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Last Updated: Monday, 3 April 2006, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
Too long, too tough

By Alan Hansen
BBC Sport football expert (and keen golfer!)

Augusta National - home to the Masters - has the special aura of a great sporting theatre from the moment you walk through the gates.

And to play the course under almost tournament conditions was, for a three-handicap golfer like myself, the experience of a lifetime.

I described being given the chance to play there as like winning the lottery, and it lived up to every expectation.

Alan Hansen
Golf is the sport with the biggest gap between amateur and professional

To play at Augusta National while everything was being put in place for the big event was a fantastic experience.

To go and watch the Masters is amazing enough. To go and play the course is something different again. It is a very special place.

I played with Gary Lineker and we left agreeing that golf is the sport with the biggest gap between amateur and professional.

If you put an amateur footballer into a good Liverpool team, he may not look great but he could possibly get by without disgracing himself.

Not in golf. If you put an amateur in at the highest level in golf - the Masters, for example - you are talking light years of difference.

To play the course made me appreciate the skill levels and degree of difficulty at the top in golf.

I played off the members' tees, which add up to about 6,300 yards. The Masters course is about 7,500 yards.

I went round in 80 and 77, and thought I had played better than 80. I came off wondering how I had got an 80 having played so well.

I won't bother with my score off the tournament tees. We started off scoring but in the end I lost count. It was just too long and too tough, but what an experience.

I've played on a lot of difficult courses in the UK, but Augusta presents an almost unique challenge
I discovered that playing Augusta National is all about positioning. If you are on the wrong side of the hole then it is virtually impossible to putt.

The pace of the greens is frightening enough, but even then you have to take in the slopes and that only adds to the difficulty.

I've played on a lot of difficult courses in the UK, but Augusta presents an almost unique challenge.

Every hole has an enormous degree of difficulty which puts you under huge mental stress.

Nick Faldo, a three-time Masters winner, talked about the pressures of trying to drop a seven-iron on an area no bigger than a dining table.

That gives you some idea of the skill involved. And that was one of the greatest golfers of all time talking.

They have lengthened quite a few of the holes this year, which will make the task of winning the Masters even more daunting.

As a golf course it was hugely difficult but, as I said, one of the sporting experiences of a lifetime.

It only confirms the respect that must be afforded to those professionals who play in the Masters - and told me I was right to stick to football.




SEE ALSO
The BBC at Augusta
28 Mar 06 |  Golf
Field of dreams doesn't disappoint
05 Apr 05 |  Masters 2005
Augusta in pictures
31 Mar 04 |  Photo Galleries


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