Masters Notebook: Monday & Tuesday


The first stop I made at Augusta National was at the altered tee at the par-5 second hole. A security guard, who’s been assigned that spot for the last four years, said the tee was lengthened by 10 or more yards and slightly titled by 10 feet. It’s a subtle change that might bring the fairway bunker more into play. Wind direction will be a factor. Other than tweaking a few greens for new pin positions, there are no major changes to the course. Last year, the par-5 13th hole underwent a major tee renovation and lengthening to restore its risk-reward character.

On the patron side, a new permanent stone building for concessions, restrooms, and some limited merchandise is located near the 8th tee and the 18th fairway. The Augusta Chronicle reported that the building even sports “three mechanical lifts” to transport items from its storage basement to the concession aisles. This is all done to improve “patron traffic flow.” Again, it is all in the interest of enhancing the Masters experience.

It was also reported that Masters champions were able to bring a guest last Sunday to play Augusta National. Ben Crenshaw played with his manager.


Akshay Bhatia

Akshay Bhatia

In the Monday presser for Akshay Bhatia, the last qualifier for the Masters by winning the Valero Texas Open, I asked him to comment on the acid test of his adoption of the “broomstick putter” when he made the putt on the 72nd green to tie Denny McCarthy. He went with the long putter earlier this year after realizing he needed to improve his putting stats. “I was planning to give it six months.” He didn’t think about the putter when he was over the putt. “I feel like, regardless of what putter you have, in that moment I feel like I was going to make that putt, so it doesn’t really matter.”

Bhatia is the first Masters player to have participated in the Drive, Chip & Putts finals, where he finished 6th in his division in 2014. But he also competed and won one of the most prestigious junior tournaments at the Sage Valley Junior Invitational in nearby Graniteville, SC, in 2018. “I think it’s one of the — probably the highest-ranked tournament that we ever play. It feels like our Masters as kids. That golf tournament was great. I played — the year I won, I played against Ludvig (Aberg), who finished second, and we’re both here today.”

Incidentally, Adam Scott used a similar long putter to win the 2013 Masters.

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