A Post-ANWA Chat

On-the-ground observations from the 2024 Augusta National Women's Amateur


Earlier this afternoon at Augusta National Golf Club, two important things happened almost simultaneously: Bailey Shoemaker finished off a bogey-free 66, a tournament record; and Lottie Woad bogeyed the par-5 13th hole to drop to five under, two strokes behind Shoemaker’s clubhouse lead. At that point, Shoemaker, a freshman at USC, was the odds-on favorite to win the fifth annual Augusta National Women’s Amateur.

But you know what they say about the safety of leads on Sunday at The Masters. It’s no less true at ANWA.

Woad, a Florida State sophomore hailing from Farnham, England, birdied three of her last four holes to pip Shoemaker by one. Her 3-3 knockout punch on Nos. 17 and 18 was clinical and emphatic.

Observing all of this from the grounds at Augusta National were Fried Egg Golf’s Meg Adkins and Garrett Morrison. After the winner’s press conference, they convened in the comfy confines of the Press Building to eat Masters-branded caramel popcorn and talk about what they saw. Meg followed Woad for most of the day, and Garrett had a rope-side view of Shoemaker’s finishing flurry—so there was plenty to discuss.

Garrett: You saw a lot of Lottie today. What’s your big takeaway about her game, personality, vibe, etc.?

Meg: She’s just methodical. Composed and steady through the early part of the day, smiling and laughing with her caddie on multiple occasions. Her major hiccup, the bogey on 13, could’ve sent the car off the tracks, but instead it was the moment she settled in and took her game to another level.

Garrett: What exactly happened on 13?

Meg: A series of unfortunate mistakes, really. Her 4-wood off the tee didn’t draw, which forced her to lay up. She had a yardage she didn’t love on her third shot and pulled her wedge, putting herself on the left side of the green with the pin front right. Then her lag putt picked up speed, so much so that she thought it might go into the creek. She had much more than she wanted for par. And after all that, Lottie was two back with four to play.

Then something interesting happened. She and her caddie spent a long time on the 13th green, going back to the spot of her first putt. She looked frustrated. No doubt she was disappointed she didn’t take advantage of a reachable par 5. After some more discussion, the pair finally made their way to 14. My impression was that they had just taken a moment for Lottie to compose herself before the crucial finishing stretch. Time well spent, it seems.

Garrett: Are there any little moments that stand out to you from Lottie’s last two holes? It’s hard to remember the last time someone closed that hard at Augusta National.

Meg: After narrowly missing the birdie putt on 16, Lottie had to play perfect golf the rest of the way in order to win.

That started with her drive on 17—beautiful. She had only 104 yards in, and from that point on, Lottie didn’t miss. Two massive birdie putts. But that stretch is kind of a blur for me. I was walking as quickly as allowed between shots. I eventually found myself near Lottie’s family left of 18 green, which was lucky. Seeing first-hand their reactions, screams, tears, hugs, and high fives, and what this meant to them was a storybook way to wrap up ANWA.

Let’s talk about Lottie’s chaser, Bailey Shoemaker. What a performance. You caught up with her for most of the back nine. What was the best shot you saw her hit?

Garrett: I was super impressed with her lag putt on 18. She hit her approach really well, but the pin was in front and her ball wound up on the back tier. (She later said that she was between a 7-iron and an 8-iron, and she went with the 7. Obviously flushed it.) It’s tough to describe how hard that putt is from up there. She hit it with perfect speed, though, and left herself with a four-footer to post -7. I really thought that was her winning moment. A great par.

In general, Bailey was just in the zone. Very calm and in control and no-nonsense. Quick to pull the trigger, quick to start walking in a good putt. Fun to watch.

Meg: I heard something weird happened with her tee shot on 16. What was that all about?

Garrett: Yeah, I’m not sure I’ve seen a shot like this on 16 before. She clearly pulled it. She started talking to it right away, begging it to go, and the gallery was making those water-ball murmurs. But then it landed on the left fringe and hopped right. She made the putt and was suddenly the solo leader. It was a good break, and she admitted as much in her post-round interview. She said the ball was about a “centimeter” from being in the pond.

So we’re now five years into the ANWA Era. Kupcho, Kajitani, Davis, Zhang, and now Woad. Does it feel like the tournament has evolved or matured a bit?

Meg: Yes, I think it’s coming into its own and has found its identity. A lot of that comes from the fact that many of the competitors this year were playing in their third or fourth ANWA. They’re more comfortable with the format, the course, the crowds, all of it. From a fan perspective, those who tune in every year recognize these names, remember the triumphs or missteps, and have context for what they’re seeing play out in front of them.

Even the players have their own memories of past ANWAs. Bailey Shoemaker mentioned this after her round, right?

Garrett: That was a great little moment in the flash zone (or whatever it is that ANGC calls the flash zone). Bailey was asked whether she remembered watching the 2019 ANWA as a kid, and she lit up:

“I do, yes. I was actually hoping someone would [ask] that. My dad and I watched Fassi and Kupcho, and that was amazing. It was so inspirational. I think I was 14, 15 at the time, and I played Drive, Chip & Putt when I was 11. I was like, all I want to do is get back to Augusta…. They did such a good job putting on a show and just showing friendship and showing good competition, fairness, and just—it was so big for the women’s game, I feel like. Just inspirational for everybody.”

None of this was media-trained patter. Bailey was earnestly excited to be discussing this subject. And it made me realize how important the Kupcho-Fassi duel has become in the imaginations of many young golfers. It has turned into one of those generational moments—a milestone in the history of women’s amateur golf. I think a lot of future ANWA players will talk about being inspired by Kupcho vs. Fassi.

Bailey Shoemaker, just after an exceptional two-putt on No. 18

Meg: Changing topics a bit here. You had your first Masters Merchandise Shop experience today. How’d it go?

Garrett: Is the official name the “Masters Merchandise Shop”?

Meg: I have no idea, but it sounds official.

Garrett: I think it’s called the Pro Shop?

Meg: That’s not nearly as good as my name for it.

Garrett: I mean, agreed. The facility has certainly exceeded the dimensions of a conventional pro shop at this point.

Right, so I’ve never gone into the Place with All the Merch. I’ve avoided it intentionally. But this year I felt obligated to bring something home to my kids, who are getting to the age at which they say things like, “Why do you never bring us anything from Augusta National, Dad?” So I took the plunge with you this morning, before most of the groups went out. And the long and short of it is that we waited in line for an hour and fifteen minutes.

Meg: Yes, we wound up and down and up again until finally getting through the doors. I made my way to the kids area first, as I too am expected to not come home from this trip empty-handed. This section seemed especially crowded. After seeing a frustrated lady loudly complain that a certain onesie wasn’t available in her child’s size, I quickly chose a few things I think will fit my kids, grabbed a random cup and hat, and escaped back outside.

Garrett: Tough scene. My unsubstantiated theory is that they made more tickets available this year. Either that or we’re in the midst of a gnome frenzy, the proportions of which may not become clear until Masters week.

Fortunately, out on the course, things were very laid back. Lots of room to roam. I get why people want to go to The Masters—it’s The Masters!—but I think ANWA is a better spectating experience in a lot of ways. Am I wildly off-base there?

Meg: Not at all. I followed Lottie for most of her round, and it only became difficult to navigate the crowds and watch the action on the last two holes. That’s never going to be the case at The Masters. ANWA provides much more freedom of movement. It’s a breeze to see the entire course, watch multiple groups, or grab a prime spot for your chair at Amen Corner.

Garrett: It’s really great. Usually at the end of covering a tournament, even a cool or exciting one, I’m ready for it to be over. I’m okay with waiting a year for that particular event to come back around. But I can’t wait for the next ANWA.