Masters Champions Confidential: Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Ray Floyd join our roundtable

Phil Mickelson
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Phil Mickelson won his third Masters Tournament in 2010.

5. If you could build a house at any hole at Augusta National, what hole would it be on and why?

Weir: I don’t necessarily think there is a bad place to build a home at Augusta. The whole property is beautiful and one-of-a-kind. If I had the choice, it would definitely be somewhere around Amen Corner. I think a great spot would be at the corner of the dogleg the 13th, from there you can see Nos. 11, 12, 13 and 14.

Floyd: I’d pick where the clubhouse is. They picked the right spot. That’s where I’d want my own to be. It was well picked. The panorama. You can look down the 10th, look down the 18th, look down the 1st. The views are spectacular.

Woosnam: If I had the choice, I think I’d build it at the back of the 12th so you’d get some great views of people playing over the lake, as well as some general views of the holes around Amen Corner.

Johnson: Next question. No houses on Augusta National.

Langer: It would definitely be on the 13th hole, high above where you look down on the azalea bushes. It’s one of my favorite views on the course.

Player: I suppose I would choose the start of Amen Corner, behind the water at the green on the 11th hole, though I am not sure that I could go wrong with any hole. The 11th is a monster par-4 and is one of my favorite golf holes throughout the world. Boy, has it seen its fair share of drama too. When the pin is tucked near the water on Sunday, it makes for some exciting golf. Anyone who makes four here every day of the tournament is likely to be very near the top of the leaderboard come Sunday.

Palmer: I’d build it where the clubhouse is now.

Schwartzel: Left of 16th hole because you can see down No. 15 and up No. 17. Plus I have some good memories there.

Zoeller: I’d build it on the tee at No. 10 overlooking the 10th fairway to the right overlooking the 18th green and 10th tee and look down that beautiful hole. When the shadows get on that hole, it is spectacular.

Casper: There is such a reverence at Amen Corner. It would be neat to have a place to the left of the 12th green, up in the trees where you are overlooking Nos. 11, 12 and the 13th tee.

Lyle: I would build my house at the back of the 12th. It’s the most fascinating, mood changing hole on the course, and I could study it 24/7.

6. With several high-profile rookies playing in their first Masters, what advice would you give them? What advice do you wish someone had given you at your first Masters?

Johnson: While it is easier said than done, I would tell them to try and treat the week just like another tournament and each day as just another 18 holes of golf. Stick to the routines that have been successful because obviously they are there for a reason and try not to do anything too different from the normal routine. But at the end of the day, at Augusta National there is no substitute for experience.

Lyle: My advice would be for any newcomer not to be a hero in the first hour of play. Be patient, settle down and enjoy. In my first appearance, I had no idea how severe the change of speed on the greens, from practice to official play, was going to be. Luckily this is no longer the case.

Woosnam: I’d suggest that a rookie tries to play a practice round with someone experienced, who can tell you where to hit it and where not too. Have plenty of putts, as there will only be four or five pin positions during the week, so you can practice them all from all the different angles.

Floyd: It’s a difficult course to play totally aggressive on. You can select places after your drive that you can choose to be aggressive on. But it takes a while to learn those situations.

Player: Playing in your first Masters is not an experience to be forgotten. I can still vividly remember my first trip to Augusta in 1957. As far as my advice to Masters rookies, I would tell them to not take any of the practice rounds for granted. Augusta National requires great strategy and knowledge of the course. To win at the Masters, you have to know when to play aggressive and when to play the safe shot -- that generally only comes from playing the course and tournament experience. It is always a good idea for a rookie to find a previous champion or seasoned veteran and request to play a practice round with them to learn where to place or hit shots around the course. Most importantly, I’d tell them to focus on their short game, because it is their short game is what will make the difference between making the cut, missing the cut, or being in contention. Putting well at Augusta comes with experience because the pace at Augusta National is fast and the greens all have some rather extreme undulations. The greens are fast, but the key is not to shoot for the flags, rather carefully choose your spots to land the ball on the greens. It took quite a long time for me to realize that some holes are not meant to be birdied at Augusta National. There are some holes where it is just best to play for par.

Weir: My best piece of advice is to start talking to the players who have played in the Masters eight, nine or 10 times. The Masters is unlike any other tournament. The feeling you get on the first tee is almost magical, and it can be very intimidating and nerve-wracking. There are so many slopes and undulations around the greens, you could spend 100 hours a week practicing on them and still be surprised during the tournament. Other than that, the best piece of advice is to enjoy the experience and be proud of what you have accomplished in order to receive an invitation to the Masters.

Zoeller: Enjoy the whole week. Take it all in. With the course, this is where I think the young guys are making a mistake. There’s a lot to know about Augusta National. They should take a local caddie for the first year they are there and take every note those local caddies give them. They might save you a stroke or a stroke and a half, and that’s huge.

Casper: Learn the golf course. From the first time you get there, you learn how to play Augusta National. Rarely do players win in the first time there. It takes a tremendous amount of learning to win it.

Langer: Pay real close attention to the greens, but they do that anyway. Everyone has talked about it for years. I had 11 three-putts in 36 holes the first time I played. I was 11 shots behind the leader. If you can figure out the greens and know where to hit it, you can save a lot of putts. You need a lot of knowledge for that place. It’s a little easier nowadays, but it still does take some knowledge.

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