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Posted April 8, 2021, 9:48 am |

Mother Nature, maintenance practices create awe-inspiring beauty of Augusta National Golf Club

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    Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods Fred Couples and Thomas Pieters leave the No. 14 tee during a practice round of the 2018 Masters Tournament. [ANDREW DAVIS TUCKER/THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

Augusta National Golf Club's fairways and tees are the greenest.
The blooms on the dogwoods and azaleas are the brightest and prettiest.
And the ponds that guard some of the most famous holes in golf are picture-book shades of blue.

Natural timing and natural beauty are just two of the reasons golf fans typically "ooh" and "ahh" each year when they arrive for the Masters Tournament.

Contrary to popular opinion, the club does not apply heavy doses of fertilizer or pesticides to keep appearances up, key personnel at Augusta National say. In fact, the opposite is true.
"At Augusta National Golf Club, we are concerned about the environment," then club chairman Hootie Johnson said in 2012. "A state-of-the-art irrigation system and a primarily curative versus preventative philosophy are just two examples of our commitment to the environment."

A state-of-the-art maintenance facility is where it all begins. Inside are meeting and training rooms, a shop area, a soil lab and an on-site weather station to help the club tackle any problem. Outside, a wash rack for equipment and a water recycling system keep unwanted chemicals in check.

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Photos: Augusta National in bloom for 2021 Masters

Here's what to know about the course:

Why is Augusta National closed in the summer?

Augusta National is a seasonal club. The course is shut down each May and reopens in October to eliminate a lot of wear and tear during the peak summer months in Augusta's humid, subtropical climate.

That time of year is when improvements and construction on the course take place. Extreme care and attention are given to the course's famed greens. Because they are bentgrass, a cool-season grass, particular care is taken during the hottest months.

Why is everything so green? 

Augusta National's tees and fairways are Bermuda grass, but they are overseeded each fall with rye grass.

Does the club pack the flowers in ice to ensure they bloom in time for the Masters each year? 

No. With such a large property, it would be virtually impossible to do that. Most of the varieties, such as the dogwoods and azaleas, bloom in the spring around the time of the tournament.

Who designed the Augusta National golf course?

Alister Mackenzie collaborated on the course with Augusta National Golf Club and Masters Tournament co-founder Bobby Jones. Mackenzie was Scottish, but it was two courses in California that he had designed, Pasatiempo and Cypress Point, that caught Jones' eye.

The main thing they agreed on was that a design need not be penal. They wanted Jones' dream course to be strategic and full of options for players of all skill levels.

Clifford Roberts, who co-founded the club with Jones, wrote that Mackenzie died before the course was fully covered with grass. Mackenzie often called it the "World's Wonder Inland Golf Course."

"He was quite ready, however, to declare the course to be his best, and he did so a number of times," Roberts wrote in The Story of the Augusta National Golf Club . "What a pity Mackenzie did not come to this country earlier or did not live for another ten years!"