Our journalist realizes a dream on the course of the Masters Tournament

AUGUSTA | The opportunity of a lifetime. The ultimate wish of any golfer. An incredible day that will forever be etched in my memory. I have dreamed of this round, of following in the footsteps of the greatest golfers in history on the pristine fairways of Augusta National for 25 years. It is now done.

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It seemed like just yesterday when I stood in front of the television watching in awe as Tiger Woods inflicted one of the greatest beatings on his opponents in the history of the sport. It was in 1997.

Golf quickly became a passion for the two men in the family, my father and me. And how I wished he could have been there to live this unique moment. I know he was from Montreal. But I thought about it all day savoring every second for him and all the people who supported me.

Because entering the property at 2604 Washington Road is not an easy task. I won the lottery among the press fraternity members who covered the Masters Tournament. There were 28 of us from the written press. Otherwise, you have to count on a miraculous invitation or that of a good friend who is among the approximately 350 members of the Georgian club.

Single chance

Yesterday was my chance. At 11:40 a.m., it was the long-awaited hour in the dreams of the past 25 years. On a beautiful sunny day and beautiful conditions, I slammed and pushed my ball for 4:30 on the most beautiful playground in the world.


Our journalist François-David Rouleau posed proudly in front of the Augusta National yesterday, he who had the chance to play a round at the legendary Georgia State Golf Club.

Photo courtesy, Jon McCarthy

Our journalist François-David Rouleau posed proudly in front of the Augusta National yesterday, he who had the chance to play a round at the legendary Georgia State Golf Club.

I’d walked those aisles, across the ropes, six times for Masters coverage. In the heat of the action, right in the middle of the aisles, the adventure is even more incredible.

The grass is perfect, as are the playing conditions. Not a hair sticks out. Nowhere. I therefore better understood the humorous remark of the members in green jackets who approach us during the week of the tournament asking us if we have seen an imperfection. She is impossible to find.


He did well on the course that hosts the Masters Tournament as evidenced by his scorecard.

PhotoAFP

He did well on the course that hosts the Masters Tournament as evidenced by his scorecard.

I understood why the pros want so much to participate in the Masters Tournament. I also got the full weight of Tiger Woods’ speech after the final round on Sunday when he praised the significance of this course to him.

Devilish Greens

Although even harder to walk than I already knew, this course is one of real charm to tackle. It tests all facets of the game and the mind.

I am not a professional, but I know how to play golf as demonstrated, without any boasting, by my index of 6.1.

But I had never faced such diabolical greens as Augusta National. You have to know how to use creativity and confidence before executing a shot, both on the surface and around the greens during a short approach. It is not uncommon to have to aim more than 30 feet from the flag for the ball to approach it afterwards.

Luckily, Clinton, my youngest, advised me throughout the afternoon.

I made a lot of great shots, especially from the tee boxes where I managed to have a blast. As the pennants approached, however, it was a different story. Despite high trajectories, my ball often bounced on greens as firm as a concrete road. Which left me with several approach shots as delicate as they were stressful.

But since I wasn’t playing for the green jacket, I put the emphasis on the experience and the delirium of every little moment.

Among my brilliant shots, I’m particularly proud of a birdie at Flowering Crab Apple, that 170-yard par-3 at the fourth flag, following a near-perfect 7-iron shot that stopped six feet away. of the cut.


He lived a dream by facing in particular this 13th hole, a par 5 of 455 yards, whose green is lined with numerous sand traps.

Photo François-David Rouleau

He lived a dream by facing in particular this 13th hole, a par 5 of 455 yards, whose green is lined with numerous sand traps.

Amen Corner

After pars on the 9th and 10th, one of the most difficult holes on the course, I committed the unforgivable by drowning my ball three times rather than once in Rae’s Creek, in the heart of Amen Corner, on the 12th.

I wanted to go where the big ones have gone. Well, the golf gods have taken care of that! However, it should be laughed at. And Woods scored a 10 there in 2020. So it’s not that bad.

And I saved three of my best shots for Firetorn, this par 5 of the 15th, 475 yards long, thanks in particular to a solid slap that made “Clint” smile.

Better than the champ!

On the climb towards the green of the 18th, I began to reflect on this wonderful day while contemplating the property. I finished in style with two putts, unlike the champion Scottie Scheffler, who had done four the day before before putting on his green jacket. A wink that made my playmates laugh.

As soon as Magnolia Lane was in my rear window, I hastened to call my father to tell him about the experience and each shot, taking great care to reveal Clinton’s exact distances. It’s as if he was there.

The dream, what!

A legendary climb

At 10:40 a.m. sharp, I showed up at the door of 2604 Washington Road. It is impossible to advance the arrival time, even by one minute. I then slowly climbed the mythical Magnolia Lane, about 350 yards long and lined with 61 magnolias on each side. This leads to the Circle of Founders in front of the majestic pavilion. Once warmly welcomed, I went up to the champions’ locker room to drop off my personal belongings. My group and I occupied the locker of the legendary Ben Hogan, champion of the Masters in 1951 and 1953, and Raymond Floyd, master of 1976.

The green jacket is displayed in a luxurious display case along with the defending champion’s trophy and artifacts.

After a few photos, it’s time to head to the driving range, the same one used by the pros. Completely insane installations that are replicas of what we find on the course.

Two overriding questions

Each blow brings its share of questions… and fears. Throughout this round, the cadet directs his “boss”. Two questions are paramount before executing to avoid finding yourself solidly in trouble: what is the distance and what is the target. Clinton therefore gave me the exact distance to the pennant and the preferred target. Sometimes it was in a particular, uncomfortable direction. You have to be creative on this course and let the slopes do the work.

The grain to Amen Corner

Listening to the best pros on the planet and seeing them perform on these lightning-fast surfaces for years, I knew the greens were very special. However, with both feet on the surfaces, it’s a whole different matter. Luckily, my caddie Clinton guided me. A line that one would think good is really not. You have to know how to read the grain and the subtle slopes. “Clint” told me that the grain of the greens is oriented towards Amen Corner. It is therefore always necessary to know where you are on the course in relation to this strategic point. And curiously, the surface of the 12th green, Golden Bell, right in the heart of Amen Corner, is the slowest. The advice of my faithful companion has been invaluable to me.

Select and closed club

Do not fit who wants in the membership of Augusta National. It is made up of about 350 members, but this list would reach more than 600 names since its foundation in 1932. Impossible to file a request for entry. Each nomination is studied. Some of America’s wealthiest and most reputable businessmen and corporate executives are members, including Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. A handful of women are also there. According to a Golf.com magazine article from April 2019, the price of entry is around $40,000. The annual costs would not be more expensive than elsewhere as they vary at a few thousand dollars. The season runs from October to May.

  • Listen to François-David Rouleau’s story with Jean-François Baril and Philippe-Vincent Foisy on QUB radio:

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