March 2, 2016
Jack Nicklaus once joked that if Augusta National kept expanding its golf course that ''pretty soon we'll be teeing off downtown somewhere.'' He never mentioned anything about teeing off from a different golf course.
Whether that happens remains to be seen, but the 13th hole is getting a lot of attention ahead of the Masters.
Golfweek magazine is reporting that Augusta National has approached neighboring Augusta Country Club about acquiring land behind Amen Corner. The ninth fairway at Augusta Country Club is parallel - separated by a row of trees that block the view - of the 11th green, 12th green and 13th tee box at Augusta National.
The magazine cited sources it did not identify. Augusta National had no comment.
Augusta National previously has bought land around the club for reasons unrelated to the golf course, though the Golfweek report allowed for an immediate conclusion that the target would be the 13th hole. The par 5 measures 510 yards, and two years ago Bubba Watson took it over the trees and had a sand wedge into the green.
The hole was only 480 yards on the card for the first Masters in 1934. During the most extensive lengthening for the 2002 Masters, it went from 485 yards to 510 yards. It's one of the most exciting holes on the back nine with a severely canted fairway and a tributary of Rae's creek in front of the green.
If the club were to acquire part of neighboring course, the 13th tee could be pushed farther back.
''The tee shot at 13 would be helped by a little bit of length,'' said Nicklaus, a six-time Masters champion. ''The tee shot is really dangerous and it needs to be hit well. I think we the length the guys hit the ball today, it's a little easier than it needs to be.''
As for Augusta Country Club, the magazine said Tom Fazio and Brian Silva are working on changes to move the ninth hole and change the eighth green.