Pivotal Holes to Watch at The Masters
As we all know, each and every hole that combines to make Augusta National has been carved and shaped with the utmost of significance.
This is just one of many reasons why fans, players and everyone associated with the sport care about The Masters so deeply.
However, as is the norm for every golf course, there are a collection of holes that are extra special; holes that can make or break green jacket dreamers.
We’ve identified the six most influential holes on the grounds of Augusta National, those that typically produce the most drama.
Tea Olive - Hole No. 1
The first hole is where the time for hype and excitement concludes swiftly, as patrons await their favourite players to get going for the week. A fairly straightforward tee shot, the players will prefer the left-side of the fairway to avoid the bunker that resides on the right. Stray too far left, however, and your ball will be amongst the trees - which isn’t an ideal way to begin your annual trip to Augusta.
The hole plays uphill and features a slight dogleg right, where the players will be hitting their approach to an undulating green. The second shot is arguably the most crucial, as anything other than their absolute best will leave a devious and overwhelmingly difficult two-putt. Originally, the opening hole also included a left fairway bunker but that has since been removed.
White Dogwood - Hole No. 11
The start of Amen Corner, or should we say the start of a nightmarish stretch. Amen Corner is rightfully an integral part of Augusta National, and to escape this venomous collection of holes even-par is something everyone will be praying for. The tee shot plays downhill and left-to-right, which is uncommon for Augusta, considering it usually prefers right-to-left openings.
An integral part of history once took place here too. Larry Mize produced a sensational chip-in to defeat Greg Norman in a playoff during the 1987 edition - the Australian would never earn a green jacket, despite finishing runner-up on three occasions. Famously, Rae’s Creek used to run in front of this green before it was replaced by the current pond that keeps players tossing and turning at night.
Golden Bell - Hole No. 12
Probably the most iconic par-3 in the world and it could even be the greatest golfing hole on the globe full-stop. For a hole that measures a mere 155 yards, you’d think the players would have a field day. You would, of course, be fundamentally incorrect as the swirling wind can make club selection a sorrowful nightmare. As amateurs, we are told to block out all visual danger, but the professionals cannot help but see Rae’s Creek and three daunting bunkers staring right back at them.
To find the green is an accomplishment in its own right, and Masters competitors will typically be relying on anything between a 9 to 6-iron for this troublesome challenge. The narrow green, looming water and expansive bunkers have combined to destroy hopefuls dreaming of their green jacket - and we can assume it will be its characterful self for the latest addition.
Azalea - Hole No. 13
Standing at 510 yards, the majority of the field have the capabilities of reaching this green in two. As we know, however, Augusta is a completely different animal. Firstly, the competitors will be tasked with finding the centre of the fairway, as the sweeping dogleg left will encourage bravery for those looking to secure eagle.
The putting surface is raised and there are four intimidating bunkers gleefully protecting the main target. The history of this hole is remarkable, as Alister Mackenzie only had to build a green towards the far-side of the stream. Boasting a historical average of 4.77, this is a good opportunity for the players to get a stroke back on the golf course.
Firethorn - Hole No. 15
The 15th is another reachable par-5, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t dipped in danger and excitement. Of course, for the players who are opting to go for glory, they will need gentle assistance from the wind and if it’s blowing towards them, a layup would surely be their best approach. After finding the fairway, an expertly struck second shot must be played over the pond and away from the bunker located to the right-side of the green.
This wasn’t always the case, as the 15th originally stood with no greenside bunker. Bobby Jones was a firm believer that all of the par-5s that reside at Augusta should be reached within two shots by the better players, which influenced this decision. Gene Sarazen arguably hit the greatest shot of all time at this hole, as he holed out for an albatross in 1935.
Redbud - Hole No. 16
The Sunday pin on Redbud is why we all probably fell in love with this prestigious competition. The tee shot is played entirely over water and there are three bunkers protecting the green. The putting surface slopes from right-to-left and thus, can produce an ace or two with the correct placement of the ball.
Did you know that the original design emulated the 12th hole? It was reworked in 1947 as it played too easy for the world’s best, so a pond was built and to accommodate the new hazard, the green was relocated to the right. This hole holds the potential of rewarding courageous players, and we should see plenty of gallantry come late Sunday afternoon.
We’ve selected just six holes from Augusta National, but we could have easily included each and every single one - it really is that special.
The time for preparation is almost over and as the professionals examine each contour carefully, they’ll need every ounce of confidence if they are to be crowned Masters champion on this monstrous golf course.
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