The Augusta National Golf Course was designed and
construced by Jones and Dr. Alistair McKenzie, with work completed
in 1933. Dr. McKenzie is also the designer of Cypress Point and many
other famous courses around the world.
So, how's it playing this year?
course getting sweet revenge Changes help counter equipment of today's
big hitters, by Thomas Boswell
renovator Tom Fazio gives first-day assessment April 12, 2002 By Dave
Golf Press Association Fri. April 12, 2002
Object of Our Affection
and you would expect Casual Friday to write about something
other than Augusta National? Sorry, we were like the rest of
you, either camped in front of the computer waiting for the
Web site leaderboards to change or telling everyone in the house
to pipe down and move outta the way so we could watch USA Network's
television coverage. We expected to see carnage and train wrecks
given all the talk of how difficult Augusta National was going
to play. Tom Fazio, the golf course architect who masterminded
the changes to Augusta, was of the thinking that the course
would play one to two strokes harder. John Daly said two to
three strokes. But in round one, 21 of the 88-player field were
in the red, names like Love, Els, Woods, Price, Garcia, Mickelson,
Goosen, Olazabal, Singh, Leonard. And all of those were at 2-under
or better. Since 1996, that is the fifth highest number of players
under par for an opening round. 'Ol Augusta National was playing
soft. The humid Georgia air and calm winds played a part in
that, neutralizing the bite of the brutally beautiful Augusta
on Thursday. The 74.11 field scoring average was the third lowest
since 1997. But the course is certainly playing into the hands
of the long hitters. Of the 17 players at 2-under or lower,
13 had driving distances higher than the field average of 283.7
yards. "Accurate beats length around here," said 21-year-old
first-timer Adam Scott, who shot a 1-under 71, but was one of
the players under the field average for driving distance. Obviously
Scott still has a few lessons to learn. Distance will ultimately
provide a dividend, especially as Augusta firms up and dries
the Golf Press Association Wire Thurs. April 11, 2002
National Chairman W.W. "Hootie" Johnson
Last year you surprised us all with the answer to this question,
so let me ask it the same way. Is this course today exactly
the way you want it to be?
JOHNSON: Well, I think I'd answer that like Mr. Roberts responded
to the lady that told him that he had a perfect tournament.
He said, "Thank you very much, but we really never get
it right." And that may be true with the golf course.
When did these changes and this revision, whatever you wish
to call it, become an absolute act to be done? When was the
JOHNSON: Well, you know, we do -- it takes us a while to make
a decision down here, but the rapid pace of change has kind
of speeded up our decision-making process. Last year, before
the tournament, we did have the intention of -- we recognized
that we had to make some changes to some of the par 4s; we
needed to strengthen them. And then during the tournament,
we felt like what we were seeing that if we had other opportunities,
that we needed to take advantage of those, also, to try to
keep pace with the change that was going on in the game, like
at 8 and 13.
As I recall, sometime during the tournament last year, you
had Tom Fazio, and you mentioned his name.
JOHNSON: Well, he and I were down on 11, and Phil Mickelson,
we saw his drive come down there. We thought somebody had
chipped out of the woods. (Laughter.) After he made his shot,
I went down and went under the rope, and he was 94 yards from
the green. I told Tom, I said, "Heck, man, no question
about what we are about, and we should be more aggressive
with what we are doing."
How many of those 285 yards do you figure you'll use this
week? Are you going to play them all the way back or what?
JOHNSON: Well, Will can make a final decision on that based
on the wind. I expect on every hole that we changed, we'll
use all of it; maybe not all on the same day.
With all of the rain we had last night, the course, obviously
is playing much differently today. Do you anticipate that
you will be able to get the course back to the sort of speed
and firmness of the greens by the weekend? What's the outlook
JOHNSON: We hope so. We would like to have -- we had it like
we wanted it Sunday and Monday. That would be what we would
hope to achieve.
Which is what?
JOHNSON: Whatever it was on Sunday and Monday. (Laughter.)
Were you more concerned with the scores these guys were shooting
in relation to par, or more concerned with the fact that they
kept reaching for a wedge every time?
JOHNSON: We were not concerned with the scores. We never really
gave that a lot of consideration. Of course, the short club,
I guess leads to the score. We just hated that time after
time, pulling out sand wedge or pitching wedge to par 4s.
This is a question outside of competition. You have overseen
more changes here than perhaps any other previous chairman.
One of the things here is the exclusivity of the merchandise.
Why is it that it is exclusively just sold on-course and do
you ever foresee it being sold on the Internet, catalogs,
things like that?
JOHNSON: Well, we think a piece of clothing or souvenir here
is kind of special to the people that have been here, and
while our merchandise sales are important to us, we don't
feel the need to go on the Internet and trivialize the merchandise.
Along the same lines, can you talk about the whole aura, the
lack of commercialism, no cell phones on the course, what
are you trying to create down here and how hard is it to keep
JOHNSON: Well, we just work at it real hard. I don't know
how to -- I really don't know how to answer that.
What's the idea behind it all?
JOHNSON: Well, I think that what we do, I think that Mr. Roberts
and Bobby Jones set a pace for excellence and for courtesy
and doing the right thing. We just try to continue that.
How do you feel about the changes, particularly on the 18th
hole, was there a feeling that that hole had become not as
dynamic a finishing hole?
JOHNSON: I feel real good about the 18th hole. (Laughter.)
And that's no tongue-in-cheek. I feel good about the 18th