Welcome to Masters Week! Dawg Sports always spends a little extra time this week of the year on the Masters, and the rest of the sporting world turns its eyes our way as well.
Today, let’s take a closer look at the course itself. There have been a couple of noticeable tweaks, which we will discuss below. But no seismic changes and that is the beauty of Augusta National: most of the world hasn’t been fortunate enough to play it but long time fans can describe the holes in detail as if we had. Because it is the only major tournament to be held at a single venue, and a venue that holds quite a unique tournament. So we get to revisit famous holes like old friends, the kind that don’t experience awkward silences but instead greet each other with warmth and fondness.
Number 11, the par 4, has one of the announced changes. They ook out some trees on the right of 11 fairway. Most of those pines were still fairly immature, having been planted in the last decade. It made players think twice about blocking one right and with out-of-bounds penalty left, really limited the shot shape required to be safe.
Now with the thinning, players might still use that right side as a bail out. Or at least, “if I miss, the only miss will be right”. It is still restricting your vision and shot windows, but it isn’t absolute jail requiring a chip out sideways.
The one change making all the news is the final hole of Amen Corner. Thirteen tee has been moved back approximately 35 yards. The intent is to prevent today’s modern player from driving over the left hand corner trees, and moreso to force tee shots to the right side where a longer side hill lie awaits. At the previous distance of 510 yards, a good tee shot would land on the flatter left side and a much shorter and easier approach to the green (and an eagle putt). Players were often left with short irons into the par 5, making the hole essentially a par 4. It wasn’t every player, and it wasn’t even pulled off every day. But the Masters committee wanted to make Rae’s Creek in front of the green a much more menacing obstacle. So moving the teeing area back reduces the dogleg visibility as an option and keeps the right side (and trees) as something to consider. And to put longer clubs in players’ hands, making hitting the green in two shots a riskier proposition – still rewarding, just riskier.
The course has received plenty of rain over the last couple of weeks so it will not be dry and fast. But thanks to their subterranean air flow systems running under the greens, the tournament committee can literally suck moisture out of the greens and speed them up. So no big deal, right?
The weather doesn’t look to be doing anyone any favors. Rain is forecast for pretty much every tournament day, increasing to a 90% chance Saturday. And temperatures will be cooling off considerably, with highs in the 60’s or even 50’s for the weekend. No sub-air system in the world can keep a course dry if it rains 4 days in a row.
They traditionally mow the fairways from the green back to the tee, creating a “grain” in the grass that prevents much roll-out of a tee shot. If wet, it can also increase the chances of “mud balls”, or balls that hit soft, wet ground and mud sticks to the ball surface. The tournament committee will make the call on whether to play local rule “lift, clean, & place” aka “preferred lies”. if the course is very wet. This ruling would allow players who are in the fairway to clean their ball and place it within a very close proximity, thus giving players their best chance. I can say the tournament committee rarely uses this option – they much prefer to let Mother Nature dictate the breaks.
So the course will likely be wet and play long. That is a disadvantage for those players who don’t hit it long. But it might hurt Tiger Woods even more. Woods, with plenty of ball speed, is still troubled by leg issues from his 2021 car accident. This isn’t an easy walk on the best day – if it’s soggy, it will be even more tiring. Throw in cooler temps and that doesn’t help someone with a leg injury who experiences soreness and long warm-ups to even swing the club and walk 18 holes in a day. Not to mention the possibility of mid-round delays so start/stop is nothing anyone looks forward to.
Now we’d like to know: what is your favorite hole at Augusta National? The second nine has all of the big names: the par three 12th, the par 5 thirteenth (making up Amen Corner), the par 3 sixteenth over water? Even the 18th hole is iconic, serving as either crowning a champion or the source of heartache (see: Norman, Greg). So let us know which hole you like the most in the poll below, and why in the comment section. Personally I think #5 is the hardest looking hole, but I love #2 with its huge swerves right to left and down and up.
We will be back later in the week with more about the tournament and the former ‘Dawgs in the field. And as always,
What is your favorite hole at Augusta National/The Masters?
This poll is closed
12th - Par 3
13th - Par 5
15th - Par 5
16th - Par 3
18th - Par 4
Other - Please explain in the comments