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Getting Masters Ready: Watching and Learning from the Best

By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Published on

Justin Thomas of the United States plays his shot from the ninth tee during a practice round prior to the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.Getty Images

Nowhere else in golf do we see the pre-tournament prep players perform being highlighted more than we do at The Masters. From the best-in-class practice facility that Augusta National Golf Club boasts, to the magnificent par three course, to the coverage of an on-course practice round, The Masters is unlike any other event in giving us a glimpse inside what the best of the best routinely do on the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of a tournament week.
It has been a privilege since becoming a PGA member in 2009, to be able to walk the grounds, and take it all in during this very special week at Augusta National. Not only does The Masters provide a glimpse into the early week preparations of the players to the television viewer, or those following on the event app and website, but it has done an absolutely amazing job of providing a unique viewing experience for those on ground.
What we can learn from seeing this highlighted…
Most already know that the best players in the world work harder than 90% of golfers that play the game. Yes, there is indeed a great deal of talent that plays a part, but, the bigger reason for the successes that Tour Professionals obtain is a direct result of the work and planning that happens on Monday-Wednesday.
Playing golf for a living obviously means that this is a job for those that do so. With that in mind, it is completely understandable that most golfers can simply not put in the hours professionals do. However, we can absolutely learn from what we see this week at Augusta in terms of how they practice.
Each player is unique in how they specifically lay out their own schedule, but, for the most part, we see something like the following play out…
Two range sessions, each day, with one usually in the morning and one in the afternoon.
  • Work in those range sessions checking data from a radar of some sort
  • Work on hitting shots required for that week based on layout, how susceptible greens will be, what type of weather they may face, wind direction, etc.
Extensive short game sessions
  • Working on chipping, pitching and bunker play in terms of technique
  • Working on chipping, pitching and bunker play in terms of how the ball will react on the greens that week
Extensive putting sessions
  • Working on technique
  • Working on getting a feel for how the greens will roll that particular week
On course/Practice Rounds
  • Typically play 9 or 18 holes at least two times total, Monday through Wednesday (may or may not include a Pro- Am, and in the case of The Masters, the Wednesday Par 3 contest)
  • Not typically playing for score, but rather, hitting a variety of shots based on potential situations that may arise during tournament rounds (Example: dropping balls around greens hitting short game shots to pin positions for the week)
  • Getting yardages, from various spots on each hole, to use as intel during tournament play
Since we have this opportunity each April, during the first major of the year at Augusta, and get to see how the best of the best put in their work, we might as well take notes. In a scaled down version, based on our own unique situations, we would all be better served by taking this example and incorporating it into our own routines.