RBC Canadian Open

Oakdale Golf & Country Club

The Loop

Nothing Beats Practice With a Champion

April 07, 2008

If any first-time Masters participant is lucky the week, he'll find himself in a practice-round pairing with a former champion who has been there and done that. The rookie could get a memory he won't soon forget.

In his classic 1970 book Pro, still one of the best accounts of life on tour, Frank Beard remembered his experiences playing with three Masters champions--Henry Picard (1938), Ralph Guldahl (1939) and Herman Keiser (1946)--during his first visit to Augusta National G.C. in 1965.

"My round with them went faster than any round I've ever played in my life, it was so fascinating," Beard wrote. "They mentioned trees that had been knocked down by lightning and mounds that had been leveled. . . . For me, it was like participating in history. It was like being a modern big-league baseball player and batting against Walter Johnson or being a modern professional football player and tackling Red Grange. It was beautiful."

And Beard had some advice that would come in handy for this year's first-timers. "You can lick this course with your normal game--f you ever calm down enough to play your normal game," he wrote.

Some things haven't changed.

--Bill Fields