Augusta Too Wet, Too Narrow, Too Dense, Too Far for Most of Us
For the avid golfer and spectator of any age, the craving is an abiding one – “Just once in my life, I would dearly love to play one round at Augusta National.” For the better part of the past century, we have been riveted to one of the most luxurious pieces of nature ever groomed for the game, courtesy of the TV industry. A few have even seen it up close. However, no matter how much you want to play that course, the club doesn’t want you to in most cases, and an act of Congress couldn’t get you on that first tee.
Along with the craving, there is an ever-present question that goes with it – “How would I do if I did get to play it?” There is some data to make an educated guess as to the results, but my parallel question is “How much would you really enjoy it?” That, to my mind, depends on what sort of person and golfer you are. If you have a strong zen streak, you will probably enjoy the experience on every level, from the azaleas to hitting an occasionally good shot, and in the big picture to just being there. If you want the Augusta experience to be like a trophy on the wall, something to trot out for friends and family, you’re probably good, so long as you are not obsessed with score. Others, however, think of it in terms of “Would I break 80, 90, 100, or 110?” And there’s the rub. That is a question born of reality, an un-zen approach, and probably a lot of trouble waiting to happen in your fantasy round.
So, for those of you preoccupied with scoring against the not-so-jolly green giant that is Augusta, here is what the professional course raters have to say, according to Golf.com. They predict that the bulk of scratch players on their own courses would score between 76 to 80, with a few several strokes higher. Even for a scratch player, the distance at Augusta is probably about a thousand yards further. More woods to the green will be required, and according to Golf.com, on some of them you will need to “hit the hood of a Volkswagen bug.” That’s a lot more narrow than what most good golfers are used to.
Ah, but the bogey golfer. Now we’re talking about most of us. It is predicted that over 48% of us would score between 101 and 110. Around 12% would fall between 96 and 100, while 3% sit between 91 and 95. Then comes a hefty 35% in a category labeled “The sky’s the limit.” The added distance aside, why such a grim prognosis? For starters, there’s the speed and undulations of the greens. Have you watched putts at Augusta where you were sure it was going in, but it didn’t? On this course, the result can’t be known until the ball reaches the final 2 to 4 inches, and even then… The opportunities for chipping back and forth across greens that are hard to hold are infinite – rough to rough and bunker to bunker. Make it to the 16th with half your mind left, and it’s “water water everywhere.” More blue than green makes hefty odds that you’ll spend some strokes in the lake.
Then there is the problem of attitude. For the zen, “glad to be here” golfer, scoring may not affect you one way or the other. However, if scoring is your thing, I refer you to Isaiah 57:16 for moral support – “Neither will I always be roth, for the spirit should fail before me.” Sorry, but it’s important to point out that Augusta doesn’t feel that way. It’s “roth” all the time. Our course raters predict that a portion of the players seeking a scoring day will quit from a broken spirit. For the worst, throwing clubs or bags in the water at Augusta is extremely bad form, and would certainly negate a second invitation.
Regardless of type, I doubt that very many avid players would turn down a round at Augusta. My capacity for zen is actually pretty good when I’m confronted by a battle I can’t truly win. So, in the off chance that anyone in Georgia wants to issue me an invitation to play the hallowed fairways, roughs, lakes, bunkers and greens of Masters fame, I accept.