By petedirenzo
Monday, April 02, 2012

The blooming azaleas are as much a part of the Masters at Augusta National as the green jacket. However, due to an especially mild winter, those pink and white flowers might be gone before the tournament starts this year. Michael Buteau from Bloomberg News has the details:

Most of the thousands of azaleas that line the fairways of Augusta National Golf Club probably are already in full bloom due to a warmer-than-usual winter, and may lose their flower petals by the time the tournament starts, local horticulturists said.
To prevent early flowering, officials of the Augusta, Georgia, club sometimes deposit “dump trucks full” of ice on the roots of azalea bushes to halt the bloom, according to Matthew Chappell, an assistant professor of horticulture at the University of Georgia’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Science.
“I don’t know if they’re going to be able to hold the plants back enough,” Chappell said in a telephone interview last week. “We’re so far ahead of schedule, we might miss the bloom. The possibility exists that they could have bloomed out by the time the Masters is played.”
What Tiger's wearing at Augusta National via Nike Golf 549063612

Geoff Ogilvy names the toughest chip shots at Augusta On the website of his course-design firm Ogilvy Clayton
Still, there’s more to it than mere appearances. Mowing the grass like that makes the course play longer because the ball doesn’t run as far as it might otherwise. When you look at footage from the Masters of maybe 20 years ago, you see balls bounding down fairways. The players got a lot of run out of their shots back then, far more than we do today. But that’s not all bad. Today’s slower turf does have the effect of making the landing areas play “wider.”
Actually, that slowness plays a much more significant role in the short game, especially chipping. Because the grass is always running against you, the fringes are much more passive than the putting surfaces. I’ll bet the speed differential between fringe and green at Augusta National is bigger than anywhere else in golf. All of which makes judging exactly where to land the ball unbelievably tricky. It’s why so many guys struggle from just off the greens at the Masters.
One of the toughest chips you can face on the course is from right of the 11th green, a spot where it seems at least one player in every group is playing from during the tournament. Bailing out away from the water is very tempting but no bargain. It is almost impossible to land a chip short on that green with any confidence; you just don’t know what the ball is going to do after it pitches. Then when it does get on the green it invariably races away. It’s such a subtle test, but one that gives the course much of its character.
The same is true behind the 15th green. It is so difficult to judge how much forward momentum the ball will have after it bounces and how fast it needs to be moving once it gets onto the sloping putting surface. And again, it is a shot that tends to come up a lot over the course of the tournament. Go for that green in two every day and you are likely to finish over the back at least twice.
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