Is this Hootie Johnson I'm talking to? You're the new chairman
of Augusta National, right? Well, this is Bob Jones, and I'm
really hot. Yes, yes, the Bob Jones, or Bobby, as the scribes
used to call me. None of your business where I'm calling from,
or how. The question is, What the hell are you doing to my golf
course? Look, just because some kid came along two years ago and
made a barrel of birdies doesn't mean you have to panic. This
Tiger--and what kind of name is that, anyway?--he starts
reaching the par-5s with a driver and a wedge, and you bring in
the bulldozers and rearrange what Alister Mackenzie and I took
three years to build. Why, Granny Rice once called our course a
Cathedral in the Pines. You wouldn't put eye shadow on the Mona
Lisa, would you?
Stop that blubbering now and let me get specific. Take the 2nd
hole. Pink dogwood, Cliff Roberts called it. Lovely par-5, a
dogleg left that the longer hitters in the field could reach in
two. Our patrons loved to sit behind the green and cheer the
approaches that carry the bunkers in front of the green. So you
go out and hire this Tom Fazio fellow to move the tee back 25
yards and build some damned stone wall so our patrons won't have
to look at our equipment storage area. Stone wall? I plant
dogwoods and azaleas to make the course a 365-acre garden, and
you build something that looks like the start of a Kmart. So
what you've got now is a par-5 nobody in the field can reach
except for Tiger, and maybe this other kid with the dark glasses.
Let's go to number 11. Year in, year out one of the toughest
holes on the course, a nifty par-4. Tell me this, Whose bright
idea was it to make it even tougher? Because of the pond Alister
and I put in to the left of the green, Ben Hogan, no less, once
said that if his approach ever wound up on the green, he had made
a mistake. He much preferred to bail out to the right of the
green and take his chances with a pitch and putt. A little
conservative, maybe, but that was Ben.
Now you've raised the green by two feet. You've removed the two
bunkers behind the green and added one more toward the right
front. The boys who go right will be chipping uphill to a green
that slopes back toward the water like an Olympic bobsled run.
You also diddled with the area behind the green, steepening the
terrain toward the water. Hootie, Hootie, Hootie, you've got to
remember that these players, these gentlemen, are my guests.
Don't try to humiliate them.
April 4, 1999
No, I'm not through. You tinkered, if that's the word, with
number 15, another par-5. In other words, you tinkered with
history. I'm sure you know that on an April afternoon in 1935
Gene Sarazen stood on the crest of the hill, took his four-wood
and knocked his ball into the cup for a double eagle. He went on
to win, which is important, or else the shot would've been a
footnote. That shot put our damn tournament on the map.
It looks to me as if you saw a bunch of full-grown pine trees on
sale at a local nursery, bought the lot of 'em and had them
planted willy-nilly all over the 15th. "Let's see," you must
have said. "We'll stick a dozen over here on the right side of
the fairway, and maybe eight more a bit farther along. The other
six we can stick down there to the right of the green." Is that
what you said, Hootie? And because the bulldozer was in the area
anyway, you had the driver knock down most of those fairway
mounds someone else put in there several years back. What'd you
figure, that too many drives were landing on the downhill sides
and rolling into the next county? That too many birdies and
eagles were exciting the gallery in the greenside grandstand?
What in heck were you thinking, Hootie?
Last of all, what's all that long grass you let grow to either
side of the fairways? You fellows run out of lawn mowers? You
know I always kept my course manicured. You're starting to make
Augusta look like Quad Cities.
Hootie, I want to promise you one thing: Next time you have the
urge to play golf architect, I'm going to take you down to Amen
Corner some dark night and show you I still know how to hit a
"Hootie, I'm going to take you to Amen Corner and show you I
still know how to hit a wedge."