat Golf Club in Augusta. After a cut to the low 30 scores, the final competitive round will take place at Augusta National on Saturday, April 6, when an amateur champion will be crowned for the first time ever at the home of the Masters.

The event is expected to be televised and will be distributed on digital platforms around the world. Daily tickets onto the grounds of Augusta National for the final round will also be made available through a random selection process that will be announced at a later date.

Crenshaw And Dynamics Of Possibly Lengthening Augusta National's 13th

For Golfweek's Masters preview issue I wrote about the dynamics involved in lengthening the 13th hole and got some interesting feedback from Adam Scott. We will find out more today about future plans for the hole from Chairman Fred Ridley's press conference (11 am ET).

As part of the 13th Hole feature that aired this week on Live From The Masters (and may still run), we are getting some fun bonus content from our chats with Nick Faldo and Ben Crenshaw. Here is Ben talking about many elements of the hole, looking at Josh Pettit's plan created for the feature:

Sergio's Champions Dinner Is Out, Chef Begins Prepping A Few More Burger Patties Just In Case

It's not that the food sounds anything but wonderful--but Spanish lobster rice and "like a soup" according to Sergio, is tonight's Champions Dinner entree. Did Agador Spartacus influence the menu?

However, Angela's dessert sounds sublime...

Brentley Romine with the details.

Some past menus.

Sergio's tweet...and a Masters.com video where he explains his selections.

The Masters post...

Parziale: “He’s a blue-collar kid from a blue-collar family from a blue-collar city"

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Matt Parziale, the U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion, came into the Masters press center yesterday to discuss his tournament preparation and career as a firefighter. 

Mark Cannizzaro has a superb write up of Parziale's story, his comments and insights from friends and family. 

Also worth your time is Jim McCabe's Masters.com piece on the ties between Parziale, Thorny Lea and a former fellow member, Herbert Warren Wind

From his home a few blocks away, Wind would walk over to the club, entering at the 15th hole. Born in 1916, he began to play before age 10 and for years would say how Thorny Lea ushered him into a world of golf that he cherished forever.

“I know of him, how he named Amen Corner and was a great writer,” said Parziale. “I know the club is proud of him.”

Faldo Recounts One Of His Finest Moments, The 13th In 1996

Hopefully you were able to catch the look at Augusta National's 13th hole on last night's Live From The Masters. If not, there should a re-airing today and perhaps again later in the week's Live From coverage, possibly this morning when I'll be on at 9:30 am ET to chat.

GolfChannel.com has posted an exclusive bonus clip of Nick Faldo discussing his shot into 13 in 1996. Here is the clip in its entirety. I think you'll find it to be a pretty compelling 2:12.

And here is the actual sequence, thanks to The Masters now posting all final round broadcasts. Oh I miss Ken Venturi on 13 listening to this. He thought like a fan and like someone who had seen too many greats cost themselves a green jacket at 13.

Ridley: Masters Ball Difficult, Not Ruling Anything Out

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John Boyette of the Augusta Chronicle sets the table for new Chairman Fred Ridley's Wednesday press conference and some inevitable questions about lengthening the course and other possible changes in response to a changing game. 

Ridley is on the record as being a protector of Jones and MacKenzie's design strategy, which is often lost with modern distances, grainy fairways and tree plantings.

“What I think we should do, and what we have done over the years, is to go back to that philosophy and think about what do we need to do to make sure that we are true to the principles that Jones and MacKenzie established at the beginning,” Ridley said.

And this, on the idea of a Masters ball.

“I think it would be difficult, frankly, to have a golf ball for one tournament, but I wouldn’t rule anything out,” Ridley said. “We’re always going to do what we think is in the best interest of the tournament.”

Masters Music, Revisited: The Real Artist And Song Behind Amen Corner

A few years ago I wrote for GolfDigest.com about an essential Masters tracklist that is my Augusta week car music--make fun all you want. This is no Spotify playlist, sorry kids. At least not yet.

Either way it's swell to see nice legit versions on iTunes and elsewhere of the actual Shoutin' In That Amen Corner by Mildred Bailey.

Incidentally, John Boyette's excellent story has been updated and has surfaced on Augusta.com clarifying the artist and recording that Herbert Warren Wind was inspired by to label Amen Corner. It wasn't quite as Mr. Wind got it, but the spirit was all that mattered. And the song lives on, as does Amen Corner. 

For another fantastic read on Wind and Amen Corner, check out Bill Fields' Golf Digest story from a few years ago.

Masters Monday: Day 1 Scene Setter, Poulter Hops A Ride, Hossler Signs After Losing And Luke Parsons' Lag

This should start your week off on the right foot...assuming you're excited for The Masters.

Welcome to Monday at #themasters.

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Ian Poulter went straight from his Houston Open win to hitching a ride with Henrik Stenson.

Beau Hossler stayed around after a tough playoff loss to sign for the kids. 

Even though he fell short, Beau still had time for the kids. 👏👏

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Look at the lag from Luke Parsons, Boys 7-9 division:

Impressive golf on display during the @drivechipandputt National Finals.

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Just Some Of The Best Of 2018 Masters Merchandise

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New space, new lighting and probably a wainscoting shortage after all of the new construction here, yet the merchandising team seems to have only improved the already stellar offerings. A few more niche brands and approaches have snuck in again this year, to compliment the basics that every Masters-logo loving fan will scoop up.

So with that, just some of the best merchandise items I found, though I've already heard rumors of something wonderfully bizarre that I missed! I will investigate and report back. 

Also, the new building, with images and some scenes from the renovated and enhanced entryway, is reported on here by The Forecaddie

Drive, Chip And Putt Wrap: Golf Needs More Drive, Chip And Putt!

Another year, another beautiful Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals at Augusta National. The names are different, but the stories, skill and class has been a consistent trait of all five years. 

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We learned once again that golf can be cool when played with nice manners, amazing etiquette and a little gentility. Sure it helps that they're amazing kids who are way better at golf than they know.

But those who say new and younger audiences are only attracted to boorishness, could learn a thing or two from the participants here, as Nick Faldo put it in an interview under the Big Oak with Steve Sands

Fine as this event is as a stand alone, it does seem odd that by now the professionals have not been tempted to have a big boys or girls Drive, Chip and Putt. Check out Steve DiMeglio’s survey of PGA Tour players asking who they think would win such a competition. It sure would be fun to watch, particularly with some clever chip and putting scenarios.

The Drive, Chip and Putt would not be improved by seeing the pros playing that way. Instead, it’s the pros who could learn a thing or two from the joys of this event and in showcasing their talents in ways beyond 72-holes of stroke play.

Final results here from Golfweek.

A Jimmy Roberts narrated highlight package

Jeff Babineau with a roundup of highlights for DriveChipAndPutt.com.

An image gallery from another beautiful day.

Check out Conrad Chisman’s Daly-esque action:

 

The 7-9 Girls winner Ella June Hannant took Low Cuteness honors. 

Her interview with Charlie Rymer is very special (thanks reader Z for sending), including a mention of her instructor, former PGA Tour player Clarence Rose.

The winners: 

Punters Take Note: Spieth Says He's Taken A Masters Steps Forward

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ShackHouse listeners know we've been looking for signs from Jordan Spieth to be rounding into Masters shape, and at least according to Jordan Spieth, the sign arrived Friday.

He's four back heading into Sunday's Houston Open finale but for the prognosticators out there looking for Masters signs, Jordan Spieth said after his second round 67

From Will Gray's report for GolfChannel.com:

“From where I was three days ago, goal accomplished for the week already. And it’s Friday,” Spieth said. “So at this point anything else is icing on the cake. It’s kind of weird to say that, but just trying to take a step forward every single day. I thought today was a step forward from yesterday.”

A Few Viewing And Logistical Tips If You're Going To The Masters...

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I've gotten some nice messages the last few days from folks wanting suggestions for their first Masters trip. I'm almost as excited for you as I am to again have the privilege of covering the tournament.

Luke Kerr-Dineen tackled this topic for GolfDigest.com and includes very smart tips, including how to minimize your Washington Road time. (Long-winded BTW here: don't fret if you get stuck in traffic, the Sheriff moves things along well enough even at the peak arrival times. Plus, the views of T-Bone's and ticket scalpers make the drive all worth it. If you're really clever, you've also downloaded Dave Loggins' Masters theme to your phone, which you'll soon be saying goodbye too.)

Some tips:

Sunday To Wednesday Bring A Camera - No cell phones in case you had not heard, and since most of us only use them these days for picture-taking, dust off your point and shoot, charge that battery, make sure the memory card is inserted and bring it along. Otherwise, you won’t be able to capture a few memories. Disposables work too.

No Camera, Line Up For A Founders Circle Photo - The line can be long but it's worth it. With three club photographers and easy online retrieval, what's not to love? Ryan Herrington explained in this piece how it all works. 

Timing - Practice round days, early arrivals are recommended as the traffic gets tough due to huge crowd sizes (larger than tournament days, some believe). Plus most players seem to arrive early and it allows you to do shopping. On the four tournament days, particularly Thursday and Friday, a later arrival and staying later affords some tremendous viewing. I’m amazed how early patrons leave on the weekdays. Though this is all with a caveat: an early arrival Thursday means being there for the Honorary Starts at around 8:15 am. 

Two Ideal Meeting Spots - The main scoreboard just off the first fairway will always be the easiest designated meeting spot for most and is a must for a photo during practice days. Another great spot is the concession/restroom/phone booth local behind the 8th tee and near the 17th. This is more convenient if you’re meeting someone who has been out spectating. The 8th tee is centrally located and no more than 10 minutes from any point on the course. 

Take A Stroll In The Park - For those wanting to just do a "lay of the land" walk, I have a weekend routine of scouting almost all of the hole locations early that helps you see almost every part of the property. Starting at the clubhouse, walk up the right of 1 fairway, down the right side of 2, then cut over, check out 3 and 4, before heading to the 3rd hole crossing for a look at greens 6 and 16. From there circle around 16 toward 15, then take the path through the trees to 13 green and the rest of Amen Corner. From there walk up hill to see the amazing 10th, 14th, 17th green and 7th greens, then head back up 18 to the clubhouse. It can all be done in about 45 minutes and you see every hole but the fifth. 

Favorite Viewing Spots - Skip the 11th fairway where the pine tree planting has ruined any viewing of this fairway, once a really underrated spot for watching. Head to the 12th tee where you can see the putting and 12th tee shots. The 13th fairway landing area is also a good spot if you are mobile. The 2nd hole landing area, 3rd green and 4th tee area is another mobile locale that allows fun viewing. For all day sitting, there is no beating any grandstand at Amen Corner and at 15/16.

Shop Early And Ship - A massive new three story merchandise center opens this year near the first fairway, joining a newer facility near the Gate 6 entrance by the fifth green. Most days the merchandise shop is best the earlier you go, though weekend days you can shop relatively traffic free as play commences. But you’re there to watch The Masters, not shop. Right? Either way, just remember shipping is your friend. The UPS rates are fair and the operation is a scene to behold, with remarkable efficiency that gives you little excuse but to ship your purchases home. Fragile items are packed in a healthy wrapping of bubble wrap and if there is any question about the fragility of an item, the staff errs on the side of caution.

Buy The Timeless Stuff**** - Grabbing merchandise like hats and t-shirts with this year’s tournament year seems like a wise choice at the time, especially if you want people to ask about your trip to the Masters or it’s the anniversary of a previous trip. But I’ve found most tend to regret the date stamping preferring to have Masters-logoed stuff with a little more permanence. ****However, if this year's tournament is another 1986 Masters, you’re going to be wanting something with the date. Speaking of which, some retro gear emblazoned with 1986 Masters would be pretty sweet, wouldn't it?

Have A Georgia Peach Ice Cream Sandwich - Essential, essential, essential! As are all of the sandwiches and chips thanks to cost and flavor. Regarding food lines, the concessions at Amen Corner and by 15 green/16 tee seem to be better designed for more patrons than some areas on the front nine and tend to have shorter lines. You rarely find lines at The Masters and most of those were for entering the shop, something that will likely be minimized with a new facility.

Don't Yell ShackHouse If You See Me - that behavior is strongly encouraged and greatly appreciated at all other golf tournaments. Just not this one.