Wasn’t that exciting? I take my hat off to Bubba Watson. He really deserved to win. He was just fluttering away shots on Saturday, but on Sunday, that was some of the best driving of the golf ball that I’ve ever seen at Augusta National. Plus, he’s got feeling! He’s got heart! We saw the emotion there. I’m a bit of a crybaby myself, so I enjoy it when I get to see somebody else get emotional. People don’t win many majors in their lives, so anytime you win a major, it’s just so dramatic and it means so much. I cry just thinking about my first Masters win in 1961!
I was just ecstatic because I knew I wanted to win the career Grand Slam, and I already had the British Open under my belt, so I holed the putt and said, "Wow, I’m halfway there." It wasn’t enough. I had to win more. I enjoyed it. It was fabulous. And then I said, "Okay. On to tomorrow. Let’s win one more!"
It was also a very stirring effort by Jordan Spieth. No. 8 really hurt him. He hit a nice third shot, and the ball always releases to the hole there, but his ball just stopped. That was amazingly unlucky. That was the whole turnaround. Jordan is a marvelous young man, and you always seem to learn a lot more from losses than you do from wins, so he’s going to learn from this one. I love his game, and he’s very strong physically, but I’d like to see him improve his backswing a bit, then you’re going to see a lot of great things from this man. He looks destined to become a champion.
Here’s the thing though. Millions of people saw a man making a mockery out of Augusta National’s so-called par-5s on Sunday. When are the USGA, the R&A and the PGA going to have more vision and cut the ball back by 50 yards? When you see people hitting a driver and a wedge on No. 13, what are we doing? Where is the game going? The ball is going farther and we have lightweight shafts, metal heads, fairways cut like a flattop hairdo! I’m a great admirer of golf’s leaders, but they must realize that in 20-30 years time — as better athletes start to play golf because it’s the only sport where you can make more money at 60 years old that when you were in your prime — Bubba Watson will be a short hitter by comparison!
On Monday, at the Gary Player Invitational in Augusta, Jamie Sadlowski from Canada will be here, and he can hit a driver longer than 400 yards. That means he could stand on the first tee at St. Andrews and drive over the green. How much longer can we make our golf courses? Augusta has been brilliant at lengthening its golf course to make the players of today hit the same clubs that we hit years ago and turn in about the same score (280) that we did, but the smaller golf clubs around the world are all unwisely and unnecessarily lengthening their golf courses! The members hate it, because the costs go up (water, fertilizer, labor), and they’re running out of money and folding up. Can’t we see how it’s hurting the game? The clubs are trying to follow the pros, but the pros are the most unimportant people in golf! The most important people in golf are the amateurs and the club members! Leave the technology for the amateur weekend golfer. Let’s get back to reality.
Gary Player will be sharing his thoughts on the Masters and recounting his adventures at Augusta National for Golf.com throughout the week. You can follow him @garyplayer.