In the 1980s, a new tradition emerged at the 16th hole at Augusta National Golf Club that became a fan favorite: skipping balls across the pond. The tradition is now embraced.
On Monday, a near ace on his tee shot at the 16th by Steve Stricker wasn’t enough for the patrons.
They wanted him to “skip it.’
With a short stroke and a hearty bounce, the 25-year PGA Tour veteran skimmed a second shot across the pond fronting the hole.
The patrons erupted in applause as the ball skipped up on the green toward the cup.
“Of anyone, I knew Stricker had a good shot at making it off the bounce,” said J.T. Roberts, 65, of Kilgore, Texas, who was visiting Augusta National Golf Club for the first time. “He has a solid short game and the capability to put some serious top spin on the ball and use it in his favor.”
Skipping the ball on No. 16 during practice rounds is a Masters Tournament tradition many believe dates back to the mid-1980s when Lee Trevino did it.
Vijay Singh and Martin Kaymer both skipped balls that reached the green, rolled to the cup and dropped in for aces in 2009 and 2012, respectively.
Dan Bundy, 54, Lawrenceburg, Ky., has been coming to the Masters for the past four years and said the best performance was two years ago when three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson targeted a turtle sitting on the fringe of the green.
Bundy said Mickelson missed the turtle, but scared the animal back into the pond.
“It’s a must see for newcomers,” Bundy said of the tradition.
Fans say the most intriguing shots this year were hit by Miguel Angel Jimenez, Corey Conners and Camilo Villegas and Cameron Tringale, who teed off simultaneously.
Bundy’s friend, Steve Gaither, 53, of Memphis, Tenn., said both Villegas and Tringale got within feet of the hole, but Villegas’ ball got there quicker.
“There are definitely different techniques,” Gaither said. “I’m sure they practice.”
Gaither said players will either skip balls several times on a shot or make it bounce once to get on the putting surface.
Sang-Moon Bae and Seung-Yul Noh recorded each other’s shot on video, said Javier and Sandy Ortiz, of Sanibel, Fla. They said Bae caught the ridge, while Noh made the green.
“You can tell it hurts when the golfers come up short,” Javier said. “They immediately ask their caddie for another ball."