Live from The Masters - Patrons come to life on Day Six
There is one thing you must always remember about the 40,000 people who walk through the gates of Augusta National each day during Masters week. They are not fans. Nor are they a crowd or even a gallery. They are patrons.
Get that distinction wrong and it's likely you'll receive the cold shoulder from the Masters leadership. CBS commentator Jack Whitaker made the grave mistake of referring to a patron gallery as a "mob" during a 1966 telecast. He wasn't invited back.
But in order to be treated with such regard, that respect must be reciprocated. Patrons must act like patrons - not like fans. That means no running while on the grounds, no mobile phones or cameras, and certainly no unwarranted yelling from behind the ropes.
PLAYER OF THE DAY
Miguel Angel Jimenez: made Masters history on Saturday by tying the record for the lowest score shot by a player age 50 or older. He fired seven birdies in a round of 66.
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The 2013 PGA Championship was plagued by inane shouts from the gallery...
...from your standard annoying "get in the hole" to the slightly more advanced "rutabaga". Neither are in the vocabulary of an Augusta patron.
Bobby Jones Jnr, co-founder of the Masters, writes in his guide to conduct, customs and etiquette... "It is appropriate for spectators to applaud successful strokes in proportion to difficulty but excessive demonstrations by a player or his partisans are not proper because of the possible effect upon other competitors." In other words, any of that "mashed potatoes" or "Baba Booey" nonsense and you'll be escorted to the front gates.
For the most part, Masters patrons have a reputation as "the most knowledgeable and considerate in the world", according to Jones. They know when to remain quiet and respectful, and perhaps just as importantly, how to play their role in creating arguably the greatest piece of theatre on the sporting calendar each year.
"It's just uncanny when you're out on the course," says two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw. "You can hear the cheers and the groans at Augusta like no other place. Most golfers playing in the tournament develop an innate feeling about what the roars mean. There's a birdie roar and an eagle roar and a bogey groan. You even get to know who they are for. There was no mistaking a roar for Arnold Palmer or Jack Nicklaus or Tom Watson. "
For players and spectators at Augusta National, these frequent sonic detonations from around the course supercharge the atmosphere. That's especially true on the weekend when the stakes increase with each shot and the leaders are concentrated in the final groups.
In recent years, a particularly explosive, elongated roar told players one thing: here comes Tiger.
On Saturday afternoon, the honours for the biggest roar were shared. The patrons, exercising the "applaud in relation to difficulty" rule, were heard audibly throughout the course when overnight leader Bubba Watson drained a six-footer for eagle on the par-5 second. The airwaves hinted at a similar feat when Justin Rose holed out a lengthy chip for a 3 on the same hole.
You could sense the move of Matt Kuchar, who put together three consecutive birdies from 13-15 to move within one of the lead heading into Sunday. And didn't the patrons love it when Jordan Spieth took a share of the lead with a superbly crafted approach to the 14th.
The soundtrack provided each year by the patrons has become almost as important to the Masters as the players themselves. I rate being on course to hear them live in full chorus as one of the greatest things I've experienced in my life.
STAT OF THE DAY
Gary Woodland matched the lowest score ever on the front nine at Augusta with a 6-under 30. He finished the round at 3-under.
|In contention... Ricky Fowler is two back||The patrons... the lifeblood of the Masters||Long John... one of golf's true characters|
SOMETIMES it's comforting to see that even the pros can stuff up a hole as badly as you and I. But it would take a cold soul not to feel for poor old Brandt Snedeker on Saturday.
Snedeker, who broke down in a post-round interview after blowing the lead in the 2008 Masters, added further pain to his recollections of Augusta with an unbelievable five-putt from three feet on the fourth hole. That's not a typo – three feet! The slick green simply bamboozled the World No.19 as he racked up a quadruple-bogey 7. You can watch it here.
I MENTIONED yesterday that John Daly had agreed to catch up for a chat in his familiar post outside Hooters. He was a good sport.
While 'Long John' doesn't exactly scream 'golfing traditionalist' in the way he acts or what he wears, that's clearly the way he likes his golf; revealing that St Andrews is his favourite course.
"To me, there is nothing like the British Open theme," he said. "You've got to have such an imagination to play the type of links golf courses we play at the British Open and I've always loved it."
|John Daly speaks to Your Golf Travel at the 2014 Masters|