AUGUSTA, Ga. – “Is he apping Snapping?”
Flip through your cellphone anywhere else in the world, and no one pays you attention. Everyone probably has their head down in their own phone anyway. But slide your thumbs left to right at Augusta National, and you may as well be holding a unicorn. Mobiles are banned at the gates for patrons.
But not for the players. And so, with a slight backup on the 15th tee during a Tuesday morning practice round for this week’s Masters, Bryson DeChambeau unzipped his bag, pulled out a gray phone and quickly flipped through several screens before putting it back. It drew the comment above from a nearby patron, a reference to Snapchat.
Golf was suspended around 11 am Augusta time. But before then, the balls were in the air, potential bets were made, Bernhard Langer and Larry Mize coordinated a trick shot, and Jon Rahm joked. After the horns sounded, players and patrons left, and beer runs were made and Seamus Power was stopped by security.
With that, here are nine other observations on a rainy day at the Masters.
Jon Rahm ‘threatens’ a camera
Rahm, Sergio Garcia, Joaquin Niemann and Aaron Jarvis (who earned his Masters invite after winning the Latin America Amateur Championship earlier this year) played together, and on the par-4 18th, they played about 5 yards ahead of the tee box. Of course, in practice, anything goes. But what gives?
The wooden markers were no less than 2 yards in front of the ropes. And maybe about a foot in front of a TV camera. It didn’t escape Rahm.
“Let’s swing back here,” he joked, before taking his driver playfully back in the direction of the camera.
‘You must not like 100 dollars’
Shane Lowry and Tommy Fleetwood played together, and before they reached the par-3 16th, a patron told another that the European stars may also have been playing for something else.
“So Fleetwood lays up short on the 15th (a par-5), and I heard Lowery say to him,‘ You must not like 100 dollars, ’” the eavesdropping patron said.
“They must have been betting,” the other boss said.
“They were pretty funny,” one boss said.
Bernhard Langer and Larry Mize, trick-shot artists?
Russell Henley, Langer and Mize were a threesome, and Langer and Mize, both former champions here, helped coordinate a twist on the skipping-the-ball-in-lake-on-16 tradition.
After all three players hit safely on, a patron in the grandstrands to the left of the tee shouted, “Skip it!” A few almost rhythmically joined in. “Skip it.” Louder. “Skip it.” Louder still. “Skiiip iiiit!” And Henley, Langer and Mize did. At once.
Standing side by side a few feet in front of the water, Langer coached Mize and Henley to swing together, they did – and all came up short of the green.
And they were booed.
Bryson DeChambeau, a trick-shot artist, too?
DeChambeau also played to the gallery on 16, though it came from behind the green. As he was chipping to a potential pin location, DeChambeau balanced a ball on his wedge, flipped it up, then hit it behind him to a patron – who dropped it and was heard being booed about 100 yards away.
DeChambeau tried again, and another patron dropped it. More boos. On a third go, success.
‘He plays like me’
Back to DeChambeau again. After flipping through his cell phone, and a quick conversation with playing partner and US Amateur champ James Piot about where he was staying this week, he hit his drive right on 15.
“It’s doing it again,” he told caddy Brian Zeigler, pointing to the face of his driver. Piot then hit, and DeChambeau reloaded twice.
The second went right. Zeigler offered a word to DeChambeau on his downswing. His third tee shot went straight.
“Hit as many as you want,” a boss shouted. Piot’s cart, Dan Ellis, laughed.
“He plays like me,” another yelled.
No cellphones – but you can make calls
Back to the cellphone ban. While you can’t make calls from your mobile at Augusta, you can still dial out.
One of the most popular spots on Tuesday – and a fun place to eavesdrop – was a bank of phones near the 1st fairway. Calls are free, and if you stood around for a few minutes, you heard dozens of “Hey, I’m calling from the 1st hole at Augusta.”
“Yes, Augusta National.”
‘It’s just like home!’
Newcomers are easy to spot here – look for the wider eyes and the craning necks. And the innocent comments upon seeing Augusta National for the first time.
The rough “doesn’t seem very penal,” one patron said to another while walking to the right of the 14th fairway. (For the record, here are the grass lengths this week, courtesy of Augusta National – 5 / 16ths of an inch on the tee box, 3 / 8ths of an inch on the fairway, 1 3 / 8ths of an inch in the first cut , a quarter of an inch around the collars, 5/16 of an inch on the green surrounds, and 1/8 of an inch on the greens.
Another patron, while walking up the left side of the 18th fairway, was taken for a second by something not in front of him, but below.
“A sprinkler head with yardage,” he said.
“Just like home.”
‘What is the longest way back to the clubhouse?’
When the storms were within range of Augusta, a siren rang, an announcement was made, and fans squeezed in every last drop of their Tuesday at the Masters.
In one case, quite literally. Near a concession stand to the left of the 1st hole, one patron held three cups of beers and began to do the math.
“What is the longest way back to the clubhouse? ” he asked.
Even the players need to show their IDs
As patrons scrambled after the announcement, so did players. To the right of the driving range, Power, making his first Masters appearance, tried to get him and his bag to his car.
An officer dutifully doing his job checked for ID Then checked it again.
“Is this good?” Power innocently asked.
After a second, he was let through.
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