Sure, Gig Harbor’s Kyle Stanley played Augusta National Golf Club when he was a youngster at Clemson University – and came nowhere close to breaking par even in a casual round.
And during some down time, he made a visit to the famed Masters venue earlier in March.
But the Bellarmine Prep product is ramping up his preparation for the year’s first major championship – and his first Masters showing – even before the tournament kicks off April 5.
On Sunday, he played a practice round at Augusta National. Today, he will tour the course with three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson, with whom he has formed a strong bond in the early stages of 2012.
And on Tuesday, he plans on touring it one more time with caddie Brett Waldman and short-game guru James Sieckmann, of Omaha, Neb.
He then will take the short flight over to Texas and play in this week’s Shell Houston Open – where the green speeds and formations are hailed a worthy comparison to Augusta National.
“There are more subtleties at Augusta than the vast majority of courses,” Stanley said Friday afternoon.
“Brett has caddied there quite a bit … and his job in practice rounds is to get me as comfortable on the course as I can. He knows all that stuff. I still have to know what to do, though.”
Stanley said the practice round Tuesday is especially crucial. He will have five or six different 60-degree wedges that Vokey has sent him just for this tournament with difference “bounce.” (feel of when the club impacts the ground). He will try them all, then determine which one goes in the bag Masters week.
The plan for Masters week is for Stanley to play just nine holes per practice day. He will also partake in the “Par-3 Tournament” on Wednesday. His father, Matt, will caddie.
“Everyone said in the first year, you need to play (the par-3 event),” Stanley said. “It will be a really neat experience for dad and I to do that.”