‘A private round for us’: What Augusta National feels like 6 days before the Masters begins

ANWA competitors got the rare chance to enjoy Augusta National in solitude on Friday.

Courtesy of Augusta National

AUGUSTA, Ga. — Augusta National was quiet on Friday. It’ll be the last time for the next nine days that you can say that. Fans — err, patrons — will show up Saturday for the final round of the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. Drive, Chip & Putt comes a day later. Then, this golfing holy ground will be abuzz until the green jacket is awarded next Sunday night.

For now, though, near-silence persists. The only sounds on the course Friday were the pings of a centered driver from Women’s Amateur practice rounds, or the thump of a well-struck iron. Caddies shared their knowledge of Alister MacKenzie and Bobby Jones’ diabolical greens, and some players looked awed as they strolled through the towering pines.

ANWA competitors had the joint to themselves. After they fired their tee shots down the 1st fairway and trudged up the massive slope up to the green, they were alone. Reporters and other personnel could mingle only around the clubhouse, meaning players could enjoy the walk in a way that few ever can.

“It’s incredible,” Emilia Migliaccio said. “It’s a private round for all of us, and they just put on an incredible show here at ANWA, and we’re really lucky to be here.”

For some, the round is preparation for the event’s final day. For others, there’s a tinge of bittersweetness. Although all 72 competitors get to play the during the practice session, only those who made the cut will get to tee it up in the final round.

Among those missing out is defending champion Anna Davis. Her week got off to a disastrous start on Wednesday when an opening-hole rules snafu turned her bogey into a quad. She never recovered from the gaffe and missed the cut by two, officially ending her bid to become the first back-to-back champion.

“I wish I were playing tomorrow,” said Davis, clad in her signature bucket hat. “But whatever. It is what it is.”

Players’ emotions coming off the 18th at Champions Retreat covered the spectrum. But after a day at Augusta National, little moping is evident — even from those who didn’t make the cut.

“It was amazing — I love the course,” said Savannah de Bock, who missed the cut by 12. “I think it’s one of my favorites now. It was so much fun. I hope to come back next year to play it in the tournament.”

As the final few groups came off the course, three tee times remained on the docket. Heavy hitters all of them. In the first group was USGA president Fred Perpall and Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley. Behind them was PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and LPGA Tour commissioner Mollie Marcoux-Samaan. The final group featured USGA CEO Mike Whan and PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh.

The lives of these power brokers have been particularly hectic of late, what with the sport in a seemingly constant state of change and uncertainty.

On Friday, though, they were enveloped in a calming quiet.

It won’t last. On Saturday, the roars return.

Zephyr Melton

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.