RUSH: Here is Daniel in Sheridan, Wyoming. It’s great to have you. How you doing?
CALLER: (garbled cell) Good. How you doing, Rush?
RUSH: Just fine, sir. Thank you.
CALLER: Hey, I wanted to call and say mega dittos, and I was wondering if you have any predictions on the Masters and if you have ever played Augusta.
RUSH: Predictions on the Masters. Well, Dustin Johnson is out. Bad back. He’s on a stair master, riding that little bench up the stairs for a couple of weeks. Now, you’re asking me…? ( sigh) Charley Hoffman is down to minus five. He’s plus two today on his second round. He was the leader at minus seven yesterday. Garcia’s making a move right now. McIlroy is making a move. You can’t count out Phil Mickelson yet. So… You know, I think golf is impossible to predict.
It doesn’t matter what somebody did last week. It doesn’t matter what roll they’re on. That’s the thing about this game. In a team sport, when a team’s on a roll, you have a little bit more data and comfort in predicting whether the roll’s gonna continue, whether the team is playing well and who the opponent is. But the golf course is the opponent. It changes every round in terms of wind and weather and so forth. And your game is never the same two days in a row. It’s almost impossible to handicap and predict.
Without seeing…You know, Saturday’s moving day. That’s the day that you’re really getting a feeling for who’s playing well; who moves up on Saturday after the cut today. But names that you know are consistently there. Garcia, although he fades — Sergio Garcia — McIlroy, Rickie Fowler. And Hoffman, if he could maintain — which he hasn’t done so far from the way he was playing yesterday. Anything… It could well be somebody that hasn’t won this thing before, too, so that will make it rather exciting. I have played Augusta National… Let’s see, how many times? Played it five times.
CALLER: What were you most struck by the first time you played it?
RUSH: The topography. The thing that television does not show you is how steep the hills on this golf course are. When you tee off on number 10, you are going downhill almost to the point you need a sled. It is that steep. TV can’t show you. It’s two dimensional. The fairway, the 18th hole? You better make sure your heart’s in good condition if you’re gonna walk that hill. It is… The elevation’s like 10, 11 degrees. It’s steep! In no way does television even get close to portraying that. That was the first thing that struck me about the place. The next thing that struck me was how immaculate it is.
It looks painted. The fairways, the greens. It’s immaculate. It doesn’t look like there is one blade of grass out of place, not properly trimmed or mowed, dead. It’s stunning. You really feel like you’re in hallowed ground, and you don’t want your round to end because you don’t want to have to leave the place. You don’t care how well you play the first time. Second, third time, then you say, “Okay, now I want to play well. I’ve gotten being here out of my system. Now I want to…” It’s difficult as hell. It’s so much more difficult than it even looks on TV. Because when you see it on TV professionals are playing, and they always make it look easy. But there’s no other place like it. Nowhere, anywhere.
RUSH: If you play golf, and if you’ve always wanted to go to Augusta National, I’ll just tell you this: When you get there, it is everything and more that you hope it will be. The people there are everything and more. They make everybody there feel very special.
RUSH: The Official Program Observer, Mr. Snerdley, has a question. What is the question? (interruption) No, you… (interruption) No.
He’s asking, “How do you get to play at Augusta?” You must be invited by a member. You can’t walk on. You can’t get through the gate. That place has White House-type security there. You can’t get in it. You have to be accompanied by a guest. I’ll just tell you the first time I went. I was invited by a club officer. It was an invitation that surprised the heck out of me, because the club officer was known. I’m not gonna mention his name now because Augusta’s a very… They’re a behind-a-gates kind of club. And it was fascinating.
A, I was stunned to get the invitation, and I was allowed to bring two friends. And then they paired us with the club pro. And that was the foursome. And they invited us in the night before, and we stayed in the cabin occupied by this club officer, and he hosted us for dinner in the club dining room. You should have seen that when we walked in. This was back in 2000, 2001. But this club officer was an amazing guy. You know, Augusta has not a lot of rules, but they’re very strictly enforced. And the way this guy…
We were not told. I was not told of the rules before arriving. Meaning behavioral rules, dress code rules, none of that. I was just… You just know. You know. I mean, as a golfer, you know what some of them are, and if you have a chance to go there, you try to learn as much about the place as you can. But the way the rules were explained to me is fascinating. This club officer told a story about somebody who had violated every rule, as a way of explaining the rule. He was an extremely refined and sophisticated individual.
And rather than just stand there like a military person and preach the rules, he passed the rules on via funny stories. For example — and, of course, we’re all ears because we’re getting details of things that have happened at the club. So the first story he told was about a guest who showed up to play, and in the morning getting ready in the men’s locker room he was wearing a pair of shorts. And the club president at the time, Cliff Roberts, walked up to him and said, “Where are you playing today?” And the guest said, “I’ll play right here, Mr. Roberts! I’m so excited. I can’t wait to get out there.”
Mr. Roberts said, “You’re not playing here, not in those. You’re not wearing shorts here. We don’t wear shorts at Augusta.” So that’s how I was told no shorts. It was… (chuckles) It’s a good thing that I had taken slacks, but I would have been able to buy a pair in the pro shop. The next story — which I found fascinating. The club officer told a story about a guest who was extremely braggadocios about his wealth and how unappreciated things like that are at Augusta National. And I’m just giving you the short version of the story. This story took about five minutes to tell, and it was hilarious.
The upshot of the story was that this braggadocios guest, the night before playing his round, was playing bridge with other members and was going on and on and on about his net worth, trying to fit in. He thought that the members at Augusta were all wealthy, and he was trying to make himself appear to be one of them, and it got to be so bad that my host said he walked up to him and asked, “What is your net worth? I mean, you keep talking about it. How much money you got?” And the guy gives him a figure, and my host (the club officer) said to him, “You want to cut the cards for it?”
As a way of diminishing the guy and his bragging about (chuckling), the host said, “Okay, let’s cut the cards for your net worth,” and the guy shut up. So the message there was, “You can’t impress anybody here. Don’t try. That’s not the point. Just have a good time here.” There were three or four stories like that that served to explain the proper decorum and comportment. Not a one of them was offensive. They were uproariously funny. Of course, when you play the first time, you don’t want it to end. And when you play, you want to see the parts of the course that you like the most having watched it on TV.
For most people, that’s Amen Corner, holes 11, 12, and 13. So you can’t wait to get there but then you don’t want to get there because when you do get there it means you’re getting close to the end. But when you get there, you just — and it was Amen Corner for me, 11, 12, and 13 and 15 and 18. And number 1. I’d never seen number 1 on TV. So I was curious about that one. But as I say, if you ever get a chance to go, it’s everything you would hope it would be, and I… (interruption) Mr. Snerdley’s asking, “How do you become a member?” You don’t ever ask that question.
You do not ever ask. If you ask that question, you have a mark against you that you can’t erase. You do not talk about membership when you’re there. You don’t express… You may ask about how many, but you don’t ask any details about membership. Certainly not your first time. Now, people can volunteer whatever they want, but it’s all about… In fact, there was a tradition, lore, that the best way to never become a member there is to try, is to lobby for it. Well, Bill Gates did. He went public. “Gosh, I want it,” and he got in. So not everything is locked down. It’s basically a CEO club, as best I can tell.
But that doesn’t matter. It’s just everybody there is tremendous. They treat you like you are a member. They treat you like they see you every day and love you. It’s just everything you’d want it to be. The golf course is everything you want it to be. I’ll tell you another thing. Tthe guy asked me what was the first thing I noticed, and I said, “The topography,” how steep 18 is. It’s hilly. This golf course… There are not all that many flat lies on it. But it’s impossible for TV to convey because it’s two dimensional. But the next thing about it… Every time…
When you see Augusta on TV, there are thousands and thousands of people there surrounding the greens. When you see 18 with no people there, you’re not even sure it’s 18. The first time you see it. You’re looking at it. You see the putting green, you see the tee box, you think it’s number 1. It looks entirely different without the patrons, the gallery there. So those are the first things that, at least, hit me my first time there. Well, actually my first time there was a spectator. Steve Jones had won the U.S. Open and invited me and Paul Westphal to go.
We trudged around for three days watching it. But that still was nothing like being invited to play it. I mean, there was nobody there other than the people playing the course. Everybody has caddies. They wear the white caddie uniform just like they do on the tournament. The leaderboard scoreboards were still posted. We played after the tournament the year I went the first time. It’s a special place. It really is. Anyway… Do you have any other questions about it? (laughing) What is it? (interruption) Mmm-hmm. (interruption) Right. Snerdley is asking…
He’s asking me of all the golf clubs I’ve played, is Augusta at the top of the list? Here’s the way… When you play golf, people always ask you what your favorite course is. And what I always say is, “Well, take Augusta out, because it’s the automatic number one.” So, yeah, Augusta’s my favorite place, for a variety of reasons. There are other places I love playing, too, but, yeah, it’s just… It’s that special a place. It’s not just because it’s on TV every year. It’s not the tradition. Genuinely, the golf course itself is just a fascinating, unique, fun setup.
But the TV lure is impossible to avoid. It’s on TV every year. The people that play it are professionals. They play it well. So you want to go out and do on that course what you’ve seen them do on TV. Like number 15. When the weather’s good, number 15, it’s a par 5, and the guys that are in the top 10, they can hit the green in two. We amateurs can’t do it, but we try. They give a free swing. “You want to try it for 15 in two? Go ahead! Drop a ball.” As I say, you don’t want the day to end. Usually the experience involves an overnight. You go in the day before, spend the night, have dinner, whatever, play the next day.