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5 reasons why The Masters is the most difficult tournament to win

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Everyone’s favorite time of year is here: The Masters! Truth be told, it’s the only tournament I watch every single shot possible. It’s such great theater and it’s the mecca for golfers all over the world. Having been there and played the course, I can tell you it’s a different set of conditions than most have ever seen. Therefore, I would like to give you my five reasons why Augusta is the most difficult tournament to win in the world… and putting is not one of them!

1) History

The Masters is the one tournament where everyone knows the history and the course. Even casual sports fans who have never touched a club know what Amen Corner is, and what the Green jacket means.

It’s also the tournament you grow up pretending to win. “Ok, this one is for The Masters,” you’ll say to yourself while night putting as a junior. The Masters just means a little something more to the fans and participants because of it’s history.

Playing Amen Corner on Thursday is one thing, but playing Amen Corner on Sunday with the Green Jacket hanging in the balance is quite another. And it takes a special golfer to get the job done on Sunday with a place in that history on the line.

2) The Pressure of Forever

The Masters invite is highly coveted, even among players who have already played in the event. You see the guys on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram showing off their Masters invite like it’s a trophy.

As we all know, winning the tournament gives you the Masters invite for life. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this special even for perpetuity? You can’t tell me that having that special perk on your resume wouldn’t make your entire career, not to mention being the highlight of your year, every year until even after your career is over. If you don’t think I’m right, look at how many of the old timers come back just for the Par-3 Contest and/or just to enjoy the week as Augusta’s special guests?

This too may weigh heavily on the minds of the leaders the night before Masters Sunday.

3) Shot Shaping

Everyone knows Augusta is a right-to-left biased course off the tee, and all the players know that this is a requirement. So everyone works on their right-to-left game with their driver; I don’t think many players hit a soft fade off the tee on 13 towards the trees on the right… they try and hammer it around the corner to give them a shorter shot into the green.

Additionally, you will find that the different pin placements and green slopes will also force you to move the ball both directions with your irons if you truly want to have an easier shot at birdies. I don’t know about you, but if I had to go at that Sunday pin on hole No. 12, a soft fade off the center of the green would be a much easier shot to hit than starting it over the water with a draw if I had to go at that pin… it gives you a bit of leeway if you get a touch froggy.

Anyone can move it both directions on Tour, but can you rely on your non-typical shot shape with the tile on the line if the shot calls for it?

4) Trajectory Control combined with Distance Control

The biggest issue for players at Augusta is that you cannot hit the ball into the greens with your normal trajectory for 72 holes… you must alter your trajectory to control your landing angles so the ball stops quicker, or you can get the ball on the proper shelf. Think hole No. 15; you simply cannot hit a low draw into that green with a long iron, or you will quickly cascade over the back of the green leaving yourself with an impossible pitch to an elevated green running downhill toward the water. No thanks.

But here is the issue… do you know your distances when hitting the ball with different trajectories? And can you trust those numbers down the stretch, or when the adrenaline gets pumping on the back nine on Sunday?

Getting to know the shots you need to hit into the different pins at Augusta National takes time to learn, and is possibly a more complicated process than at any other golf course in the world. My advice for new Masters participants would be to work on TrackMan to understand how your different swing feels effect launch angle, and then figure out exactly how far those different feels hit the golf ball. Sometimes, you’ll need to hit a flighted draw into a certain pin location, and a yard-or-two off your distance could lead to a double bogey and cost you a made cut or a Green Jacket. Dial in those distances on shots with different trajectories!

 

5) Pitching Control

First timers who have never played on the perfectly-manicured, yet extremely firm conditions at Augusta National are at a distinct disadvantage compared to the veterans. There’s simply no course in the world that can perfectly mimic the conditions around the green.

I know the Houston event tries to accommodate some of these Augusta-like conditions, but it’s not really the same because you are hitting off of Bermuda grass. And players know the golf ball won’t react like it does off Rye. So you come into Augusta on Monday-Wednesday trying to practice as much as you can to get used to the different grass and different ball reactions. For some, this will mean changing lofts and grinds of their wedges. For others, a shift in technique or mindset may be necessary.

Your short game must be a strength at Augusta, but have you really simulated it enough for it to work when you get there?

By now, you should have a better understand of what players face when trying to win The Masters. And, in my opinion, it’s the most difficult tournament to win in golf. Who do you think will jump the 5 hurdles above and win come Sunday?

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Tom F. Stickney II is the Director of Instruction and Business Development at Punta Mita, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (www.puntamita.com) He is a Golf Magazine Top 100 Teacher, and has been honored as a Golf Digest Best Teacher and a Golf Tips Top-25 Instructor. Tom is also a Trackman University Master/Partner, a distinction held by less than 15 people in the world. Punta Mita is a 1500 acre Golf and Beach Resort located just 45 minuted from Puerto Vallarta on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by the Bay of Banderas on three sides. Amenities include two Nicklaus Signature Golf Courses- with 14 holes directly on the water, a Golf Academy, four private Beach Clubs, a Four Seasons Hotel, a St. Regis Hotel, as well as, multiple private Villas and Homesites available. For more information regarding Punta Mita, golf outings, golf schools and private lessons, please email: tom.stickney@puntamita.com

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Steve Wozeniak

    Apr 4, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    Typical for this site……it’s actually the exact opposite of what the “pro” thinks……

    Steve Wozeniak PGA

  2. Tom54

    Apr 4, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    I agree the field is smaller but I would hardly call it weaker. I think the history and how it has remained true to its origins is why it is so special. Multiple winners I believe is because of course familiarity. More you play more you become comfortable with it. That’s why very few first time winners. I believe it’s the most prestigious of the majors because of all the attention given to past champions. Other majors are important and hard to win too. There is something a little different about being a Masters Champion

  3. Tony Lee

    Apr 4, 2018 at 11:33 am

    Putting?

  4. Markallister

    Apr 4, 2018 at 1:55 am

    it is the easiest major, because the field is weakest. everybody knows that. in fact, it should not be a major, but rather a silly-season invitational which would better fit with the strength of the field.

    • ND Hickman

      Apr 4, 2018 at 5:09 am

      Won many green jackets then, have you?

    • Zach Bartness

      Apr 4, 2018 at 7:23 am

      On flip side, hardest to win because the field is so limited. If you aren’t in you can’t win it. Goes both ways….

  5. Man

    Apr 3, 2018 at 9:14 pm

    It’s the easiest to win. That’s why so many Spaniards win it, and why there are so many multiple winners

    • aman

      Apr 3, 2018 at 10:45 pm

      Tiger is a mix of African and European on his father’s side and Thai, Chinese and Dutch on his mother’s side. He was raised as a Buddhist. He has no Spanish ancestry.

    • Javier

      Apr 4, 2018 at 8:17 am

      Quite the contrary.
      Multiple winners: Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Seve Ballesteros, Tom Watson, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods…
      Spaniards: (i) Seve, one of the best players of the golf History, (ii) Ollie, included in the golf Hall of Fame, and (iii) Sergio, one of the best players of the last 20 years.
      Therefore, just the best ones (some exceptions as in the other majors) are able to win the Masters.
      Man, just think a little before say/write anything.

  6. fuzz

    Apr 3, 2018 at 6:42 pm

    How about the bikini-waxed greens… 😮

  7. juststeve

    Apr 3, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    On the other hand it has the weakest field of any major, weaker than most regular tournaments.

    • Sean Foster-Nolan

      Apr 3, 2018 at 6:12 pm

      I agree with this. While the field is strong, it is limited. I would think of all the majors it would be the “easiest” to win.

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