Where did Amen Corner get its name?
Holes 11-13 at Augusta National are possibly the three most talked about holes at Augusta National if not in golf. As you come over the brow of the 11th fairway you enter one of the most tranquil and beautiful parts of any golf course in the world. The azalea’s in bloom behind the 12th green, Rae’s creek, the Nelson bridge and the Hogan bridge all add to the stunning nature of this stretch of holes but, have you ever wondered where Amen Corner got its name?
Well, let me take you back to the 1958, which was an eventful year at Augusta National. For starters, this was when the two bridges in honour of Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson were donated to pass over Rae’s Creek. This is when the name Amen corner was born by Sports Illustrated writer Herbert Warren Wind due to most of the critical action occurring on this stretch of holes that year.
Wind, who died in 2005 at the age of 88, took the name from a jazz recording named “Shoutin’ in that Amen Corner” by William’s Washboard Band. Wind dubbed this stretch of holes Amen Corner and after the 1958 Masters he said:
"On the afternoon before the start of the recent Masters golf tournament, a wonderfully evocative ceremony took place at the farthest reach of the Augusta National Course -- down in the Amen Corner where Rae's Creek intersects the 13th fairway near the tee, then parallels the front edge of the green on the short 12th and finally swirls alongside the 11th green."
Almost 60 years on and holes 11, 12 and 13 still go by the famous name of Amen Corner and has since become part of the tournament’s history. Wind wrote many great stories about the Masters and the players that competed as well as golf in general, so make sure you check out some of his work.
The Nelson Bridge commemorates Nelson’s birdie at 12 and eagle at 13 that ultimately won him the 1937 Masters and the Hogan Bridge memorialises Hogan’s score of 274 in the 1953 Masters, which at the time was the lowest recorded score for 72 holes around Augusta.
Hole 11 is often played as one of the hardest holes on the course and the stretch of three holes tends to average a score of +1 most years. There is often specific coverage of Amen Corner where you can watch the world’s best golfers tackle this tough test of holes. There has also been some memorable moments at these holes so let’s take a closer look.
Hole 11 – White Dogwood
This 505-yard par 4 is regularly one of the toughest holes on the course due to the accuracy required off the tee. If you don’t get a good drive away then you are even more at risk of finding the water to the left of the green as you try to force a long iron or wood to the green.
The highest score recorded on this hole is a 9 and more professionals than you’d think have scored it. The first 9 came in the 1952 Masters when Dow Finsterwald carded a 9 and this was followed closely by Bo Winninger in 1958. Twenty-two years later it was William Moody’s turn to sign for a 9 with the most recent coming at the 2006 Masters when Charles Howell III also took 9 attempts to get the ball in the hole.
The lowest score at the hole is a 2, which has been achieved by Jerry Barber (1962), Brad Faxon (2002), K.J. Choi (2004), and Rory Sabbatini (2006).
The most memorable moment came when Larry Mize holed his 140ft chip shot for birdie in a playoff against Greg Norman in 1987. Greg Norman couldn’t match his birdie and the local lad was named the 1987 Masters champion. Watch it here:
Hole 12 – Golden Bell
Despite only being 155-yards long, the players only hitting as little as a wedge or 9-iron some days and the green being 30 yards wide, this hole has wreaked havoc over the years.
The highest score recorded at this hole incredibly is a 13. If you listen to the commentary on this hole you will often hear about the time Tom Weiskopf made 13 at the 1980 Masters. Weiskopf took aim with a 7-iron but found Rae’s Creek and then from the drop zone he dunked four more.
The lowest score, as you probably guessed, is a hole in one, which has been achieved by Claude Harmon (1947), William Hyndman (1959) and Curtis Strange (1988).
One of the most memorable moments on this hole was when Fred Couples’ ball somehow defied gravity and stayed dry. Leading the Masters, Couples made the error of leaving his tee shot short on 12 but somehow, despite spinning down the bank, his ball finished short and the American got up and down for par. He went on to win the tournament by two shots.
Take a look at his recovery chip shot here:
Hole 13 – Azalea
Arguably Augusta’s most beautiful hole, the par 5 13th is really there for the taking but again has claimed some victims in its time, mainly due to the water that runs down the entirety of the left side of the fairway and in front of the green.
The highest score here was made by Tommy Nakajima in the 1978 Masters when he carded an eight over par 13. The lowest score is still in the hands of Jeff Maggert who made a 2 on this hole in 1994.
Phil Mickelson’s 6-iron out of the trees on this hole is arguably the most memorable shot on this hole. With a giant tree trunk in front, most golfers would choose to chip out and take the punishment but not Phil. Mickelson instead hit a draw around the tree and somehow got the ball to land softly on the green after it cleared the water. This would eventually be key factor in holding off England’s Lee Westwood.
Take a look at the amazing shot here:
So there you have it. Whenever you hear somebody at your golf club ask why holes 11, 12 and 13 at Augusta National are called Amen Corner you can confidentially give them an answer. It also might come in handy if you’re a regular pub quizzer.
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