Late Sunday afternoon I sat at my vantage point just to the right of No. 11 green at Augusta National. In the ticket scalping world (and there is no ticket for that location) I would hate to think what this spot would be worth on the most famous day in golf — the final round of The Masters. Not only could I see the second shots coming into No. 11 green, but I was just a few yards from No. 12, the 155 yard par-3 hole that has sunk many attempts at winning the famed green jacket.
From my stool I could see both the Hogan and Nelson bridges, which guard the No. 12 green. This spot is truly at the gates of Amen Corner, the most heavenly place in all of golf. The serenity of this gorgeous patch of ground is really unheralded. It has the all of the character of Arlington National Ceremony — minus the grave stones. However, Rae’s Creek, the body of water behind No. 11 and in front of No. 12, has been a watery grave to many over the years.
Shortly before 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, Charl Schwartzel, who was the defending champion for this year’s Masters made his way through Amen Corner. In a poignant moment he stopped at the base of Hogan’s bridge on his way to No. 12 green. Schwartzel spent about 30 seconds engrossed in the plaque at the foot of the bridge.
“This bridge dedicated April 2, 1958 to commemorate Ben Hogan’s record score for four rounds of 274 in 1953. Made up of rounds of 70, 66, 69 and 69. This score will always stand as one of the finest accomplishments in competitive golf and may even stand for all time as the record for The Masters tournament.”
I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the first time that he had ever noticed the plaque. You know how focused athletes can be during the course of competition. What a difference a year makes. In 2011, Schwartzel became the first player to ever birdie the final four holes at Augusta in winning the tournament. He may never have a bridge named after him, but Schwartzel will always have his place in Masters’ history.