Alterations to Augusta
Rough and Tough
This is an article from the April 17, 2000 issue
Change has been the rule at Augusta National and the Masters for
65 years, yet almost every change has been met with trepidation
and resistance. Last year the National took a quantum leap by
adding rough. This year the fairways were narrowed. As the
players got their first look at the course in the days preceding
the tournament, the cries rang out: The place was losing its
distinctiveness; it was ugly; the vaunted birdie runs would
stop. Tom Weiskopf, himself an architect, likened the course to
a med-school cadaver--sliced and diced. Jack Nicklaus, a
six-time winner there, said the work of the architect hired to
make the latest changes, Tom Fazio, looked like the effort of
"somebody who doesn't know how to play golf."
Guess what happened when the tournament began? Nothing.
Everything we like about the Masters remained intact or was
enhanced: There was the outstanding leader board; the game's
power players came to the fore; Nicklaus made a cameo; and Vijay
Singh's winning score of 10 under par had a major-championship
After Tiger Woods went 18 under to win in 1997, when he and
several others were reaching most of the par-4s with a driver and
a short iron, the club had to make a choice. One option was to
leave everything alone. That would have meant that some future
winner would probably shoot 22 under. Or the greens could be made
even faster and trickier. That would mean that rounds would last
more than six hours.
Instead, Augusta chose a third option: growing rough, or what
the club calls the second cut, because the grass stands only 1
3/8 inches tall--what muni players would consider manicured.
Unlike U.S. Open rough, which is designed to exact a half-stroke
penalty for those who drive into it, the cost for venturing into
Augusta's is more subtle. All that happens is that a player
cannot spin the ball as much as he can a shot from the fairway,
which makes it harder to stop the ball close to the hole on the
course's firm greens.
The effect has been significant but not stifling. In 1997 and '98
the field hit more than 83% of the fairways. Last year that
number dropped to 69.5%. This year, with most of the fairways
narrowed by another two yards and those at the 9th and 10th
brought in 10 yards, the percentage went down even more, to
65.0%. At the same time, the percentage of greens hit in
regulation dropped only marginally--from about 59% in '97 and '98
to slightly more than 56% in '99. This year the percentage
increased to 60.8%.
What this means is that, in essence, Augusta is asking for a
little more from the players--a little more strategy, a little
more thought off the tee and a little more skill at how to read
flier lies. These are things that the best players do better than
the others and that produce the best winners.
The rough doesn't kill the long hitter; it nourishes him. Even
Nicklaus, who claimed that he does not like the changes, says,
"[The rough] rewards power more, because the farther you hit it,
the more you can negate the rough." Adds Davis Love III, another
big hitter, "They did it just right. The changes they are making
will always make it better for the long hitters who can putt.
About the only thing is, there are fewer eagles, so I guess
they're saving on crystal."
That touches on the strongest point raised by those who wish
Masters officials would leave the course alone. "What the club
has done is fine, but the golf's not as fun to play or to watch,"
says two-time champion Ben Crenshaw. "It's not as interesting a
course. You can't pull off the fun shots, and that's what really
made this tournament so special--the fun of playing."
Hot Driver Banned
Last week the USGA ruled that the new Callaway ERC (for Ely
Reeves Callaway) driver does not conform to the Rules of Golf. In
a test to measure how efficiently the club transfers energy to
the ball, the driver was found to have a coefficient of
restitution--the amount of rebound in the clubhead--greater than
the USGA limit of .822. In laymen's terms that means that on
solid hits the driver produces too much of a trampoline effect.
Because it doesn't conform, the titanium ERC cannot be used in
competitions sanctioned by the USGA. Outside the U.S. and Mexico,
though, where the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews
governs the game, players are free to use the club, which is sold
overseas for $900 and is said to add about 10 yards to the
average tee shot.
The R&A doesn't use the same method as the USGA to measure the
so-called springlike effect in clubs. Therefore the ERC can be
used on the European tour and in the British Open. Among top
players to date, Michael Campbell has used the club in a
tournament in New Zealand, while Colin Montgomerie has practiced
with it and may put it in play on the European tour. Both report
Said Peter Dawson, the secretary of the R&A, "We recognize that
there is a springlike effect, and we believe uniformity in the
rules is very important. We are in the process of developing a
simpler, more portable test than the USGA's." (The USGA procedure
requires that a club be shipped to the association's headquarters
in Far Hills, N.J., where it has to be disassembled to undergo
Ely Callaway says he would be surprised if the R&A follows the
USGA and bans his club. "These thin-faced drivers that the USGA
finds nonconforming have been used for two years in Japan, and
the R&A has been fine with them," he says. "Why would it change
its mind now?"
The Wayward Ball
Slice of History
Hey, you! Yeah, you. We know you're out there.
You can't hide. We have the ball. The lab is working on it.
You're the one who cold shank-sliced one over the fence at
Augusta Country Club and onto the 12th green at Augusta National
on Saturday, nearly braining a guy named Tiger Woods. You didn't
holler "Fore!" You didn't holler "Sorry!" You didn't even ask
Tiger to throw it back over the fence.
"It was just splat! all over the green," said Woods, who was
trying to chip out of the pine needles behind the green when your
ball went sailing high over his shoulder. "We never saw a cart,
we never saw anybody. I guess he was embarrassed and didn't want
to come get his ball."
You should be embarrassed, pal. The only hole on the entire
Augusta Country Club that abuts the National and you managed to
strafe it. On your side of the fence, it's the 382-yard,
all-uphill par-4 9th hole, which runs perpendicular to the
National's 12th. Somehow, you clanked it over two sets of
humongous trees and onto the right side of the green. "A great
shot for [Sunday's] pin," Woods said with a grin.
Hey, if you wanted to play through, you could've asked.
"Our first reaction was 'Where the hell did that come from?'"
said rules official Hugh Campbell. "We thought it might have come
from the 13th tee box. But then we realized, perhaps not with
players of this caliber."
Campbell wandered over, picked up your ball, looked through the
fence for some sign of somebody with a red face, found nobody and
pocketed it--a Precept MC 30. "I wasn't going to play it," said
Woods. "It's not my brand."
Woods's caddie, Steve Williams, fixed the ball mark, and
everybody kept going, if a little warily. Woods and Stewart Cink
holed out and then looked some more for you, but you never showed
Can't blame you. Nobody around Augusta can remember that
happening during the Masters. "I've been here 16 years," said
Gordon Jenkins, one of number 12's rules officials. "Nothing even
"You ever see anything like that here?" Woods hollered up to Mark
(Gomer) Bowden, the longtime 12th hole cameraman for CBS.
"Never," Gomer said.
"I could see it happening," says Augusta Country Club assistant
pro Bill Wallis. "A 20-handicapper is hitting about a four-iron
in to that [9th] green. If he hits a pretty good slice, cuts it
way out to the right, I suppose it could happen."
Is that what you did? Fanned a four-iron halfway to Aiken? Or was
it a toed three-wood? Or did you do it on purpose? Maybe got up
near the fence, hit a lob wedge over and ran for it? Make the 11
o'clock news, maybe.
"Well, we thought for a moment it might be deliberate," said
Campbell, "then ruled it out. This was definitely a shot gone
Or was it? After all, you did the one thing that most of the
Masters players didn't on Saturday. You hit 12. --Rick Reilly
Those CBS announcers are full of it. Contrary to what Peter
Kostis says, more putts are missed because of a flawed stroke
than because of a misread, and any dolt--but not Bobby
Clampett--could tell that Vijay Singh wasn't going for the pin at
11 on Sunday. He pulled the shot, for Pete's sake! Making it seem
as if Tour pros don't make physical mistakes is delusional and
ignores a fundamental truth: Golf is hard.
What do these players have in common?
--Jose Maria Olazabal
Since the MCI Classic debuted in 1969, they're the only players
who have won a major and haven't played at Harbour Town.
Should Lee Elder, who in '75 became the first African-American
to play in the Masters, replace the late Gene Sarazen as one of
the tournament's honorary starters?
--Based on 4,603 responses to our informal survey
Next question: Should the tours support the NAACP's boycott of
South Carolina by canceling their tournaments in that state? Vote
Let's hope that Vijay Singh does better in the rest of the majors
than Jose Maria Olazabal did last year. Here are the last 10
Masters champs and how they fared in the other majors the year
they won the green jacket.
U.S. OPEN BRITISH PGA
J.M. Olazabal WD CUT CUT
Mark O'Meara 32 1 T4
Tiger Woods 19 24 29
Nick Faldo 16 4 65
Ben Crenshaw 71 15 44
J.M. Olazabal CUT 38 T7
Bernhard Langer CUT 3 CUT
Fred Couples 17 CUT 21
Ian Woosnam 55 17 48
Nick Faldo T3 1 19
Martha Burkhard, Alameda, Calif.
Nick Ushijima, Stockton, Calif.
Martha, 12, and Ushijima, 35, won the women's and men's
divisions, respectively, of the San Francisco City Amateur at
Harding Park. Martha, a seventh-grader at Lincoln Middle School
who has been playing golf for only three years, won 2 up in the
36-hole final over 22-year-old Eden Anderson, a former member of
the Cal team. Martha became the youngest winner in the 83-year
history of the tournament. Ushijima, a real estate investor and
wine exporter, defeated Jim Hay, a former pro who has regained
his amateur status, 3 and 2 in the final. Ushijima, who was even
or under par in all six of his matches, is from Japan. He played
at the University of the Pacific and is now a member of the
Japanese national team.
D.J. Trahan, Inman, S.C.
Clemson's Trahan, the highest-ranked freshman in the U.S. (10th),
won the Las Vegas Intercollegiate at the Desert Inn Country Club
with a par on the third hole of a playoff against Texas sophomore
Matt Brost. With his score of nine-under 207 in regulation,
Trahan tied the Clemson freshman record set by Chris Patton at
the 1987 Gamecock Invitational.
Submit Faces candidates to golfplus.cnnsi.com/faces.
FRED BENNETT'S TOP 10
Bennett, 69, who has been caddie master at Augusta National for
44 years, will retire in May. Until 1982, when only the club's
caddies were used in the Masters, his job was to assign caddies
to players. Here are the 10 who he thinks were the best.
1. Willie (Pappy) Stokes
Masters wins: Henry Picard ('38), Claude Harmon ('48), Ben Hogan
('51 and '53) and Jack Burke Jr. ('56). Born in Augusta. Bennett
says, "No yardage man; he was the best at pulling a club by eye."
2. Nathaniel (Ironman) Avery
Masters wins: Arnold Palmer ('58, '60, '62, '64). Got his
nickname because wounds he sustained in a knife fight allegedly
didn't bleed. Bennett says, "With the right opportunity he
could've played the Tour."
3. Willie (Pete) Peterson
Masters wins: Jack Nicklaus ('63, '65, '66, '72, '75). He leaped
higher than his boss when Nicklaus holed a 45-footer at 16 in
1975. Bennett says, "Willie was good, but the greatest caddie in
the world is Jack Nicklaus."
4. Carl (Skillet) Jackson
Masters wins: Ben Crenshaw ('84, '95). Says the right thing the
right way. Bennett says, "Carl is so laid-back he calms a player
down just by being himself."
5. Eddie (E.B.) McCoy
Masters wins: Gary Player ('74, '78). A carpenter, E.B. knows
his measurements. Bennett says, "E.B. was just as precise and
disciplined as Player."
6. Ernest (Snipes) Nipper
Masters win: Player ('61). One of the best golfers among the
caddies. Bennett says, "He stalked the course like he was the
7. Jerry (Bubble) Beard
Masters win: Fuzzy Zoeller ('79). Zoeller willingly followed
Beard's advice as he became the third player to win the Masters
on his first try. Bennett says, "Jerry is a natural leader, and
he loved leading Fuzzy."
8. Matthew (Shorty Mac) Palmer
Masters win: Billy Casper ('70). An expert greens reader with a
decisive manner. Bennett says, "Shorty Mac was so sure of
himself. He wasn't always right, but he always sounded like he
9. Leon McClattie
Masters wins: Tom Watson ('77, '81). Great at correcting swings.
Bennett says, "A good player, a nice guy."
10. Mark (Banks) Eubanks
Best Masters finish: Second, Johnny Miller ('75). The best
greens reader ever at Augusta. Bennett says, "When the good
players in the club are in a tournament or a match, they ask for
AGE 29 WORLD RANK 45
HEIGHT 5'9" WEIGHT 155
FAMILY Wife: Bricia
Children: Elle Marisa (12/19/97); Lili (4/3/00)
BORN Sarnia, Ont.
DISTINCTION Shared the third-round lead with Tiger Woods in the
'99 PGA but closed with an 80. Three weeks later shot 64-64 on
the weekend to win the Air Canada Championship.
ON BEING A LEFTY "It's not rare for a golfer in Canada. It must
have something to do with so many people playing hockey, because
about 20 percent of the golfers are left-handed. When I was 13, I
wrote Jack Nicklaus and asked if I should switch to right-handed.
He said, 'Stay with what feels natural.'"
WHAT IT'S LIKE BEING THE BEST PLAYER IN THE COUNTRY WITH THE MOST
GOLFERS PER CAPITA IN THE WORLD "A little crazy, but something
I've always wanted. I get recognized everywhere, but it's not a
burden. It inspires me."
WHY HOCKEY PLAYERS MAKE GOOD GOLFERS "A good slap shot teaches
you a shallow angle of attack. That's the best way to hit a golf
WHAT KIND OF HOCKEY PLAYER WERE YOU? "A feisty little disturber
type. I like contact. Kind of like [Detroit Red Wings forward]
Pat Verbeek. I used to like bodychecking somebody when I got mad,
but there's no release like that in golf. That was hard to learn.
I had to drop the gloves a few times, but I lost my two front
teeth by running into the top bar of the net."
GOING RIGHT-HANDED "I was behind a tree in a playoff during a
Canadian tour event, so I turned over a six-iron. I duffed the
shot about 50 yards into a trap and lost."
THE NEXT TIME HE PLAYS WITH TIGER... "I'll get a few security
guys of my own. Tiger had 10 or 12 guys at the PGA, and if I let
them get ahead of me, I got run over [by the fans] going to the