237 Days: Preparing for Augusta

I never really know what to do with myself when the majors are finally over. 

On the one hand, I’m gassed. There has been so much golf to watch over the last few months, and staying in tune with everything is mentally taxing. On the other hand, we have a lot of long, cold days before we drive down Magnolia Lane, 237 to be exact. Some of that time will go quickly and some of it will be spent yearning for pimento cheese and Amen Corner. The golf schedule from late January through March will be exciting, but Augusta is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

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Normally, the break from golf is welcomed. The nine months of following grown men chasing the feathery has taken its toll. We step back, recharge, and prepare ourselves for the upcoming season. This time can be be four days or four months, but the golf bug always bites again.

Two Thousand Nineteen

The 2019 major championships will be some of the most anticipated majors in history. We’re heading to Augusta National, Bethpage, Pebble Beach, and Royal Portrush for starters. But the main source of angst is birthed from what we just witnessed at Bellerive and Carnoustie. The Sundays in St. Louis and Scotland have us clamoring for more championship golf.

More importantly, the last two majors have brought back the interest of the casual golf fan. We tried for years to convince others that Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, and Dustin Johnson were just as exciting to watch. 2018 has showed us that was a complete farce. Tiger is the beginning, middle, and end of the world of golf for many.

Next year, the casual golf fan will be just as excited as the die hard golf fan for the first time in a very long while. Tiger played last season, but he was not generating the amount of excitement that will surround him after a successful 2018 campaign. Casual fans and die hards alike will be chomping at the bit for the rolling hills of ANGC.

Now, whether you need the four days or the four months to unwind from this year, here are all the events that will mentally prepare you for the 2019 major championship season. This list includes things to watch for, propositions, conjecture, foolishness, and bias. It is lengthy, meticulous, over-complicated, and ridiculous...but so is golf. Watch one, watch them all, I don’t care. Just be ready for Augusta. 

The Guide

Day 1 - August 17, 2018 - I know the PGA Championship ended 5 days ago. This took some time to write, sue me. Today marks the 3rd day of match play in the U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. It has provided a stern test of golf and has given us a glimpse inside the mind of the USGA as they prepare for the U.S. Open. The winner and runner-up will play in the Masters and U.S. Open, but more importantly, Pebble Beach looks like it is ready to give us a classic championship.

Days 21 - 24 - September 6 - 9, 2018 - Aronimink! While this classic course won’t host a major until 2027 (PGA), it will produce a major championship leaderboard. This Donald Ross gem was recently brushed up by Gil Hanse and has not been used on the PGA Tour since 2011. It will shine for the BMW Championship in September.

 Aronimink Photo Credit: Jon Cavalier  @linksgems

Aronimink Photo Credit: Jon Cavalier @linksgems

Days 43 - 45 - September 28 - 30, 2018 - The Ryder Cup. It’s not a major championship, but it is just as (if not more) compelling. The 2016 event at Hazeltine was an absolute riot, and we have all been waiting to see these two squads compete again. Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, and Tiger all were missing last time around. It will be a sight to see and the last really compelling golf we watch until the new year.

Days 49 - 52 - October 4 - 7, 2018 - Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. The final remaining opportunity for a lot of us to watch links golf before Royal Portrush will be the Dunhill Links. It is a 10 out of 10 tournament played across The Old Course, Carnoustie, and Kingsbarns. Rory, Fleetwood, and Ernie headline this years field. Getcha ass outta bed, grab some coffee, and enjoy some early morning golf.

 St. Andrews

St. Andrews

Day 53 - October 8, 2018 - Happy Columbus Day, or as I call it, Ian Poulter Day. You know, grouchy foreigners who may not always treat the natives in the best manner. 

Days 91 - 94 - November 15 - 18, 2018 - People forget the Race to Dubai doesn’t end until the middle of November (lol). It makes the PGA Tour season look like a cake walk. Anywho, it’ll be getting cold, and you won’t want to do anything on Saturday or Sunday morning. Watch golf.

Day 98 - November 22, 2018 - Thanksgiving. Don’t think about golf too much. Don’t drink too many beers. Don’t drive into a fire hydrant.

Day 99 - November 23, 2018 - Phil Mickelson and Tiger are going to play their $10 million match. No one really knows how this is going to play out, but it will give us another opportunity to watch these legends play that we normally wouldn’t have. It also will shine a light on Shadow Creek, a place that not many people will ever see in person. I’ll also pay extra for hot mics and for it to stream on HBO.

Days 105 - 108 - November 29 - December 2, 2018 - The Hero World Challenge (we riiiiide). This is where all the Tiger hype started in 2017. Tiger swung out of his f***ing shoes and was tied for the lead at points. We were all cautious at the time, but damn did he really show us something this year. I have a feeling he is going to take this tournament more seriously than everyone else, and that may just be enough for a victory...

Day 114 - December 8, 2018 - I’m going to turn 25 and officially enter the Mid-Am cocktail circuit. That’s about as close to majors as I will ever get. Everyone else can celebrate if they want.

Day 121 - December 15, 2018 - This is a guess, but around this day Adam Sarson will begin his review of the 2018 season. He will capture the best, funniest, most jaw dropping, and memorable moments from the past twelve months. Golf Channel’s workers being on strike and having to use drones for coverage might still be my favorite so far.

Day 138 - January 1, 2019 - “New year, new me” - Bryson DeChambeau.

Day 140 - January 3, 2019 - Hawaiian golf returns for the Tournament of Champions. This event almost feels fake to me because of how early it is in the season. Guys don’t really seem to take it completely seriously until Sunday, and by then, Brandel has worked everyone into a lather with some spitfire take. Watching guys hit bombs down those fairways is really fun though, and it whets the appetite for what’s to come.

Day 161 - January 24, 2019 - Torrey Pines will always be the beginning of the PGA Tour season in my mind. The Hawaii tournaments are fun and all, but the first real field shows up in San Diego. We’re going to ignore the design of the course and enjoy the scene that is the unofficial start of the year.

Day 171 - February 3, 2019 - Scottsdale Sunday! A little Superbowl warm up fun in Arizona.  Fun fact: since 1994, the only person to win Scottsdale and win a major in the same year is Phil Mickelson (2005 and 2013). Something to think about if Lefty ever wants to win another major.

Days 182 - 185 - February 14 - 17, 2019 - We’re skipping over the Pebble event because even though it will be played 4 months later for the U.S. Open, the event will feel completely different. Riviera will always be awesome. It appears that Big Cat will be playing again with his ties to the event, and that is very exciting for everyone involved.

Day  206 - March 10, 2019 - Tiger is going to win at Bay Hill. He may win before this, but he is going to win at Bay Hill.

Day 209 - March 13, 2019 - I am verrrrry excited to see the PLAYERS move to March. It has been played in the relatively benign conditions of May since 2007, and I’m ready to get some chaos back into the event. The wind will prepare players for the Open, the manicured course prepares them for the Masters, and the difficulty prepares them for the U.S. Open and the PGA at Bethpage Black. Pipe it up.

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Day 213 - March 17, 2019 - Can we talk about our favorite (Northern) Irishman for a second? I’m worried about him. Rory is one of the best drivers of the golf ball we will ever see, and yet he can’t put anything together. It upsets me. On St. Patrick’s Day 2019, we are all going to drink enough to lift Rory back to the top. 

Day 236 - April 10, 2019 - The Inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship will take place the day before the Masters next season. It will be the first organized women’s tournament that takes place on the grounds of ANGC. They will only play one round on the course, but it is a step in the right direction. 

Day 237 - April 11, 2019 - Magnolias in bloom, pegs in the ground, balls in the air.