Only a select few are fortunate enough to compete in the Masters each April. Straight Down ambassador Arron Oberholser got to play in three of them. He made the cut each time, including a 14th-place finish in his debut in 2006.
It was quite a thrill for a California kid who spent his college days competing on another of Dr. Alister Mackenzie’s masterpieces, Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, Calif. Oberholser, who played college golf at San Jose State, once beat Tiger Woods to win the Western Intercollegiate there. Oberholser’s affinity for Alister Mackenzie’s work only increased his appreciation for Augusta National.
For those of us who could only dream of competing in the Masters, Oberholser shares what it’s like to make the drive down Magnolia Lane and compete in golf’s most magical event.
“The first thing I remember about Augusta National is coming down Magnolia Lane and not believing I was there. ‘I’m finally here,’ I thought. I’d been watching this tournament for as long as I can remember. All those memories from watching it as a kid flooded back to me. It was a little overwhelming. It was an emotional experience.”
“The coolest thing about my first year was being able to bring my grandfather, Bill Oberholser, who’s from San Luis Obispo. He lives on Higuera Street. He’d seen every televised Masters since Frank Chirkinian put it on air. He couldn’t walk the golf course with his two replaced knees, but he could watch me come up No. 9 and tee off No. 10. He sat on the ninth hole of the Par-3 Contest and watched me make a hole-in-one. He still has that ball. That is one of the best memories I’ll ever have.”
“The first tee at Augusta National is the most nervous I’ve ever been for a first round. I’ve been more nervous in final rounds, but the most nervous I’ve ever been on a Thursday is after getting my name announced at Augusta National. And it’s not like I was any less nervous in 2007 for my second Masters.”
“I love Mackenzie courses because of the strategy that is necessary to play them. You have to play his courses backward. You have to put yourself in position off the tee and approach the green from the proper angle. I laugh when I hear people talk about how much room there is off the tee at Augusta National. If you try to attack from a bad angle on a Mackenzie course, you’re going to pay the price if you don’t pull the shot off. Tillinghast tells you how to play the hole off the tee with his fairway bunkering. On a Mackenzie, you want to look at where the hole location is and that will tell you where you should place your tee shot.”
“I love the serenity of Augusta National. The members do such a good job of making the Masters feel so warm and cordial even though it’s the biggest tournament in the world.”