Tommy Tuberville has been the SEC Coach of the Year at two different schools, has a 7-3 record in bowl games, led Auburn to six straight victories over archrival Alabama, and coached the Tigers to a perfect 13-0 season in 2004.
That’s an impressive resume.
But it you’re a golf fan like me and excited for the start of The Masters, then this might be the most interesting Tuberville factoid of them all: He’s golfed at Augusta National.
“I have some friends who are members and I’ve had the chance to play quite a few rounds,” Coach Tuberville told me on Wednesday. “Just being able to walk around that course knowing that Jack Nicklaus hit a shot from here…or play Amen Corner…or play the 16th hole and try to hit it in the middle of the green and watch the ball roll down toward where they always put the pin on Sunday.
“I’ve had a chance to stay in Butler Cabin, eat in the clubhouse, and go to the Crow’s Nest where the amateurs stay – it’s been a lot of fun just for the history of it.”
So inquiring minds want to know: What’s his best score at Augusta?
“I’ve never broken 80,” said Tuberville. “I’ve been pretty close to it – probably 81 or 82. The course is wide open – it’s not like some of these courses where you have to hit an iron off the tee to keep it in the fairway. The biggest challenges are the undulation in the fairways where you never have a flat lie and then the slick greens. If you just hit the ball on the green, there will probably be several times where your caddy will say, ‘You’ve hit the green but there’s no way you can get it in the hole from there in four putts.'”
Hold on a second. Has Tuberville actually four-putted on one of Augusta’s greens?
“I’ve five-putted,” Tommy said with a laugh. “The first time I played there, I hit a good drive on the first hole and my caddy said, ‘Whatever you do Coach, keep it below the pin. Don’t hit this shot above the pin.’ Well I hit what I thought was a good shot, but it was a little bit thin and rolled about 15 feet past the hole. My caddy kind of grunted and shook his head. I got up to the green and I had a 15 foot downhill putt and he said, ‘You’re going to end up in the sand trap.’ I just barely touched the ball and it rolled right into the trap.”
With that story in mind, Tuberville says that the winner this week will be the person that hits his approach shots to the most favorable areas on the green to putt. Since Tiger Woods is the popular pick to win, I asked Tommy if he would choose Tiger or the rest of the field?
“I’d take the field,” said Tuberville. “Tiger is not the Tiger of old even though he’s won a few times this year. Years ago I would have taken Tiger over the field, but there are so many good young golfers now that can hit the ball longer than him and putt. Tiger is putting as well as he’s ever putted, but I still say there are a lot of other guys that are putting just as well.”
After spending a few minutes discussing his experiences at Augusta National, I figured I would drop a little local knowledge on the Bearcats new head coach and asked Coach Tuberville if he knew that the coveted Masters’ green jacket is made at Hamilton Tailoring in Cincinnati.
“That’s very interesting,” Tommy said with a grin. “That will be a good trivia question for me to use with some of my buddies that are golfers.”
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