Back 9: Augusta On My MindWritten by Fred Altvater | | BackNine@toledofreepress.com
The PGA Tour is finishing up its Florida swing and is inching ever closer to Georgia for its annual rite of spring, The Masters. It has been held each year since 1934 at one of the most gorgeous sites on earth, Augusta National Golf Club. The course was conceived by golf’s true legend, Bobby Jones. He and partner Clifford Roberts purchased a rundown nursery on the outskirts of Augusta, and commissioned famed Scottish golf course designer Alister Mackenzie to bring his dream to life. The results were astonishing. Mackenzie’s creation has lasted the test of time and with only minor tweaking over the years is still considered one of the most beautiful and difficult golf course properties in the world.
The tournament with its majestic beauty and regal presence is held each year at the beginning of April. It is a harbinger of spring and offers a rebirth of the golf season for most of the thawing northern United States.
It has one of the most impressive list of past winners of any golf tournament in history; Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, and of late Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. The big names always seem to work their way to the top of the leader board by the start of the Back 9 on Sunday. The players are at the mercy of the swirling winds and the “Golfing Gods” as they enter “Amen Corner”. Eagles and birdies await on No. 13 and No. 15, the two par 5’s on the Back 9, but the tall stately pines tightly guarding the fairways, a seductively meandering Rae’s creek, as well as, the slick, undulating greens, rumored to be elephant burial grounds are always lurking to dash the dreams of donning the Green Jacket in Butler Cabin.
This year’s Masters should not disappoint. The PGA Tour is 13 weeks into their season and 20 some things have won 6 times thus far in 2011. Martin Kaymer, Dustin Johnson, Bubba Watson, Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, and Ryo Ishikawa are just a few of the young guns who will not only be in the field but are all threats to top the leader board. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson seem to be awakening from their long hibernations and appear to be finding their slumbering golf games. After all between them they have won 6 of the last 10 Masters tournaments. Throw in Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald, Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, resurging Vijay Singh, putter extraordinaire Steve Stricker, as well as, a host of other hungry veteran players seeking a major title to add to their resumes, it makes for a very tasty and satisfying full course menu.
If you are a golf fan you won’t want to miss all the story lines and subplots during this year’s Masters. When the leaders finish the front side and head to the Back 9 on Sunday, fasten your seatbelts and make sure the seats and trays are in the upright position, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.