LOS ANGELES — Andrew Augustyniak has won the Masters more times than he can remember. It goes like this: He rolls a perfectly struck putt across the undulations of the 18th green, lifts his Scotty Cameron putter to the sky and waves to the gallery as the ball trickles into the cup.
In fairness, Augustyniak does enjoy a home-course advantage. He need only walk out the sliding-glass door in Gilbert, Ariz., and he’s in a miniature Masters paradise. His backyard is like the back nine at Augusta National through the wrong end of a telescope. It’s a replica of the holes from tee to green, a masterpiece in flawless artificial turf, complete with an authentic-looking leaderboard, a stone Ben Hogan Bridge on No. 12, and a Rolex-style golf clock that reads “Augustyniak National.”
“My wife and I were blessed with the opportunity to watch the Masters in 2018, and it absolutely changed my life,” he said. “It validated the passion and love that I have for Augusta National. When we were figuring out what to do with our backyard here … I wanted to re-create that feeling where you walk through the gates at Augusta to watch the Masters.”
Augustyniak is the Pete Dye of the DIY crowd.
And he’s not alone in channeling his inner golf course designer. NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick built a scaled-down rendition of Augusta’s 12th hole in the backyard of his North Carolina home. And CBS announcer Jim Nantz, voice of the Masters, is putting the finishing touches on No. 13 at his home in Tennessee.
These are not modest endeavors. They can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that’s not counting the land. A ballpark price for the green complexes is $25-$30 per square foot, but there are bunkers involved, too — some are white artificial turf, others are actual sand — and often a fairway tongue that allows for a simulated approach shot.
The transformations aren’t about turning crabgrass into ryegrass. Companies such as Back Nine Greens, Celebrity Greens and PuttTek use high-quality artificial turf, not just to represent the green grass but often the white sand and blue water hazards.
They aren’t perfectly identical replicas of Masters holes, because ultra-private Augusta National doesn’t provide the precise topographical dimensions to the outside world.
“If you’re a golfer and you get a chance to go to Augusta and walk the course, and hang on every shot from your favorite player, it’s got to be the ultimate man-cave thing,” said Gina Weber, co-owner of Celebrity Greens, based in Scottsdale, Ariz. “Like, ‘I need to have this in my backyard.’ "
Celebrity Greens recently completed a 12th green for someone in Milton, and before that built the 13th green for a customer in Cherry Hills, Colo. And, although Weber didn’t disclose a name or specific location, a version of the 12th and 13th holes for some high-roller in Los Angeles.
“They’re super-cool projects to build,” she said.
Nantz’s first backyard hole was a replica of No. 7 at Pebble Beach, the iconic par-three overlooking the ocean. He and his wife, Courtney, were married on that actual hole and wanted a smaller version for their Pebble Beach home.
So pleased was the announcer with the job by Back Nine Greens, he had the Palm Desert-based company re-create an Augusta hole at his home in Nashville. He also recommended Back Nine to Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who had a hole built on his property in Western New York, although his isn’t a homage to a famous hole.
These hole builders are just like millions of other golf fans; they’re mesmerized by the Masters.
“When you listen to that music — I’ve got goosebumps right now — and Jim Nantz comes on the air, it brings tears to your eyes,” said Dominic Nappi, founder and president of Back Nine Greens. “Imagine saying, ‘Come over to my house and watch the Masters, and I have the 12th hole in my backyard.’ How great is that?”
Tommy Craig, a former golf pro who lives in Ormond Beach, Fla., transforms his whole house for the Masters each year. He has two miniature holes, a leaderboard and a shed that looks like a tiny Butler Cabin.
There are also three outdoor tables with green-and-white paneled umbrellas, just like Augusta. In the front yard are flowers planted in the shape of the famous Augusta National — an outline of the United States with a golf flag planted in Georgia.
“We live at the end of a cul-de-sac and we’ve got woods behind us, so it already has that Augusta feel,” Craig said. “We even have azaleas out here, but I’m in Florida and they always seem to bloom a month early.”
While Craig has pieced together his backyard masterpiece, his wife, Stacy, has handled all of the Augusta touches inside — including re-creating the tournament’s menu for the guests who show up to watch on TV. She makes an array of sandwiches: chicken salad, egg salad, pimento cheese.
“I couldn’t do it without her,” Craig said.
Amen to that.
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Credit: University System of Georgia