It’s been 17 years since Luke List played a competitive round at Augusta National Golf Club.
But this year, the 37-year-old returns to the place he earned the distinction of Low Amateur back in 2005, making his first Masters Tournament start as a professional.
“It means everything,” he said. “It’s the best tournament in the world and to be able, especially living in Augusta the last four years, to be back after such a long time is really special and it’s hard to put into words how much it means to me personally.”
For List, it was a different world in 2005. He was entering his final season at Vanderbilt, occupying his time as a college student. Now he’s a husband and father of two. Many things have changed for List in those 17 years, but his love for the Masters is as fresh as it was back then.
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“Those factors obviously play into that, but as far as my passion for the game and my love for the Masters, not much is different, which is pretty cool,” he said. “One of my buddies sent me a promo video for the Masters and I got goosebumps, just the same as I would have back then. It still means everything to me to be teeing it up there.”
Since winning the Farmers Insurance Open in January to gain his place at Augusta National, he’s tied for 53rd in Phoenix, missed two cuts and withdrew from The Players Championship.
He’s in the field for the WGC Match Play event in Austin and scheduled to be in the Texas Open in San Antonio before coming back to Augusta.
The talk of momentum heading into a major differs from player to player. Some value coming in playing some of their best golf, while others are able to compartmentalize courses like Augusta National into their own box. List is admittedly undecided, saying he can see both sides of the debate.
“Golf is a funny game. I mean I’ve seen it go both ways. I think some guys definitely want to have some momentum and that might take them out of certain majors, but for me I’ve been playing pretty decent this year and fighting a few little injuries and stuff, so I’m trying to get completely healthy for that week,” he said.
“As far as momentum goes, you can catch lightning in a bottle at the right time and we’ve seen that with some of the Masters champions. I’m looking forward to playing, regardless of how my game feels.”
List’s life has seen a few changes since 2005, and the course has, too. He’s spent the past several months learning as much as he can from members and caddies, so things will go that much smoother once the competitive atmosphere sets in.
“I’ve been out there a few times and I’ve had a really good local caddy that’s helped me a lot on the golf course,” he said. “I think that’s the biggest thing if you can get your grasp on the golf course, then the entity of the actual tournament is a separate thing to mentally conquer. I feel like I’ve done my homework. (Augusta National) does a really good job of allowing the guys that are qualified to come in a few times and see the course.”
Perhaps the biggest experience he’s looking forward to is the Par 3 Tournament. Its winner has never given a green jacket in the same week, but that fact takes a back seat to the experience for the players and their families on the eve of the first round.
“It’s going to be a fun week seeing lots of friends and family and the Par 3 will be a lot of fun with my family,” he said. “I’ve talked to a lot of guys with kids and their experiences with that. It’s a lot of fun and chaos at the same time, so I’m excited to share that memory with my wife and two kids.”
Unlike any tournament he’s played in his career, he has the unique opportunity to sleep in his own bed each night. Now a fixture of the Augusta community, he praised the area for how it supports the game and its players.
“I don’t know that anyone has lived closer to Magnolia Lane than I do, so it’s pretty neat,” he said. “Having my wife and my in-laws spend their whole life here and be a local resident now, it’s such a great golf community and all the people are so supportive of their guys. To be one of those guys now, for people to keep up with and cheer for, is really special.”