IN the lead-up to this year’s first major championship, 2007 US Masters champion Zach Johnson has pulled out all the stops with the help from his home club in Georgia.
Last year’s Open Championship winner engaged the staff at Sea Island Golf Club to recreate some of the practice facilities so they replicated the conditions Johnson and his peers will face at Augusta National Golf Club this week.
It is widely known there is no other layout on the planet quite like the unique Augusta course, with its lightning fast, undulating greens and pristine surfaces.
But Johnson asked his course's superintendent, John Kafader, to mimic the greens and short game areas as best he could, with impressive and useful results.
“Very, very tight lies around the greens and fast greens. He had our practice putting green rolling over 14, and he took a lot of the grain out,” Johnson told Golf Digest.
“Different type of grass, but speed's speed.”
Johnson joked that Kafader may have taken things a little too far, but the American enjoyed the test ahead of the test.
“He actually did some other things around the greens to try to mimic here, but it was even more extreme. I told him, ‘John, this is actually a bit much.’ But why not make it hard?”
“It helps when I get here … but it's still not Augusta.
“The bottom line is we're talking about this, my caddie and I and another player were saying, ‘You can prepare all you want and you get here and you say, there's nothing like it’.
“There is nothing like it. that's the beauty of it.”
Aside from his memorable 2007 triumph, Johnson’s record at Augusta National is mediocre.
His only other top 10 finish came last year in the form of a T9 result, Johnson’s next best week a T20 when he was defending champion in 2008.
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