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Within the history of the Masters, Ben Crenshaw’s name is writ large.
He was the low amateur, meaning the amateur who plays the most effective that week, in back-to-back years, 1972 and 1973. In 1984, he won the tournament, besting Tom Watson by two strokes. But it surely’s his 1995 victory at age 43 that’s one for the history books.
Just days after his coach and mentor Harvey Penick died, he paired again with Carl Jackson, the Augusta National Golf Club caddie, to win by one shot. When the ultimate putt dropped, Crenshaw draped himself around Jackson in an emotional embrace on the 18th green.
Crenshaw, 70, hasn’t played within the tournament since 2015, but he has turn into a guiding presence on the annual Champions Dinner. He can also be among the many top golf course architects. He and his business partner, Bill Coore, have designed or renovated a half dozen courses rated in the highest 100 on the planet.
Ahead of his fiftieth Masters, Crenshaw spoke concerning the course, the players and the history. The next has been edited and condensed.
How has the experience of the tournament modified through the years?
With modern golf, I’m amazed how Augusta National has striven to maintain up with the times. They’ve stretched the length of the holes almost as much as they possibly could in plenty of instances. However the actual intent of playing the golf course could be very much the identical. You continue to need to drive the ball right into a position so you will have the most effective angle into those greens. In our day there was no second cut [of the higher grass just off the fairway that was instituted in 1998] — it was cut grass in every single place you looked. The ball would keep running. It was very strategic in that regard. There have been plenty of instances where an errant tee ball could run into trouble.
Augusta National will play 7,510 yards this 12 months, 300 yards longer than the common PGA Tour course. Still, it’s the greens, not the length, that challenge the most effective players. What are they like?
The greens are remarkable in the way in which they play. It’s the contours of those greens and what can occur to the ball. From a player’s standpoint, Augusta National could be very much concerning the approach shot to the green. But you learn the course over time. You don’t go on to the flagstick. You play over there to get where you’re going. When a player is attempting to practice and learn the golf course, you’ll see the newcomers go to many spots across the greens and hit these chips and little short shots. You may’t practice them enough. I’d hit them from various spots; I’d hit it somewhere I hadn’t been.
So distance matters less?
Let’s face it, much of the emphasis is on how far people can hit the ball and what advantage they’ve. That’s true. But when you look over the champions list there are such a lot of individuals with various distances off the tee. It would at all times reward the long hitter who hits it where it needs to be.
You were the low amateur within the ’70s, and a winner within the ’80s and ’90s. What challenged you over the a long time?
The course goads you into taking possibilities. You recognize when you don’t bring that shot off, you usually suffer the implications of missing by a really small margin. In the event you miss a spot on the green, the ball might go 60, 70 feet away from where you would like it to go. Nobody can play secure and win at Augusta. You’ve got to take possibilities to attain. Nothing gives you more confidence than while you hit an excellent shot. It puts the joy in the sport. There was nothing like being in contention at Augusta and hearing the group.
What’s the conversation like on the Champions Dinner?
After we’re on the dinner all of us go searching the table and we’re seeing different eras of golf. The conversation among the many champions is at all times how they played, who you were chasing, who were your pursuers, what possibilities did you are taking. There’s a thread woven through all of us that we’re very fortunate to be in that room. You usually need to ask Jack Nicklaus or Gary Player or Vijay Singh: “You faced this shot, and also you knew you needed to take a probability there. Did it come off as you planned?” We faced the identical challenges, and we got through it.