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Augusta National is many things but what it is most is an assault on the senses. In a good way, of course.

The sights are the most obvious. The yellow flags fluttering in the breeze; the emerald fairways and the brilliant white bunkers; the towering pines; the dazzling pink azaleas; the wide-eyed, smiling, sunburnt faces of the patrons; the green jackets; the caddies’ boiler suits; the picture-postcard splendour of Amen Corner, a view so familiar and pretty that it’s hard to process with one’s own eyes.

Then there are the tastes. The savoury heat of pimento cheese sandwiches; the chill sweetness of Georgia peach ice cream; the intoxicating satisfaction of Crow’s Nest lager. Which is to say nothing of the BBQ sliders, chocolate chip cookies and the iconic Masters Club sandwiches.

The pine needles and freshly-mown grass combine to create a rich and pleasant aroma, interrupted only occasionally by over-powering plumes of cigar smoke and the acrid stench of petrol spewing from the buggies that chug up and down the cart paths.

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And yet it is the sounds that are perhaps most compelling. Certainly, they’re the most interesting. The appreciative golf claps; the spontaneous roars that follow hole-outs and momentous putts; the wind whistling through the trees; the chirps of birds you never see; the chaotic buzz of the golf shop. It is an acoustic experience unlike any other.

It was in pursuit of further such stimulation that I went for a walk this morning. It’s like Ernest Hemingway once said: “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” In more ways than one, it’s sound advice.

Turn left when you leave the Press Building and you’ll find yourself swept up by the throngs of patrons streaming towards the course. It’s a constant flow, very much like a flesh-and-bone Rae’s Creek.

I tuned in to the American man behind me as I walked.

“I sure hope DeChambeau” – he pronounced it DEE-sham-bo – “comes back to the field today. I don’t like all this science hooey.”

“I don’ know,” drawled his companion. “Trouble is we don’ know how he’s playing on the LIV Tour and, anyway, I’m not sure they got a jacket big enough for his arms.”

Keep going and you pass the Golf Shop on your right. By 9am, the queue was already several hundred deep.

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“Somebody said it’s a 60-minute wait to get in,” said a woman walking alongside me.

“All that for a gnome,” replied her husband.

“They’ll probably all be on eBay later.”

“Yeah, for ten times the price.”


As a succession of private jets whirred overhead on their final approach into nearby Daniel Field – arriving, no doubt, in anticipation of missed cuts – I decided to go into the clubhouse for breakfast. One of the unique privileges of a Masters media credential is that it is, for the most part, an Access All Areas pass. This place gets it, even if it doesn’t always get it right.

The clubhouse is a small, airy building. The main room has an impressive, oversized replica of the Masters champion’s trophy on display to the right as you walk in and cosy sofas to the right. Wearing her green jacket, recent Augusta member Annika Sorenstam was busily scanning the tee times on one of the computers provided, whilst copies of various Bobby Jones books – The Greatest Of Them All by Martin Davis, The Greatest Game Ever Played by Mark Frost, The Boys Life Of Bobby Jones by O.B. Keeler – occupied the tables, both coffee and side.

In the hall beyond, a narrow spiral staircase leads you upstairs to the main dining area. It was full when I arrived, so I took a table on the terrace instead. There are few vantage points quite like it. It’s al fresco dining at its best. The first tee is right ‘there’ and you can reach out at touch the branches of The Big Oak Tree. One of Augusta’s most prominent landmarks, it is dates back to the 1850s. It might require an elaborate combination of wires to keep it upright these days but it’s no less impressive.

The breakfast menu has something for everything. Rancher’s eggs, southern grits, vanilla pancakes, steel cut oatmeal, you name it. I settled on the ‘two eggs any style’ and, whilst I waited for it to arrive, I casually eavesdropped on the conversation between the two young couples at the table next to me.

“He’s here?” one of the women gasped. “As in, actually here? Are you sure it’s him?”

Before I could reassure her that, yes, it was me and that, hey, despite the huge success of The bunkered Podcast, I’m just a regular guy, I realised they were talking about Harry Styles. The actor-musician was spotted taking in the action on Thursday (following South African amateur Christo Lamprecht) and, by all accounts, was back on the property today.

“Ohmygodilovehim,” exclaimed the other woman at the table.

“He’s got some good songs,” conceded her partner. “I like that Strawberry Melon High one.”

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I resisted the urge to correct him – you don’t have to be a Harry stan to know that it’s Watermelon Sugar High – and, instead, kept listening.

“Is he a good golfer?”

“He has amazing hair!”

“Didn’t he date Taylor Swift?”


Suitably fed and watered – and, frankly, entertained – I settled my bill ($32 for my food, two coffees and an orange juice) and resumed my saunter. I poked my head around the door of the Grill Room, just off to the left of the main clubhouse entrance, where former Open champion Tom Lehman was eating breakfast alone. A table for one, for the one-time major winner, who spent one week as world No.1.

With my feet as my compass, I decided to walk out to Amen Corner. Down the right-hand side of ten, I encountered two men stumbling around the pine straw, each of them wearing the kind of confused expression reserved for the hopelessly lost.

“I’m certain it was around here.”

“No, no, it was definitely over there.”

“Are you sure?”


It didn’t take long to figure out that they were looking for the place from which Bubba Watson hit the remarkable recovery that paved the way for his first Green Jacket in 2012.

“I mean, how is that even possible?” said one of the men after they had settled on the most likely spot. “Shows you just how good these guys are.”

Walking down 11 and standing behind 12, the galleries got increasingly bigger – an explosion of khaki, caps and polos – and so it was only possible to pick out pieces of conversations.

“…going there on Monday…”

“…I’d shake your hand but I broke my thumb last week…”

“…well, Holy shit, ain’t that something…”

“…I wish I had my cell phone…”

“…probably a 7-iron for me…”

Behind the small grandstand at the 12th, there’s a concession stand that you probably don’t know about. Augusta officials have done an extraordinary job of camouflaging it amongst the trees.

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With the mercury rising, I figured I could use a lemonade to see me back to the Press Building and I walked in just ahead of four spry American men in their late fifties, early sixties. They were talking about the spectacle of Amen Corner.

“I wouldn’t say I was moved by it,” said one. “I mean, it’s pretty and all but it’s just a couple of golf holes. I don’t think you can be moved by something like that.”

“Frank,” said one of his friends, interrupting. “You really are a dumbass.”


As I walked back towards the clubhouse, Adrian Meronk was launching a drive on eight. It was evidently the first time some there had seen the big-hitting Pole up close.

“Dang!” declared a man standing next to me. “How do they do that?”

I made it back to The Big Oak Tree just as Tiger Woods emerged to start his second round. A huge crowd was already waiting. For Tiger, of course. Not me.

“Go Tiger!”


“Let’s go!”

Whatever other challenges he might endure, Woods will never have to worry about receiving the adoration of Masters patrons. As he launched his first shot of the round, the cacophonous din to which he and we have become accustomed filled the air.

It may well, in fact, be Augusta’s signature sound.

A competitive field, for sure.

author headshot

Michael McEwan is the Deputy Editor of bunkered and has been part of the team since 2004. In that time, he has interviewed almost every major figure within the sport, from Jack Nicklaus, to Rory McIlroy, to Donald Trump. The host of the multi award-winning bunkered Podcast and a member of Balfron Golfing Society, Michael is the author of three books and is the 2023 PPA Scotland 'Writer of the Year' and 'Columnist of the Year'. Dislikes white belts, yellow balls and iron headcovers. Likes being drawn out of the media ballot to play Augusta National.

Deputy Editor

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