What it Takes to Win the Masters
On the eve of the most thrilling four days in golf, a few people are frantically trying to finalize their pick for who will don the coveted green jacket on Sunday evening, the rest of us are simply excited for the electrifying competition that is sure to transpire. There is no one key ingredient to guarantee a win at the Masters. Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie, Augusta National architects, lived in an entirely different era of golf. One of the, if not the, most famous courses in the world was designed with art and aesthetics in mind. Painted like beautiful brush strokes, rather than a boring grid, the enchanting course in Georgia is unlike any other on the planet. Granted the course has undergone so many changes over the years that it would be false advertising to call it a Jones & MacKenzie course, there is no doubt that the spirit of the course has been upheld. Creativity, ingenuity, and pure skill are all required to be successful at Augusta National. None of the holes, especially the ones that make up the famed Amen Corner, allow a player to overpower them. Many modern courses are laid out so linearly that the long hitter always has a chance. Few courses across the country still protect themselves from the big bomber who need not even worry about accuracy, course management, or putting. This is not the case at never-rated, Georgia course. Put simply, one does not overpower Augusta National, one finesses it. And that is what makes the Masters so exciting. With the exception of Tiger Woods’ incredible performance in 1997, where he finished a staggering twelve shots ahead of the field, few players walk away with the green jacket unscathed. A close contest is practically guaranteed.
With that being said, I think that there are several players in the field who have the necessary ingenuity and skill needed to be successful at the Masters. Jim Furyk, Brandt Snedeker, Angel Cabrera, Rory McIlroy, and Adam Scott are among the many players to watch at the 78th playing of the Masters. Regardless of who is sitting in Butler Cabin Sunday evening, that person will excel in, what I believe are, the integral areas of the game required to succeed at Augusta National.
Those areas are:
1. Patience: This can be a very long week with very fast and slope ridden greens that require a lot of patience. Avoiding frustration is a must. Also, the pace of play tends to be slower than normal, which wears on the golfers.
2. Hot Putter: A hot putter can go a long ways at the Masters. The golfer that makes the most putts and putts consistently throughout the week usually comes out on top.
3. Drive the ball in the fairway: It certainly helps to keep the ball in play and on the correct side of the fairway to approach the greens. Hitting the fairway at Augusta is not enough, players must be certain to hit the “correct” side of the fairway in order to ensure a shot at the pin. Chipping and pitching is tricky at the Masters with the slippery slopes and thick grass. Players who avoid putting themselves in this difficult position by getting it in the fairway off the tee and then hitting the green are the most likely to succeed.
4. Good decision making: The practice rounds are very important in order to set up a good game plan and what clubs you want to carry for the week. This is where the creativity comes into play. I heard Phil Mickelson say this morning that he has not had a shot from 90-130 yards in three years at Augusta, and as a result he is adding a 64 degree wedge to his bag to help around the greens. The players must set up a plan as to how they want to play the course and then stick to that plan. Golfers need to stay in the moment and not let results (good or bad) change that game plan.
5. Fitness: I think fitness and conditioning will come into play as Augusta is a very hilly golf course and tough to walk. The golfer that is in the best shape coming down the stretch will give themselves the best chance at winning. A player cannot be huffing and puffing, and they must have their legs in order to continue to make good golf swings.
I believe that the golfer who has those five items in check all week has the best chance of coming out on top at Augusta National. So sit back, relax, and get ready watch the greatest tournament at the greatest venue in golf.