A muddy start to The Masters doesn’t stop patrons or players

By |  April 11, 2019 0 Comments

Photo: Golfdom staff

Photo: Golfdom staff

The dominant sight, sound and smell during Tuesday’s practice rounds of The Masters was mud. Fresh, red, Georgia mud.

Downpours and thunderstorms forced course closure on Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning. After a few hours of on and off rain on Tuesday, thunderstorms moved into the area and the course was cleared around 10 a.m. and stayed that way for several hours. But once the sun came out on Tuesday afternoon, the crowds followed as thousands flocked to the hallowed grounds at Augusta National.

Despite the mud, which made every effort to either suck off your shoes or bring you to the ground, the playing areas of the course were mostly pristine. While people slip-slided their way down hills, the SubAir system was running at full throttle to keep fairways and greens dry for tournament play in the days ahead.

Course conditions kept many players on the practice greens on Tuesday afternoon — including Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth — but there were a few familiar faces out on the course. In the latter part of the day, patrons were able to catch a glimpse of Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson on the front nine, Kevin Kisner and Kevin Na on the back, and a few other brave souls.

And with sunny and dry weather on Wednesday for the par 3 tournament, conditions should be just about perfect for this weekend. Patrons of The Masters are looking forward to getting to experience Augusta National in its full glory and see a few more pros out on the course.

One such spectator is Ryan Franklin, superintendent at St. Petersburg Country Club in St. Petersburg, Fla.

This is Franklin’s first trip to The Masters. He’s been a superintendent for 10 years, three of those at St. Petersburg CC, and he received his Class A membership from the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America just this past Sunday.

Today, Franklin was awed by his first experience at Augusta. “Walking in here is very humbling and really exciting,” he says. “After walking the grounds and walking around Amen Corner, the course is looking flawless.”

Besides seeing the course conditions — as any good superintendent would — Franklin says he is excited about the tradition. The environment and the overall passion for golf that is overwhelmingly present at The Masters are two of the things that appeal to him the most.

“The service is amazing, and it’s such a great tradition to be a part of,” he adds. “You can sit in one spot and see all these amazing players — Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Tiger, Phil … it’s incredible.”

Franklin is taking in the Masters this year with a group of superintendents he recently met from the West Palm Beach area in Florida, some of whom are Augusta veterans.

“I never even thought I would be here,” he adds. “We all strive for perfection and Augusta National is our standard.”

And despite the mud, it really does seem to be a perfect course.

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