As we inch closer each day to the 2020 Masters, each one of the 91 players in the field is doing last-minute preparations to get ready for the final golf major of the year. However, their preparations for Augusta began long before this week, and players have been working with their personal coaches to prepare to chase the green jacket. At a GOLF.com virtual roundtable, a few of GOLF’s Top 100 Teachers — and coaches to the very golfers preparing to play Augusta on Thursday — sat down and talked about the course, how to prepare for it and what to expect.
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Jeff Smith, Top 100 Teacher
Smith began the conversation by bringing up one of trickiest elements of playing Augusta — and what separates it from other major courses: its green complexes.
“Augusta’s greens are so fast — there’s so much slope on them — we don’t really get to practice or look at greens like them very often,” Smith said. “A lot of my guys will buddy up to the greenskeeper at the club wherever they practice and say ‘can you double roll them, can you speed up this back chipping green for me?’ and they’ll try to get some kind of a realistic look at what they are going to be playing at [Augusta].”
Smith attributes the success of golfers like Bernhard Langer — a two-time Masters champion — to being able to navigate the Augusta greens, and pitch and putt on them with precision.
Chris O’Connell, Top 100 Teacher
O’Connell mentioned how over the course of a tournament, the course at Augusta National can (and often will) change dramatically. Thursday’s round is likely to look very different from Sunday.
“We’ve gone in [to Augusta] on a Sunday before the tournament week, and it’s pretty benign,” he said. “And they have the ability to ramp that place up exactly how they want. They can get moisture out of that place overnight.”
O’Connell also noted that no matter the condition of the course, you will always have to worry about the natural weather — such as the wind, for example.
“Sometimes, late in the afternoon, when there’s some wind blowing — you’re defensive putting,” O’Connell said. “You might have an eight-footer and you’re trying to figure out how I can two-putt this thing.”
Jamie Mulligan, Top 100 Teacher
Mulligan implements a strategy he calls “running the movie” to help prepare his golfers for Augusta. For over three decades, Mulligan has hosted Tour players and Junior golfers at the club he works at, so they can play together. As the two groups golf together, Mulligan and his fellow coaches will scream out what hole from Augsuta — or any other major course — the hole they are playing looks like.
“Listening to Patrick [Cantlay] talk about Augusta a couple of days ago, he was like ‘you had painted the picture from all the times you had been there so well that [when] I got there.. I already knew what it looked like,” Mulligan said.