It's Masters week, if you hadn't already figured that from all these golf- and Masters-related golf posts.
I've never had the honor of visiting or playing Augusta National myself, but I know people who have.
In fact, I was attending a recent IBM event in Las Vegas when a very senior IBM executive confided to me that he had played Augusta National for the first time recently with several other very senior ex-IBM executives (the gender mix of which I'm not at liberty to reveal).
Turbo tees off at hole No. 1 at Augusta National, where The Masters has been played most every year since 1934. Only in this case, Turbo has gone all Neo and is playing the Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2012 virtual edition of the course on his Macbook Air. He figures it's the closest he'll ever come to playing the real course.
I asked him what he shot, and it was a very respectable mid-handicap number, especially for Augusta National -- people who don't know golf can't really fathom how long 7,435 yards is for a golf course. (That's why you see so many players who don't have good distance off the tee hitting long irons and even utility clubs to get onto Augusta's greens.)
He also explained, as I've also heard from others, that TV just doesn't do the course justice. He explained that the hills and undulations are so much more pronounced when you're out there walking the grounds.
"Eighteen," he explained, me nodding my head. "Like walking straight up a hill." On TV, it obviously looks like it's uphill, but not nearly the angle at which he was suggesting.
It was at this point that I had to tune out, as he was killing me with this reveal.
So yesterday, after work, I decided I wanted to get to know the course better, and figured why not try and see if there were any golfing games that included Augusta National in their course lineup.
I figure this is the only way I'm going to play some of the world's great courses, so it's probably a pretty good investment.
Turns out, Electronic Arts had released a Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2012 edition in that year that included the ability to play Augusta National, and they had a Mac edition, AND Amazon would allow me to download it on the fly and install it.
All for a whopping $20.
I also discovered the 2014 Tiger Woods PGA Tour edition will have a version of Augusta for the Masters in 1934 -- so not only can you play with the likes of Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan and all the other greats, but you can play the course the way Bobby Jones and Alister Mackenzie originally designed it.
You just have to have an X-Box 360 or Playstation 3 (neither of which I own!).
The 2012 version will do nicely for now. Once the DMG was downloaded and I had installed the software and gotten the online presence set up (the game allows you to play a round with others out in cyberspace), I was off to hole No. 1, Tea Olive (see pic above).
My score for the round was atrocious, as I was just learning all the controls for shotmaking in the game (that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it), but the visualizations and greenery were an excellent way to find your way around the course, and to help you better learn how and why players navigate Augusta National the way they do.
For the record, on No. 12, I hit about five balls into Rae's Creek before finding the green -- hopefully not a prophecy of things to come should I ever get to actually play a round at Augusta National.
I also found myself in situations that most Tour players would never find themselves in, which, for me, is about par for the course.