Marty’s Masters Experience

 

Marty Nichols writes about his amazing experience at the 2011 Teed Up US Masters Tour below:

Day 4 of the Tour:

Hi folks – we debuted at Augusta today …

 

Just left the stunning Pinehurst Resort en route to Aiken and the practice day at Augusta tomorrow – yes, I’m getting jumpy! The resort complex and town of Pinehurst is manicured to perfection and we stayed and ate in the 1896 Carolina complex – I now know where a chunk of the tour fee’s gone! Tired boys mostly crashed on the bus, with Pinehurst and Augusta dvd’s playing away.

 

Summary of the first 3 days below:

Day 1: Played Pinehurst No. 8 first (24pts) which was incredible – back tees, stunning visual layout, 30 knot strong winds and rolling greens that read 12 on the stimpmeter – brutal, but should have done better with 31pts the best of our group (and 13 the worst from a 22 handicapper).

 

Day 2 and a 5 mile run around the postcard perfect town before afternoon tee time at Pinehurst No. 2 – the US Open course for 1999 (Payne Stewarts win) and 2005 (Michael Campbells win) is lit up by the tour group all in uniform – red shirts and John Daly checked pants grabbing plenty of attention from one and all!

 

Another perfect day made all the more memorable when our tour organiser had the pins cut in the Sunday ’99 positions – a nerve-wracking treat. Greens running at 9 and the famous upturned bowls were penal. After 8hrs sleep and a sober night I was pumped. Disappointingly, I sprayed it early, shelved the driver and belted my trusty (Cam’s Cup) 4 irons all to no avail – simply could not score any more than 24 again and got back on the beers in the Ryder Cup Bar with Dave Singers book taking plenty of bets (with a few shorting me to have another shocker tomorrow). Gav Lesnie (after a blinder in the local pub that culminated with a Pearl Jam cover with the band) lipped out for 80 and 35pts to lead the group – good golf.

 

Day 3 at Pinehurst No. 4 – for the 3rd day in a row, not a cloud in the sky. Mossie (the classic tour leader and pro, Michael Mosher) threw 3 ideas at me on the range to cure my duck hook/push routine and I went to the 10th with some clue. Another beautiful layout, most water of all the 8 courses, wind blowing hard and characteristically quick greens (running at 11). Didn’t wipe a hole, but had just the one 3 pointer for 32pts – wouldn’t say I’m back, but good to know with some certainty where the balls headed!

 

The photos will inspire, but nothing will beat staying here and being in this place. If anyone can do this tour, they must – particularly with a few boys who don’t mind a giggle.

 

Augusta to come and bye for now,

Marty

 

Day 8 of the Tour: 

Hi again,

The once in a lifetime tour rolls on with an incredible day for the Aussies yesterday.  Followed Ogilvy/Mickelson for 4 holes, then Appleby for 6, then Badds.com/Adam Scott for 15 and finally the fearless Jason Day. All the Aussies have been really accessible and receptive to us/the rev up all week and it’s been incredible to enjoy the surge of unadulterated patriotism & hope that a week like this brings.

 

The 13 tourists have been sensational – decked out in Australian flag suits & Wallaby jumpers, we’ve been boisterous. We’re going to need to be this weekend to counterbalance the Phil & Tiger show, with Tiger in particular looking ominous (it seems he plays his best golf when he’s throwing clubs & testy).

 

Key highlights from today were:

  • Getting a chair down pin high on 18 and walking the course pumping the Aussies
  •  Following Badds, who I’ve built a great rapport with – felt like I was back in the coxswains seat again and I now know what Duggo means when he says he’s got a ‘man crush’.  If he wins, I’m going to church!
  • Coming back to my seat on 18 for the final hour with all the lads to bring home Scotty, Badds, & Jason Day who creamed a drive & put his approach stone dead for a birdie, before a mad rush to the bus to get our badges back
  • The spontaneous rendition of our national anthem in the bus with the boys
  • The tourists – the boys are fizzing like you would not believe (& the article on us on the front page of the Aitken Standard today is a classic)

 

We’ve had brilliant weather, absolutely everything’s gone right, and there’s a real feeling brewing that something special might happen this weekend.  The thought of being there when an Aussie wins for the first time is uplifting everyone (as is the prospect of the after party).  From what I’ve seen, Tiger will be hard to beat, Phil needs to score really well today to be in it & McIroy is a real threat especially if he puts well.  Of the Aussies, Ogilvy is the smoky – hitting it beautifully & been a little unlucky so anything can happen because he’s flying below the radar. Jason Day is playing fearless golf, chancing his arm and scoring well.  There’ll be some ups & downs, but he looks happy & uncomplicated and you just never know when someone’s going to crash through on the big stage.  Any which way, I’ll be there in full voice for what will be a great day for the Aussies.

 

I’m off to play Sage Valley – widely regarded as the next best thing to Augusta!

Marty

 

Day 10 of the Tour:

Hi one & all,

It seems trite to say that yesterday was a day to remember, but it was without doubt, the greatest sporting experience of my life.

 

Most of you would have watched it on TV so you know the story already, but here’s how it unfolded for me:

I started early to lay the chair down, then followed Badds for the first 16 holes – I watched Badds play 60+ holes this week – he hit it OK, couldn’t get the putter working and I’ve come to appreciate just how much of a momentum course Augusta really is.

 

We then weaved back to the 3rd green and saw Tiger in blazing red turn a smashed drive into a simple up & down birdie, followed by Schwartzel’s amazing eagle from the fairway. Atmosphere building quickly…

 

Jumped into a stray chair behind the pin on 6 in the belting sun. It’s extremely hot, bordering on delirious, but we held it together to see Tiger birdie & skip to the hole before sculling 2 large cokes, the first of many.

 

Then the dream pairing of Jason Day and Adam Scott who I picked up on 3, joining an entourage of 200+ friendly and vocal Aussies. Through 3-6, we were hopeful but not overly optimistic – Scotty was solid, Day a little loose. With Tiger running hot, the spectators thinned out and we had more of the course to ourselves!

 

The massive roar for Tiger’s eagle at 8 came from the top of the course down (not the bottom up) and it passed 12.30pm and the beers start flowing for the locals. And then it started – Scotty makes a great birdie 3 on 7 after a booming drive and then both our boys make great 4’s on the par-5 8th, particularly Jason who does so out of the fairway trap. Getting hoarse already and the tourists are all go.

 

martys-mastersScott, who’s hitting it pure and looking very composed, is unlucky to miss birdie on 9 and then booms driver & 3-wood on 10 + 11 to make great pars. Day smashes one 380 yds over the corner on 10 and takes par before spraying right on 11. Harro’s melting beside me in the Aussie flag suit he refuses to take off, claiming it’s a small price to pay for patriotism!

 

Day hits a fearless cut across the water, that looks wet all the way from the pine straw on the right side and makes one of the ballsiest pars of all time! By now the Aussie crowd is chatting like we’ve known each other all our lives and we invade the crowds at Amen corner. Can’t afford to miss a beat so it’s a dash for an unhygienic comfort stop and I’m in thru the out-door for 2 more Cokes with Harro at the Concession.

 

By now, we’re craving data and with manual scoreboard updates, no TV’s on the course and the roars of the crowd from everywhere, the theatre is immense. Thankfully, I can’t see the Augusta National members ever changing to digital score boarding – pity the locals cheer when young Rory melts down on 10.

 

We start running into Yanks on the beers everywhere, lamenting the fact that Tiger hasn’t done enough – we’re fully fledged goodwill ambassadors and the locals know our history here and they get quickly behind the Aussies. We watch Jason take a gutsy line straight to the pin on 12 for a rare birdie with the pin cut right – fearless, again. There’s a lot to like about this bloke!

 

13. Sit down on the rope at 280 yds with Dave and Harro and we watch solid drives from the Aussies. Day hits 4-iron onto left hand front edge and makes a good 2-putt 4 and Scotty strangely lays up with a 7-iron and just misses the birdie putt – bummer. The ‘fanatics’ fear he might regret that decision, but we’re already onto 14. Scoreboard shows 5 players locked at -10, including 3 Aussies after Ogilvy’s birdie tear. Phenomenal vibe – everything’s happening so slowly, but so quickly and all at the same time – it’s firing everywhere … roar, after roar, after roar!

 

14. Scott hits -11 to take the outright lead and a full adrenaline surge runs right thru me. He’s swinging beautifully and it’s really looking likely! Yanks everywhere bemoaning the belly putter, but the Aussies know he’s arrived in full, the final piece of his game now in place.

 

15. Dave and Harro exit for our seats on 18, but I can’t leave and decide to run solo. I perched myself in the stand to watch Scotty miss his first shot of the day – approach right. Both take par after scrappy approaches/chips and I’m starting to develop an anxiety disorder watching our boys putt. Fortunately, they’re holding up far better than I am and I’m immensely proud of their mettle!

 

16. Lay on some thick “g’day mates” to squeeze in on the right hand side of the green with a perfect view of the pin. Watched Scotty’s beautiful tee shot trickle down to the hole and I allowed myself to believe that it might go in. Sure he did too. Birdie 2 for the outright lead and the fairy-tale tour/day/tournament appears to be unravelling in full. I’m starting to fast forward, wanting to believe that this is it, but knowing there’s a lot more left come.

 

17. Scotty tugs his tee shot left of the Eisenhower tree and into the green side bunker on the 7th. Totally unrestrained now & screaming encouragement as they walk past less than 5m away. Jason booms one down the middle and I cross over the fairway fearing carnage. Scotty hits a screamer over the trees to the front trap and he gives me a nod for the simple ‘up and down’ call I make. I stride to the green reflecting on how I’m a long way from Royal Lane Cove where I first uttered those words. Bladder bursting and fearing a playoff, I’m literally the only one in the bathroom behind the 18th tee. Dash back to the green, shake hands with Dipper and watch two great Australians drain puts they simply need to make through ankles and fences. Boom – this really is it!

 

18. Fastest walking of the week (and if I’m honest, 100m of uphill running) up left hand side of 18. Had to loop around to our spot 7-rows back and pin high after narrowly missing the cross over rope past the 18th tee as our boys finished up on 17. Seat 1A Laundy spotted me on arrival and I’m the last of our group to land at the green. It’s heaving. Bit hard to see, but the boys appear to have got off the tee ok. It’s 92 degrees, I’m totally soaked thru and jittery as all hell. My heart splinters when Schwartzel’s birdie on 17 goes up, he’s -13 and we’re out of the lead for the first time in 6 holes. Nooooooooooo! Adam’s solid and Jas’ hits a blinder coming in. For the first time all week, we’re drowned by the noise around 18.  Scotty’s at -12, Jason at -11 and both view the scoreboard & know that birdies are all that counts from here. We had a perfect view of Adam’s putt – not his best of the day, but he putted to make it and missed on the low side at holing speed. Cool hand Jas’ drains another for -12 and I tear up at the thought of many more years watching this. Still it’s not over. Schwartzel strides to his booming drive. I’m trying not to wish him ill will, but can’t help myself. He nails the approach and then, in total silence (bar the odd birds tweet), rolls in a beautiful right-to-left 20 footer to win the Masters. And then, on the 72nd hole, it’s finally over.

 

I’m shattered emotionally, physically spent, but above all else, immensely proud of our boys who gave such a good account of themselves and our country. I’ve no doubt that Adam, Jason & Geoff will be better for this experience – I am. They’ll be back, and so will I.

 

Like I said, if you can do this tour, you simply must.

 

See you all soon,

Marty

Marty Nichols, 

2011 Teed Up US Masters Tour Attendee

http://www.theblackdot.com.au/