By Seth Kerr
GolfWRX Staff Writer
My first memory of the Masters is Fred Couples on the par-3 12th hole on Sunday in 1992. I was 11, and already in love with the game and most other sports.
I remember Ken Venturi announcing, and watching the ball slowly roll back ready to fall in the water and ruin my favorite player’s dream, and then I watched it stop. I can remember smiling and knowing he would win, and I remember saying someday I would be there.
So when my dad called me and said it was time to cross off something on both our bucket lists I felt like I was a kid again. I’ve been lucky enough to go to some great sporting events like the Final Four and have gone to more games than I can count at the two best venues in the world in my humble opinion, Fenway Park and the Boston Garden, but what they say is true.
Nothing is like Augusta.
We had tickets for Saturday. I had scoped out all the information I could on the best places to watch, when to buy souvenirs, whether to buy chairs, etc., so I felt pretty solid on what we should do when we arrived.
I’d heard all the stories about eating a pimento cheese sandwich (not bad), how nice everyone is, and how hilly the course is. The course is incredibly hilly, shockingly hilly. Television doesn’t do it justice. They could run the bobsled event down some of those fairways.
We arrived and headed straight for the shop to buy a shirt, hat and chairs. We decided we would try to make it to No. 16 and watch the par 3, so we’d be where the action was during the end of the day.
We made the trek across the first hole, around the second green, third fairway, seventh fairway, No. 17 fairway and finally to the 16th. We were there by 8:30 a.m. and there were already a number of chairs. We put ours just to the left of the right greenside bunker about four rows deep.
My dad wanted to sit for a while and since we were a couple hours from anyone actually playing the hole I decided to walk around for a bit and try to take in each hole. It really is a beautiful place. The bunkers are much deeper than they seem on television and a lot of the greens seem smaller too.
The left side of the par-5 15th looks about 20-feet deep. From the cross walk there is a sprinkler head marked 114 yards. I’m a 5 handicap and decent golfer and don’t normally miss the green with a wedge but the shot looked incredibly intimidating.
Same with the 12th, the green looks so small. It looks like a sliver of green between bunkers.
I could talk all day about the course and the little things. What really stands out is the people you meet. Once players started arriving at the 16th and chairs filled up, we met tons of people both first timers and people who had been there for 10 or 20 years. There were old, young, men, women and almost everyone was knowledgeable about the sport. Some of the most fun we all had was watching the scoreboard on No. 6 to see whose name they would take off and whose they would replace it with.
On a random note, there are no bugs. I saw one fly, and one dragonfly, no ants, no spiders, no mosquitoes, nothing.
As far as the play, there weren’t too many stand out shots on the 16th that day. The best shots were players getting up and down from the bunker.
The most notable action was Justin Rose four putting to fall out of contention and Gary Woodland four putting on his way to shooting 85 and withdrawing due to an injury.
All day we had been watching the scoreboard wondering, where is Phil, what is he doing, is he doing anything? Every time a name went down on the scoreboard, we would think his was going up, but it never did. For most of the day players had to be 3-under or so to make the board, and without cell phones you really have no idea what was happening around the course.
Then you heard the roar and just knew. I looked at the guy next to me and we both said, “that was an eagle roar, maybe it’s a Phil roar.” Within about two minutes, we saw a name being replaced and there was Phil.
When he arrived on the 16th and made his way up to the green the crowd went crazy for him. It was great seeing how he carries himself, unlike another certain someone. Phil acknowledged the crowd, smiled, nodded his head at encouragement, and looked genuinely thankful for the crowd’s cheers.
But for me I will always remember the final group. Seeing my golfing hero. Going back to being that 11-year-old kid and seeing Freddie walk up the 16th. Clearly dejected, clearly not having a good day, but clearly loved.
You guys can have Tiger and whomever else you want, I’ll take watching Freddie any day of the week.
Everyone I met who I told it was my first time said the same thing, “You’ll be back next year” or “see you in the same spot next year”. And they are probably right, I think I will have to go back. It will never seem the same on television again.
Clark: A teacher’s take on Brandel Chamblee’s comments
Because I’m writing to a knowledgeable audience who follows the game closely, I’m sure the current Brandel Chamblee interview and ensuing controversy needs no introduction, so let’s get right to it.
Brandel Chamblee, a former PGA Tour player, now plays a role as a TV personality. He has built a “brand” around that role. The Golf Channel seems to relish the idea of Brandel as the “loose cannon” of the crew (not unlike Johnny Miller on NBC) saying exactly what he thinks with seeming impunity from his superiors.
I do not know the gentleman personally, but on-air, he seems like an intelligent, articulate golf professional, very much on top of his subject matter, which is mostly the PGA Tour. He was also a very capable player (anyone who played and won on the PGA Tour is/was a great player). But remember, nowadays he is not being judged by what scores he shoots, but by how many viewers/readers his show and his book have (ratings). Bold statements sell, humdrum ones do not.
For example, saying that a teacher’s idiocy was exposed is a bold controversial statement that will sell, but is at best only partly true and entirely craven. If the accuser is not willing to name the accused, he is being unfair and self-serving. However, I think it’s dangerous to throw the baby out with the bathwater here; Brandel is a student of the game and I like a lot of what he says and thinks.
His overriding message in that interview is that golf over the last “30-40 years” has been poorly taught. He says the teachers have been too concerned with aesthetics, not paying enough attention to function. There is some truth in that, but Brandel is painting with a very broad brush here. Many, myself included, eschewed method teaching years ago for just that reason. Method teachers are bound to help some and not others. Maybe the “X swing” one player finds very useful, another cannot use it all.
Brandel was asked specifically about Matthew Wolff’s unique swing: Lifting the left heel, crossing the line at the top, etc. He answered, “of course he can play because that’s how he plays.” The problem would be if someone tried to change that because it “looked odd.” Any teacher worth his weight in salt would not change a swing simply because it looked odd if it was repeating good impact. I learned from the great John Jacobs that it matters not what the swing looks like if it is producing great impact.
Now, if he is objecting exclusively to those method teachers who felt a certain pattern of motions was the one true way to get to solid impact, I agree with him 100 percent. Buy many teach on an individual, ball flight and impact basis and did not generalize a method. So to say “golf instruction over the last 30-40 years” has been this or that is far too broad a description and unfair.
He goes on to say that the “Top Teacher” lists are “ridiculous.” I agree, mostly. While I have been honored by the PGA and a few golf publications as a “top teacher,” I have never understood how or why. NOT ONE person who awarded me those honors ever saw me give one lesson! Nor have they have ever tracked one player I coached. I once had a 19 handicap come to me and two seasons later he won the club championship-championship flight! By that I mean with that student I had great success. But no one knew of that progress who gave me an award.
On the award form, I was asked about the best, or most well-known students I had taught. In the golf journals, a “this-is-the-teacher-who-can-help-you” message is the epitome of misdirection. Writing articles, appearing on TV, giving YouTube video tips, etc. is not the measure of a teacher. On the list of recognized names, I’m sure there are great teachers, but wouldn’t you like to see them teach as opposed to hearing them speak? I’m assuming the “ridiculous” ones Brandel refers to are those teaching a philosophy or theory of movement and trying to get everyone to do just that.
When it comes to his criticism of TrackMan, I disagree. TrackMan does much more than help “dial in yardage.” Video cannot measure impact, true path, face-to-path relationship, centeredness of contact, club speed, ball speed, plane etc. Comparing video with radar is unfair because the two systems serve different functions. And if real help is better ball flight, which of course only results from better impact, then we need both a video of the overall motion and a measure of impact.
Now the specific example he cites of Jordan Spieth’s struggles being something that can be corrected in “two seconds” is hyperbolic at least! Nothing can be corrected that quickly simply because the player has likely fallen into that swing flaw over time, and it will take time to correct it. My take on Jordan’s struggles is a bit different, but he is a GREAT player who will find his way back.
Brandel accuses Cameron McCormick (his teacher) of telling him to change his swing. Do we know that to be true, or did Jordan just fall into a habit and Cameron is not seeing the change? I agree there is a problem; his stats prove that, but before we pick a culprit, let’s get the whole story. Again back to the sensationalism which sells! (Briefly, I believe Jordan’s grip is and has always been a problem but his putter and confidence overcame it. An active body and “quiet” hands is the motion one might expect of a player with a strong grip-for obvious reason…but again just my two teacher cents)
Anyway, “bitch-slapped” got him in hot water for other reasons obviously, and he did apologize over his choice of words, and to be clear he did not condemn the PGA as a whole. But because I have disagreements with his reasoning here does not mean Brandel is not a bright articulate golf professional, I just hope he looks before he leaps the next time, and realizes none of us are always right.
Some of my regular readers will recall I “laid down my pen” a few years ago, but it occurred to me, I would be doing many teachers a disservice if I did not offer these thoughts on this particular topic!
A trip down Magnolia Memory Lane: Patron fashion at the 1991 Masters
Like a lot of golfers out there, I’ve been getting my fix thanks to the final round Masters broadcasts on YouTube via the Masters channel. Considering these broadcasts go back as far as 1968, there is a lot we could discuss—we could break down shots, equipment, how the course has changed, but instead I thought we could have a little fun taking a different direction—fashion.
However, I’m not talking players fashion, that’s fairly straight forward. Instead, I wanted to follow the action behind the action and see what we could find along the way – here are the 1991 Highlights.
I love the “Die Hard” series as much as anyone else but one fan took it to a new level of fandom by wearing a Die Hard 2 – Die Harder T-shirt to Sunday at the Masters. This patron was spotted during Ian Woosnam fourth shot into 13. Honorable mention goes to Woosie’s gold chain.
There is a lot going on here as Ben Crenshaw lines up his put on 17. First, we have the yellow-shirted man just left of center with perfectly paired Masters green pants to go along with his hat (he also bears a striking resemblance to Ping founder Karsten Solheim). Secondly, we have what I would imagine is his friend in the solid red pants—both these outfits are 10 out of 10. Last but not least, we have the man seen just to the right of Ben with sunglasses so big and tinted, I would expect to be receiving a ticket from him on the I20 on my way out of town.
If you don’t know the name Jack Hamm, consider yourself lucky you missed a lot of early 2000s late-night golf infomercials. OK so maybe it’s not the guy known for selling “The Hammer” driver but if you look under the peak of the cabin behind Woosie as he tees off on ten you can be forgiven for taking a double-take… This guy might show up later too. Honorable mention to the pastel-pink-shorted man with the binoculars and Hogan cap in the right of the frame.
Big proportions were still very much in style as the 80s transitioned into the early 90s. We get a peek into some serious style aficionados wardrobes behind the 15th green with a wide striped, stiff collared lilac polo, along with a full-length bright blue sweater and a head of hair that has no intention of being covered by a Masters hat.
Considering the modern tales of patrons (and Rickie Folwer) being requested to turn backward hats forward while on the grounds of Augusta National, it was a pretty big shock to see Gerry Pate’s caddy with his hat being worn in such an ungentlemanly manner during the final round.
Before going any further, I would like us all to take a moment to reflect on how far graphics during the Masters coverage has come in the last 30 years. In 2019 we had the ability to see every shot from every player on every hole…in 1991 we had this!
At first glance, early in the broadcast, these yellow hardhats threw me for a loop. I honestly thought that a spectator had chosen to wear one to take in the action. When Ian Woosnam smashed his driver left on 18 over the bunkers it became very apparent that anyone wearing a hard hat was not there for fun, they were part of the staff. If you look closely you can see hole numbers on the side of the helmets to easily identify what holes they were assigned to. Although they have less to do with fashion, I must admit I’m curious where these helmets are now, and what one might be worth as a piece of memorabilia.
Speaking of the 18th hole, full credit to the man in the yellow hat (golf clap to anyone that got the Curious George reference) who perfectly matched the Pantone of his hat to his shirt and also looked directly into the TV camera.
It could be said the following photo exemplifies early ’90s fashion. We have pleated Bermuda shorts, horizontal stripes all over the place and some pretty amazing hairstyles. Honorable mention to the young guys in the right of the frame that look like every ’80s movie antagonist “rich preppy boy.”
What else can I say except, khaki and oversized long sleeve polos certainly had their day in 1991? We have a bit of everything here as Tom Watson lines up his persimmon 3-wood on the 18th. The guy next to Ian Woosnam’s sleeves hit his mid-forearm, there are too many pleats to count, and somehow our Jack Hamm look-alike managed to find another tee box front row seat.
You can check out the full final-round broadcast of the 1991 Masters below.
The 19th Hole Episode 119: Gary Player joins the 19th Hole!
Hall of Famer Gary Player gives an exclusive one-on-one interview with Host Michael Williams about his life in golf, his thoughts on the current game and his tips for thriving even in difficult times.
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