With The Masters in full swing, Nick is working with us to break down the huge bucket list experience of attending The Masters.
His maiden appearance at Augusta National in 2008 was more than respectable, making the cut and finishing in a tie for 33. Since then, Nick has been at the forefront of Sky’s immense coverage of The Masters and once again finds himself on the hallowed turf this year.
Here’s our exclusive Q&A with Nick, all the way from Augusta…
What’s your earliest Memory of The Masters?
1989 - Nick Faldo won his first Masters and second major after beating Scott Hoch in a play-off. I remember as a young boy wanting to play on that course so much - that was when the relationship blossomed.
And that dream turned into reality in 2008, how was that experience?
Unforgettable. With such a small field, The Masters is really difficult to qualify for and when I finally did, the childhood dream became a reality. Turning up to Augusta and knowing you’re being a part of a rich history is a special feeling. As a rookie, playing all four days was amazing, with the highlight being 69 on day two, four birdies on the last six!
Since then, you’ve been working at The Masters in a different capacity, this year as lead anchor - Are you excited?
It’s a real honour to be lead anchor, this is actually my first time back at Augusta since playing; unfortunately my mum passed away shortly after the 2008 tournament, so it’s an emotional return.
Of course, this side of the ropes is very different, but being able to tell the story of The Masters to people who are excited by the season’s first major is brilliant - it’s quite surreal being back on the property.
Your Golf Travel have nearly 1000 customers travelling to The Masters this week, what advice would you give to anyone coming with us?
To be at The Masters is a real bucket list experience, so I’d encourage anyone going to make the most of it, because not many people get the opportunity.
Take in every moment - you can’t take cameras in on tournament days and it’s a blessing in disguise. Seeing Tiger play at The Masters should be seen through your own eyes, rather than through a lens.
It really is a place of beauty, even down to the smell of the azaleas. Definitely try and get to every hole and appreciate the detail - it’s so impressive!
Also, don’t forget to check out the clubhouse and soak up the history, remembering to grab some merch to take back with you as a reminder of your experience.
So what are your favourite courses which you could add on to a Masters trip?
Obviously you have to consider budget and timings, but I really would urge anyone attending to try and play at the Harbour Town Links, it’s world class. The tour goes there the week for the RBC Heritage, so get a round in before The Masters.
Closer to Augusta [National], there are loads of local courses which boast similarities to Augusta. Columbia Country Club is a great one, I think you guys filmed there last year?
We did indeed! What about Augusta itself, what makes that so magical?
When visiting iconic venues in golf, the expectation is high, none more than Augusta. I can promise you, it goes so far above and beyond what you’d expect.
It’s actually quite an emotional experience, you’re suddenly back in your childhood reliving the memories of amazing players and past tournaments.
Being back here has blown me away, the undulations are crazy and it’s actually really hilly. But one thing is for sure, they look after this place so well, even the pinestraw where the spectators walk around is immaculate.
3 top tips for someone heading to The Masters?
Practice days at The Masters..is this something the players enjoy?
Yes I think so, I certainly did.
A lot of the players will be there for the first time and, as a participant, you need to get that ‘wow factor’ out of your system. It’s a great opportunity to gauge the crowds, find your feet and get comfortable on the hallowed turf.
Practice days are all part of the build-up, the calm before the storm if you like. The electricity around the par 3 tournament is very special and creates memories of a lifetime for the players.
And when golfers aren’t in the grounds or playing golf - what can they do in Augusta?
During Masters week Augusta is absolutely bouncing with energy and the restaurants and bars are full of fans enjoying themselves.
A food recommendation would be the Frog Hollow Tavern - it has a great reputation and is a popular choice for fans heading to Augusta - the wine list might have something to do with that.
In the evening I’ve heard great things about the Soul Bar for a few drinks and live music..there’s something for everyone.
Right then, what do you think of this year’s tournament?
It’s never been more open in my opinion. There are so many favourites involved and the course is looking fantastic, I think something special can happen this weekend.
With a bit of rain, the course is going to play its full length, which will favour the big hitters like DJ, Rory etc - it’s funny that despite all the technology in the game today, just how much of an influence the weather can have.
The hype has been building for a while now and the sense of excitement is just building every minute - I can’t wait.
The Masters 2019 winner?
It’s a tough one, because of the quality of the field. Tiger has won since his last appearance here and of course has an amazing history with four green jackets. He’s shown glimpses recently with four top 25 finishes and a decent match play performance in Austin
Then Rory McIlroy, the man in form. He’s after the grand slam and potentially this is his best opportunity. If he stays patient and keeps the right attitude he could definitely do it.
Finally, there's Justin Rose, the world number one golfer. He has a great game for this golf course and has finished 2nd in 2015 and 2017. If he putts well, he could be tough to beat. With a win in Torrey Pines in January, he'll be hungry for more success this weekend.