So what if it's September. Please press play on the video below before proceeding to appropriately set the mood.
We're a long way from the Masters but any chance I get to talk Augusta National, I'm gonna do it.
There's not many golf courses where a mere modification to a hole would warrant a blog in itself. In fact, there's really only one. Maybe if something extravagant happened to an iconic hole like the island green at Sawgrass or the road hole at St. Andrews I'd be taking off my CPA hat (extension szn) and putting on my blogging hat, but Amen Corner at Augusta National is really the only surefire blog.
The 13th in particular is my favorite hole on planet Earth. Both as a TV spectator and as one of the millions who dream of one day teeing it up there (I've been on the grounds but merely for a job interview... a story for another day). Its status as an unofficial par 4.5 and wild scoring variance makes for incredible drama on the
back second nine of golf's greatest tournament. Plus I like to sit on my couch like Ian Woosnam...
…and just picture myself hitting a high draw around that corner so that I can try to get home in two. There's no tee shot I'm dying to hit more on this Earth than the one at Azalea.
These changes, though, have the potential to change that tee shot dramatically. ANGC bought up all kinds of land from Augusta Country Club next door (and damn near all other surrounding land) five years ago with intentions of lengthening this hole, and they've finally done it. The idea is clearly to give the hole its teeth back and force guys to re-consider what they're hitting off the tee. Some with extraordinary length have just been going over the corner. Bryson is the most extreme example of this, and he's had as little as a flip wedge in for his 2nd.
Other guys (usually players with less length or those who exclusively hit a fade) merely hit 3-wood, knowing that it's a club with enough length (and better accuracy) to get past the corner and but not enough club to reach the trees. Each of these options leaves you a reasonable look at reaching the green in two without a ton of risk along the way. Obviously that's not the original design concept of the hole, so ANGC is trying to return Azalea to its roots. It's unclear how far back the new tee is from the 2022 Masters, but Twitter sleuths are pegging it around 565 yards…
That's definitely going to put driver back in just about everyone's hands and definitely take the notion of flying aimlessly over the corner out of play. Which I gotta say… isn't a lot of fun, but it's going to present a far bigger challenge to these younger, stronger players that have been obliterating this hole. You can't just reach back and smash anymore. I expect shot-shape and accuracy to be much more emphasized with this change.
I'm sure that suits a guy like JT (who is my perennial Masters pick until he inevitably wins one)
I will say another downside to this is that it will likely force the old-timers to play it as a 3-shot hole every time. Bad news for the Fred Couples and Bernhard Langers of the world. And hell, that might include Tiger soon too. Goddamnit, I hate that I went there.
Overall, I loved the wacky nature of the way it had been playing. Par is just a construct, who cares if it gave away tons of birdies and eagles? It's not like we didn't see Bryson and plenty of others blow up on this hole either. I would've left it as is, but that's why I'm me and Augusta National is Augusta National. I'm excited to see it come April for better or worse.