How the pandemic has altered this coveted Masters tradition

Amateurs staying in the Augusta National clubhouse this week might feel a little lonely.

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A Masters unlike any other is upon us: no patrons, no Par-3 Contest, fall foliage, a past champion sidelined by the virus.

Even the fabled Crow’s Nest, atop the Augusta National clubhouse, will look and feel different.

During Masters week, that cozy, 1,200-foot-space is typically reserved for up to five amateurs in the field. There are four bedrooms — one with two twin beds — one bathroom and a green-carpeted common space with a couch and game table. Jack Nicklaus has stayed there. So have Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods. You can’t beat the commute to the 1st tee, and the camaraderie is pretty great, too.

This week, though, not so much.

Because of the pandemic, the club is permitting just one boarder per night in the Nest. That’s according to Andy Ogletree, the Georgia Tech star who is in the field courtesy of his win at the 2019 U.S. Amateur.     

“So I am going to stay on Wednesday night after the Amateur Dinner,” Ogletree said Monday. “I’ll stay up there before the first round, and if it’s open another night, I might try to stay there again.” 

Still, even if Ogletree doesn’t get the full Crow’s Nest experience, he will enjoy another perk from his U.S. Amateur win: playing the first two rounds with the defending champion, one Tiger Woods.  

augusta national clubhouse
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“Right after I won the U.S. Am, I thought about it a lot,” Ogletree said of playing with Woods. “You imagine the big crowds. You imagine the roars.  You imagine people running up to see Tiger and then running to the next hole after he taps in.”

With no fans this week, things will play out a little differently than Ogletree’s original vision, but Thursday and Friday will still be a rush for him. “To be paired with him is awesome,” Ogletree said. “He was definitely an inspiration to me early on in the game. I don’t know how much we’ll talk and how much interaction we’ll have, but just to play, that’s good enough for me.” 

And, who knows, if Ogletree plays well enough, he may just earn himself another night in that historic perch in the Augusta National clubhouse.  

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Alan Bastable

Golf.com Editor

As GOLF.com’s executive editor, Bastable is responsible for the editorial direction and voice of one of the game’s most respected and highly trafficked news and service sites. He wears many hats — editing, writing, ideating, developing, daydreaming of one day breaking 80 — and feels privileged to work with such an insanely talented and hardworking group of writers, editors and producers. Before grabbing the reins at GOLF.com, he was the features editor at GOLF Magazine. A graduate of the University of Richmond and the Columbia School of Journalism, he lives in New Jersey with his wife and foursome of kids.