05 Apr 2023

Augusta National – Navigate the nastiness

Situated just a few hundred yards beyond a relatively nondescript road to the north west of Augusta, Georgia, the hallowed turf of Augusta National Golf Club has been the venue for the Masters since 1934 and is the only Major to be played at the same course every year.

While the venue is adored across the world, navigating through all of the nasty surprises that Augusta’s 18 holes toss up is a tricky task and one that is crucial to winning the Masters. Prior course knowledge is favourable given the fact that the last man to win on his debut came back in 1979 when Fuzzy Zoeller defeated Tom Watson and Ed Snead in a sudden-death play-off. Here, we look at the four nastiest holes from last year that mucked up a scorecard or two.

11th – White Dogwood

“It’s more than likely going to be the toughest hole of the week,” said three-time Masters champion Nick Faldo before last year’s tournament, and boy was he right. White Dogwood underwent a substantial amount of reconstruction after the 2021 edition which included moving and shifting the tee box 15 yards further back and to the left, removing 15 trees along the right side to widen the landing area significantly, raising the right side of the green to create a more dramatic falloff to the traditional bailout zone and extending the pond to the left of the green forward about 10 more yards. The hole was ranked the hardest last year, averaging 4.477 strokes and witnessed 96 bogeys, 22 double bogeys, 155 pars and just ten birdies across four rounds.

18th – Holly

Entering last year’s tournament, the 18th was the seventh-most difficult hole at Augusta National in the history of the tournament, but it played a lot harder in 2022, ranking as the second toughest with a scoring average of 4.388. The increase in difficulty was largely  down to the wind blowing from the left, which made the hole troublesome for right-handed golfers who prefer a left-to-right ball flight. The crosswind brought into play the pine tree limbs overhanging the left side and kept the spotters in the right trees busy. “It’s kind of a daunting tee shot on 18 with that wind howling out of the left,” Jason Kokrak said after a closing par. Across the week, the hole saw 93 bogeys, 20 double bogeys, 145 pars and 25 birdies.

5th – Magnolia

Magnolia was the toughest hole at the 2021 edition of the Masters, but played slightly easier last year ranking the third hardest on the course with a scoring average of 4.332. An uphill hole that doglefts left, players wanting to get around the corner from the tee must carry a drive over the deep bunkers more than 310 yards. The green slopes back to the front, while a rear bunker catches balls hit too long – finding the fairway and green is vital to walking away with a four here. Last year there were 11 double bogeys, 84 bogeys, 175 pars and just 13 birdies.

1st – Tea Olive

Standing on the first tee, you’d hope for an easy start to the Masters but Tea Olive is anything but that, especially last year when it played as the fourth hardest hole on the course. A slight dogleg right that plays uphill, the stars of the golfing world need to be wary of the trees to the left before placing a premium on accuracy with the second shot to an undulating green. A poorly struck approach is likely to result in a difficult two-putt. Ernie Els infamously started the 2016 edition with a six-putt en route to posting a 9 – the highest ever score on the hole. There were 11 double bogeys, 79 bogeys, 176 pars and 17 birdies on the opening hole last year.

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