Springtime, the first major championship, the blooming azaleas, the palpable excitement—golf’s annual return to Augusta National is when the juices start flowing again. Even for diehard golf fans, the season really doesn’t begin until The Masters.
This year, however, my year started a few weeks early: I was writing a TV show that previews the Masters, as well as this year’s other major championships, and also brings the public a chance to play Augusta National in their living rooms.
Starting this past weekend, the “EA SPORTS Golf Preview” began airing on stations around the country. The show features many of the game’s stars—Tiger, Jim Furyk, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter, Stewart Cink, and more—talking about Augusta National, the pressure of the majors, how they use social media, and numerous other topics in some pretty candid interviews.
The show also features a tour inside the Nike Golf Tour trailer, and both inside-the-ropes and at-home visits with Rickie Fowler, last year’s PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, who will be playing Augusta National for the first time ever when the tournament starts in two weeks. I had to listen to hours of Rickie talking—about golf, his game, working out, his caddie, his off-course hobbies (which range from motocross racing to fishing)—and I came away very impressed with what he has to say and how he says it.
Forget the orange and pale-blue outfits: This kid is a serious player, the real deal.
I’m not the only one saying so. Also in the show is a panel of editors from Golf Digest and GolfWorld magazines, adding their perspectives on players like Fowler, as well as on this year’s majors and some thoughts on the globalization of the game.
But that’s not all.
One of the most exciting aspects of the show is the unveiling of the newest EA SPORTS golf video game, the first to feature Augusta National. Yes, you can now tee it up at what is arguably the most famous—and most desired—golf course in the world whenever you want on your own videogame console.
“Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters” is one helluva game. Not only is the action authentic, featuring a host of players including Tiger and Rickie, but it also incorporates the voices of Jim Nantz and David Feherty, allows golfers to rely on a caddie for help and information, includes historic moments from Masters past, and has many other cool enhancements.
But best of all, it has Augusta National, every square inch of it, a truly incredible rendition of the course in all—and I do mean all—its glory. The development team spent days mapping the course and then thousands of hours turning it into a digital masterpiece. All three images on this page are taken from the game.
The views are much better than what you get on television. What you see in the game screen is as close as you’ll get to being there short of having a patron’s badge. I’ve been there, I know.
The game—which ships on March 29—will be available for XBox 360, Wii, and PlayStation 3. It features 14 other courses, including the Par-Three at Augusta National, the Old Course at St. Andrews, Pebble Beach, Royal Melbourne (site of this year’s Presidents Cup), and more. Depending on the platform, the game will cost from $49.95-$69.95, and is available now for pre-order.
To give you a taste of both the show and the game, EA SPORTS has prepared a video preview. I hope you’ll catch the show on your local TV station and enjoy.