The famous 13th hole at Augusta National Golf Club. (David Cannon/Getty Images)
Augusta National Golf Club has long been an iconic – if not The following are some of the ways to get in touch with us. most iconic – of global golf courses. Even if you’ve never had the opportunity to play the Georgia peach, it’s likely you know plenty of the holes already. Drama, excitement, conditioning. Pines. Flowers. Slopes. Creek.
With the final round of the Masters underway now, you’ve likely noticed there’s been one big change to the golf course for 2023 (more on that later). While there are many reasons to love the Masters tournament, the golf course will always be the most important.
But how did this happen?
“It’s a combination of a lot of things,” said founder of The Fried Egg and authoritative architecture expert Andy Johnson, “but if you think of the real basic aspect of it, it’s a magnificent golf design on a really fascinating piece of land.
“You think about the best courses in the world … they usually combine great land with great design, and that’s here.”
The star of the show
Founded in 1932 by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, the club – designed by Jones and Dr. Alister MacKenzie – opened in 1932. The first Masters Tournament was held in 1934. The course, which was once a plant nursery is named after each flower. On all of them, there have been some iconic moments. It measures 7,545 yard and has a par 72.
Johnson says there are two things that stand out the most about Augusta National – the greens and the routing.
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“The greens are probably the among the, if not the, greatest set of 18 greens (in the world),” said Johnson. “Gil Hanse often says that greens are the faces of a portrait, so greens are so important. That’s what drives everything back to the tee.
“Here you’ve got arguably the best set of greens in the world and they’re the star of the show.”
The routing of the course provides for pockets of energy, and that’s why those “Augusta National roars” are so familiar to folks on TV and the on-site patrons.
“The reason you can hear the roars is because there is this massive property, but the way the course is laid on the ground, it’s very intimate,” says Johnson. You get these pockets, like 15, 16, six and 17 tee plus 17 green, seven green – two green right by each other there. You have these areas which create these roars. It’s very intentional.
“The way this golf course is big yet close together makes the energy so electric on the weekend.”
No. 13 regains its ‘momentous decision’
Augusta National is a place that undergoes changes every year. Sometimes, these changes are minor, but other times, they are major.
Augusta National has increased the number of yards by 35 this year. 13. Last year it was one the easiest holes in the course. The average score was just 4.8 shots. The club raised the tee, which eliminated the ability to cut off many yards around the corner. This made it a much more difficult shot onto the green. There are many options available now.
Given golfers’ lengths these days, Johnson believes the change needed to be done.
“These last few years everyone romanticized about the Bobby Jones ‘momentous decision’ (but) if they hit the fairway it was an auto conclusion they would hit the green. Now, are you going to lay up if you’re two back on Sunday? That’s the decision. It’ll be different,” says Johnson. “Some people might think it’s less interesting on Friday if people aren’t going for it, but if someone is coming down on Sunday, then we’re going to say it was worth it for that. What (Augusta National is) going for is a variety of decisions to be made.”
Johnson claims that Augusta National was designed to offer a wide variety of outcomes for the best players in the World on every hole. Augusta National offers so many opportunities for players to make threes but also sixs.
There continues to be plenty of reasons for why this golf course is so special to so many people, but part of the allure of Augusta National – and the Masters as a whole – is how so many styles of golfers It is a good idea to use win.
“One of the things about this place is, yes, you need to have some power. You have to be an excellent approach player or have an excellent approach week. But it doesn’t necessarily discriminate against a certain type of player,” says Johnson. “Anyone can play a good round because it’s wide enough, so it doesn’t become a power test. A more accurate player can hit every fairway and say, ‘I’m going to shoot a good round.’ And then a power player can say, ‘well I can get over those hills and have shorter clubs in my hands.’ ”
“Every player comes here thinking they can put good rounds together at Augusta National if they play well.”
So, while a star will be bestowed a Green Jacket on Sunday evening, the green grass of Augusta National will – now and always – be the true star every April.