He’s not in the field this week, but Charles Howell III, one of the PGA Tour’s most consistent performers, has some interesting tales from growing up in Augusta, Georgia.
The man they call Chucky Three Sticks is ranked comfortably inside the top-25 on the PGA tour money-list, and he credits some of his success with growing up around a major tournament. While speaking to bunkered for issue 192 of the magazine, the three-time PGA Tour winner revealed what it was like to be a member at Augusta Country Club, next door to Augusta National.
For most golf fans, getting onto the hallowed ground of Augusta National is an unattainable dream, for a young Howell though, it was a reality, just not always through the conventional channels.
“It was right there,” he admitted to bunkered, “We would sneak down there and hit some bunker shots and hit some putts and you would see security coming and you’d run back up.
“There was a hole in the fence back there and we would sneak onto Amen Corner and we could run down and putt some on the 12th green.
“We would kind of tee off on the 13th but you had to leave the ball because you couldn’t go out and grab the ball before you really got in trouble. Now, they bought that land from Augusta Country Club back there and you can’t get down there anymore, so the junior golfers of today can’t do what we did. But, oh, absolutely we did that. No doubt about it."
While Charles might have got some free practice on perhaps the most famous stretch of holes in the world, he also gave some credit to the Masters coming to town every year with his success on the tour.
“We had a great junior programme but if any of us lost any motivation at all, The Masters came around and it got us all excited to play and practice again,” he continued.
“There’s no way I can ever fathom how big the event was until I got older. When I got older to see it all, it absolutely just blew me away. I mean, holy cow, this is Augusta, Georgia, where I grew up and look how big this event is on a worldwide stage.”
Charles Howell III has played The Masters plenty of times, with his best finish coming back in 2004 where he tied for 13th. Last week at the Valero Texas Open, he finished in a tie for fourth. A victory would have gained him a spot in the field this week, but he came up just short.
The Masters begins on Thursday and bunkered.co.uk will have extensive coverage online and on social media.
Read a full-length interview with Charles Howell III in issue 192 of bunkered, on sale now.