Augusta’s holes ranked from 1 to 18 - Part 3

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There are no bad holes at Augusta National but we thought course architecture specialist M James Ward was the perfect man to rank arguably the most famous 18 holes of golf. No pressure!
Posted on
March 2, 2023
by
M. James Ward in ,
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Gold Medalists

 

6) The 18th / Par 4 / 460 yards (Holly)

2022 Stroke Average: 4.388 (2)

The closing hole at Augusta National has played a pivotal role in the outcome of many Masters. The players drive through a chute of pine trees and it plays 70 feet uphill.

For many years the hole played 420 yards but the effective yardage, given the elevation change, often requires additional clubs to get to the two-tiered green.

In 2001 Tom Fazio extended the hole by 45 yards and the two fairway bunkers on the left were reshaped and expanded.

Those losing shots to the right can be quickly blocked out by trees. Those laying back from reaching the fairway bunkers are left with a much-longer approach shot.

The 18th has seen a slew of moments – both celebratory and gut wrenching. Nothing is assured until the last putt is holed.

 

5) The 10th / Par 4 / 495 yards (Camelia)

2022 Stroke Average: 4.233 (7)

The opening hole of the back nine provides a drop-off of more than 100 feet as the hole plunges downhill and turns left.

Originally it was far shorter with the green set to the right in a miniature amphitheatre.

Players must work a tee shot from right to left to gain additional yardage from the downslope. Approach shots are anything but elementary as the green is tilted from right to left.

The MacKenzie bunker, that previously protected the original 10th green, still remains even though it is more ornamental than strategic.

Many notable shots have been played at the hole called Camelia, the most prominent coming in 2012 when Bubba Watson skilfully hooked his second shot to the green after finishing in the woods to the right. It was that incredible shot that propelled him to the first of two Green Jackets.

 

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4) The 1st / par 4 / 445 yards (Tea Olive)

Stroke Average: 4.300 (4)

Few people pay much attention to Augusta's opener and it's simply a matter of the timing. Before most people settle in for Masters coverage the impact of the starting hole is in the rear-view mirror.

It's a different story for the players competing for The Green Jacket as they are firmly aware of the challenges that come as they face one of the most challenging tee shots at Augusta.

The opening in years past presented modest demands because the fairway was wide enough and the lone fairway bunker on the right was more scenic than sinister.

In 2002, matters changed significantly when architect Tom Fazio tapered the fairway landing area and the right fairway bunker was pushed back closer to the green. The bunker was then later moved back again necessitating a 315+ yard carry from the tee.

The putting surface is slightly elevated and requires a well-played approach. Missing the green to either side will result in bogey unless a deft recovery is played. The opener at Augusta is anything but automatic and states emphatically the words "be ready to play."

 

3) The 11th / par 4 / 520 yards (White Dogwood)

2022 Stroke Average: 4.477 (1)

The opening act of Amen Corner is now called White Dogwood and frankly the hole can just as easily be called white knuckler because of the enhanced demands presented.

Originally the hole was 415 yards and had a pronounced movement from left-to-right.

In 1952 it was straightened out and extended by 30 yards with a new tee set further back in the woods and just to the left of the 10th green. The creek left of the putting surface was dammed and the pond we see to the left of the green today took shape.

In 2002 the hole was lengthened to 490 yards. To make the tee shot more daunting the club added pines down the more open right side. In 2022 the hole was increased yet again to 520 yards.

During the beginnings of Tiger Woods' career, he would routinely have a wedge shot into the green. That's no longer the case for him or anyone else for that matter.

Ben Hogan was famous for saying if you see him on the green with his second shot it means he pulled his approach. The 11th is routinely among the three hardest holes at Augusta National and players are well aware of the inherent risks each time it is played.

 

2) The 13th / par 5 / 545 yards (Azalea)

2022 Stroke Average: 4.851 (16)

The 3rd leg of Amen Corner is named Azalea and the par five is often cited as the consummate risk/reward hole. Jones and MacKenzie believed having players make important decisions throughout a round of play was needed in order to weed out the pretenders from the contenders.

The dog-leg left entices the bold play off the tee. Players have to decide how aggressive a line of attack to take. Those able to work the ball from right-to-left around the corner are rewarded with a shorter shot to the green and a more level lie from the left side.

Rae's Creek takes a serpentine path as it moves from the left side of the hole and then wraps in front of the green. Eagles are possible but bogeys and worse are just a swing away too.

A new back teeing area has been added and the impact of the added distance is meant to restore the risk component that Jones believed was central in providing the appropriate balancing act for the reward offered. We shall soon see how that new tee impacts decision-making for the field in this year's event.

 

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1) The 12th / par 3 / 155 yards (Golden Bell)

2022 Stroke Average: 3.233 (6)

The famed short hole sits in the middle of famed Amen Corner. Over the years the hole has been in the forefront in both propelling and denying players their Green Jackets dreams.

Swirling winds make club selection pivotal. Resolute execution is paramount in being able to carry Rae's Creek and avoiding the trouble that awaits shots hit too strongly.

The green is also the smallest with just 4,135 square feet of putting surface.

While power golf has become more and more prevalent in championship golf, the 12th remains the epitome of precision and nerve.

 

Part 1, Part 2

 

Other articles in the 18 Club Series:
Those pretty little swings
The 17th hole at Sawgrass’s 18 most iconic moment
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About M. James Ward

A GWAA and MGWA member, the 66-year-old from the USA has covered golf in all facets since 1980, notably the major championships and other high level events. He has played over 2,000 courses globally and has competed in USGA Championships.

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