Hole by hole: The pros break down Augusta National
February 28, 2015
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
- PGA TOUR players give their insider perspectives on each hole at Augusta National before the start of the Masters this week in the gallery below (Harry How/Getty Images)
Augusta National Golf Club is familiar territory to golf fans, many of whom eagerly watch the year's first major championship on television. A two-dimensional screen cannot accurately display the holes' extreme elevation changes or the subtle slopes on the course's famed putting surfaces. That's why PGATOUR.COM asked the world's best players to describe how they play Augusta National's historic holes. We hope their insight will give you a deeper appreciation for this hallowed ground.
No. 1: 455 yards, par-4
Ryan Moore says: “It’s a pretty straightforward hole. It’s a driver, some of the longer guys may hit a 3-wood. Ideally, you want to aim something down that left-center and hit a nice little power fade and try to keep it out of that bunker on the right-hand side. You can get away with it from that bunker sometimes, but it is a pretty big lip and can be a tough spot. Depending on the conditions, you can have anything from 4-iron to an 8- or 9-iron.
“The green slopes pretty much back-to-front, there’s a little tier in the middle-right section. It’s one of the more underrated, difficult greens out there. You can have putts on that green with 7 to 8 feet of break. It’s such a tough green, especially the front 1/3 of it. If you’re hitting something shorter and you have any spin, and you land it on the front third of the green, it’s coming off the green quite a bit, to a spot that’s not the easiest up-and-down. If you miss it left to a back-left pin, you’re completely dead and happy to make a bogey.”
No. 2: 575 yards, par-5
Rickie Fowler says: “No. 2 at Augusta, you come into it as your first real birdie opportunity. It’s maybe one of the easier drives for a lot of guys, you just aim it at the fairway bunker and try to hit a draw. It’s a tough second shot. You have a downhill lie, usually in the 240 area, and the green is sloped severely left-to-right and you don’t want to be above the hole. The trees on the left mean you almost always have to draw it into the green and with it being a downhill lie, it’s tough to do that. You’ll see guys, if they’re not comfortable with the shot, hit it into the front-right bunker or push it down to the bottom right side of the fairway, where you’ll have some fairly easy chips to some of the pins. The one bunker you really try to avoid is the front-left. To the front pin, if you hit it anywhere left, it’s almost impossible to hit it within 20 feet of the hole. There’s a lot of strategy at Augusta, but especially in the par 5s.”
No. 3: 350 yards, par-4
Scott Stallings says: “On the tee shot, it all depends where the pin is. If it’s left, I’ll lay back farther. If it’s on the right, especially the back-right, you can hit it up there as far as you can. It’s tough to make sure you get all the way to the back-right pin if you lay back. From up close, you can pitch it in there and not be worried about spinning it too much. You’re trying to avoid short-left and those bunkers. If you execute it right, you have a legitimate chance at birdie.
“If the ball is rolling, you can hit a 5-iron or 6-iron off the tee, but if it’s not, you can hit 2-iron or hybrid. I usually have about 140 yards if I lay back. If it’s dry, I can hit driver onto the upslope and have 30 yards. It just depends on what the ball is doing.”
No. 4: 240 yards, par-3
“Flowering Crab Apple”
Jason Dufner says: "I'm usually hitting a 3-iron, sometimes a 5-wood. It's probably the toughest hole on the golf course, to be honest. I'm just trying to get it on the green. That front-right bunker plays OK to a couple of the hole locations. You're not going to make worse than a 4 from the front-right bunker, and you'll have a pretty good chance at 3. It's just one of those holes where you're trying to make par. I think I made birdie once.
"The front-left pin is extremely tough. It's not very wide, maybe 12 to 14 paces at the most. You're probably better off in that left bunker when the pin is in the front.
"The green is extremely tilted from right to left. The green is pretty level from front to back. There's a false front on the front-left. You want to try to hit a (shot) that's high in the air and has a lot of spin. A high cut is really nice if you can get the number right. You get a mixed bag of wind on that hole. I've played it when it's downwind and from the left, and sometimes it's into the wind from the right."
No. 5: 455 yards, par-4
Trevor Immelman (2008 Masters champ) says: “It’s a hard hole. You’re just trying to find the fairway between the traps (on the left) and the pine trees down the right. The bunker is probably 20 feet deep. It’s hard to get to that bunker. There’s a bit of rough there, and the way that hill sits, if you’ve pulled one, it will come up short and you can try to hook something around (the bunker). You don’t have much of a shot from down there. Depending on the wind, and if the weather is nice, you can have anything between a 6-iron to an 8- or 9-iron in. That green is very undulating. The first 15 yards of the green are really irrelevant because of those (steep, uphill) slopes. It doesn’t even feel like it’s green. You have to land it at least 15 (yards) on. If you can keep the ball just short of the back bunker, you can pretty much putt to any pin. It’s a hard two-putt if you’re not on that flat part in the back.”
No. 6: 180 yards, par-3
Jim Furyk says: “No. 6 is interesting because if the pin is front left, you have a chance to put the ball on the green and feed it down to the hole. Back-left is almost impossible to get the ball to it. You’re going to be putting from 20 feet short and rarely do you get the putt to the hole because it’s quick and you don’t want to knock it by. That top-right pin, it’s tough to get the ball to stop on that level. For every 10 good iron shots I’ve hit at that top shelf, I’ve probably only had three or four balls stop on it. It’s probably only about 8 yards by 7 yards, at the most. A lot of that isn’t useable, because if you hit it on the back, it’s going to go over. You’re hitting to a very small area, but most guys will take a pop at it. If you miss it a little long, I’d rather have that chip or putt from back there.”
No. 7: 450 yards, par-4
Chris Kirk says: "It's sneakily one of the toughest par-4s out there. They kind of force you to hit driver now because they've added so much length to it. It's still probably the narrowest fairway on the course.
"You have to start with a good tee shot. From there, you generally have anywhere from a wedge to an 8-iron into that green. There's no club that you would feel real comfortable hitting into that green. The green is so shallow and you have three distinct segments. The front-right pin is really the only one that you feel like you can get it close to. You can use the slope of the green to funnel the ball toward the hole.
"They have a new pin on the far right right behind the bunker. Anyone who hits it at that one is either stupid or made a mistake.
"The pins on the left are so tough. They're up on a high point, and it's easy to miss right and have the ball funnel toward the front-right of the green. If you hit it 10 feet left of the hole, it's going to run off the green to the left. It's definitely one of the most difficult greens on the course. You probably have seven or eight yards that you have to hit your iron shot into to get your ball to stay up on the left side."
No. 8: 570 yards, par-5
Brandt Snedeker says: "There’s a big bunker on the right side that guys are trying to avoid. An ideal shot shape is a cut off the tee but being a par-5 guys try to take it over that bunker and draw it to get a little extra distance. If you get lucky, you can get a 5- or 6-iron out of that bunker. If you’re up against the lip, you’re going to have to hit wedge out. It’s a blind second shot. You can’t really see the green. There’s some trees up on the left that you are trying to hook it around. The green is diabolical. There’s a big ridge going right through the middle of the green, dissecting it into a front half and back half. The front pin has kind of a bowl effect so guys can hit it close. The back-right pin is tough to get close to. It’s a tough two-putt just about anywhere on that green. It’s a big risk-reward par-5 because if you do overturn your second shot, you’re in trouble. If you miss it left, it’s impossible; it’s probably a 1-out-of-10 you’ll get it up-and-down. It’s all fairway between No. 8 and the ninth tee, so you have plenty of room to bail out right."
No. 9: 460 yards, par-4
Zach Johnson (2007 Masters champion) says: “It’s a tee shot that looks fairly daunting. You can’t see where your ball ends up, but there’s a tree out in the distance that is your target. It calls for a draw because the fairway goes right-to-left, but you can still play a power-fade because it does open up on the right side. The other thing that’s hard about it is that when you get back in that little hollow back in the tee box, you don’t really feel the wind, so whatever you feel on 8, you have to remember it for 9. The second shot is on a severe downhill lie hitting severely uphill, so it’s one that with a three-tiered green, a false front, hitting it to the middle of the green is pretty good. The front pins are the hardest on that hole because it’s hard to keep it on that level. Missing it right on that hole on the second shot isn’t ideal, but isn’t that bad because you’re kind of chipping back uphill. It’s usually a driver and mid-iron for me.”
No. 10: 495 yards, par-4
Hunter Mahan says: "Obviously a downhill par 4. It has a lot of movement right-to-left in the fairway, so you have to hit a draw off the tee. It’s hard to overhook the tee shot. If you miss all the trees, and it just goes around them, you’re just going to be hitting off a flatter lie. You can hook it 30-40 yards if you want. It’s the least amount of slope on the left side (of the fairway) and it gives you a better angle into the hole. You can hit anything from a 2-iron to a driver off the tee, depending on how you feel. I’m going to hit driver; I want to get as far down as I can. I still want a short-iron, because hitting a long-iron to that green is no fun. You’re going to be hitting your approach off a downhill slope, and maybe even right-to-left. The green is guarded by a bunker on the right and if you miss the green on the left, it’s going to roll down the hill some 15-20 yards (away from the green). The back-left hole location on Sunday is tough because the putt looks uphill, and it looks like you can be aggressive, but it’s actually flowing toward 11 and 12, so it’s faster than it looks and has a lot of break. The green breaks back-to-front, but a lot of right-to-left, too."
No. 11: 505 yards, par-4
Stewart Cink says: “First of all, you deal with the fear. That’s how you start. It’s just so demanding. The fairway is so narrow that you’re just aiming for the center; even if you miss the fairway in the rough, you’re just hoping you stay between the trees. If you hit the fairway, then you have really a scary second shot. They have changed the hole slightly over the years. Everyone knows about the trees up the right side that have cut the fairway in half, but what a lot of people don’t realize is how much they’ve lowered right of the green, so if you miss to the right, you no longer have a simple pitch shot. The Larry Mize shot was just a bump-and-run that traveled across level ground and got on the green and went in the hole. Now you’re about 3-4 feet below the green there, so you have that shot uphill to a green that slopes toward the lake. It’s a very scary short-game shot from the right side of the green. You know you can’t miss right, so then the pond becomes more in play. It’s a genius move, as most of their changes are.
“If you hit the fairway, which is narrow, you have a middle- or long-iron to a real demanding green with a lot of severe punishment for missing. You’re hitting from a pretty level lie, but the shot is downhill. The shot is about 8-10 yards downhill. That’s what it plays. (You can aim at) a couple of trees behind the green that look like they come out of the bunker, and when you’re hitting your approach shot you just have to decide how bold you want to be. You usually pick one of those trees, and it is like red light, yellow light, green light. You rarely ever go for a flag unless it’s on the right side and then you still have to be really disciplined. The green itself is kind of non-descript for Augusta National. It’s basically large and has one general slope, back right to front left.”
No. 12: 155 yards, par-3
Jim Furyk says: "Most people don’t appreciate how skinny that green is. I think it’s only 9 yards deep over the bunker, and most guys, if the pin is right, are aiming over that bunker. Well, you’re hitting to an area that is only 9 yards deep. It’s easy to knock it over the green. Short is wet. It’s probably going to be a 5 at least. You’ll see a lot of guys hedge long. When the wind is down(wind) off that tee box, you’ll notice it gets caught in those trees and the flag actually points back at you.
"There’s a lot of times where the 11th green shows a flag with downwind, and the 12th flag shows the wind at you. Of course, more often than not, you can’t trust that it’s downwind, so you play for no wind and you rip one over the green, and that’s a tough 3. For a short par 3, it’s probably the best and toughest short par-3 in golf. You have about 16 yards (of depth) on the left side to hit, so I think a lot of guys will aim there, in the center-left, but that’s no bargain to a back-right pin. There’s not a lot of safe. It’s an easy 4 from the bunkers. I’ve hit a lot of shots that I thought I hit well that ended up just over the green and you’re left scratching your head. It’s just tough to judge."
No. 13: 510 yards, par-5
Keegan Bradley says: “It’s driver or 3-wood off the tee. You have to turn it pretty good off the tee, probably 15 yards. Then it’s a long-iron in or a lay-up. I don’t know how to explain the slant, but the ball is very much above your feet. It’s a very severe sidehill lie, a really tough shot. The green is severe; you can’t go long. There’s a shelf in the back-left of the green. There’s no easy up-and-downs around that green. Just short of the creek is probably the easiest spot to get up-and-down from.”
No. 14: 440 yards, par-4
Stewart Cink says: “I love 14. It’s kind of a copy of the 14th at St. Andrews, with the green, because it has a huge slope up in the front and then it all pitches away. The first half of the top shelf goes dead away from you, then the second half goes mostly left-to-right. Off the tee, there’s only one thing you’re thinking: you have to turn it right to left. The shorter hitters can hit a straight ball, but if you’re in the longer half of the field, you have to turn your ball right to left with a driver or a 3-wood. The fairway slopes left-to-right, so that further complicates the second shot because you know you have to keep it left of the hole because of the slope of the green, but the ground is encouraging your ball to go right, and you have an uphill second shot, so you have a lot of factors working against hitting it left. So many times you hit what you think is a good shot, and you see it land 5 feet right of your target, and you can see it disappear and it comes out way right, 40-50 feet right.
“More often than not on 14 green, you end up with either a real simple birdie putt, pretty close, or a super hard two-putt. The sections where the holes are located are pretty small and the rest of the green is pretty severe, so if you just miss that section, it usually travels on down the green a long way, and you have a lot of putts that go up a significant hill to a little plateau. The first 20 yards of the green are not usable, are a false front.”
No. 15: 530 yards, par-5
Charl Schwartzel (2011 Masters champion) says: “Ideally, if you can keep the ball up the right side, the fairway slopes a little right-to-left. From the tee box, it looks like a wide fairway, but you have trees out about 330 yards that cut into the middle of the fairway from the left side. It normally leaves you around 220 to 230 yards to a really narrow green. There’s not a really good place to miss it. Long leaves you a really tough chip back toward the water, and short is in the water. Most guys go for it, though, because you have about 15-20 yards of downhill elevation, so it leaves you with a 4-iron or hybrid. At Augusta, the par-5s are the key, so you’re really trying to hit a good shot in there and give yourself a chance for eagle or birdie.
The lie (on the second shot) is not that much downhill because the fairway only starts going downhill at about 400 yards. You have to take that into account on the lay-up. (The third shot) always seems to play a little farther than what you think it should. It’s one of those holes I feel it’s key to lay up to a yardage you are comfortable to. If you have a yardage that is in between clubs, you’re going to have a tough time hitting the green.”
No. 16: 170 yards, par-3
Luke Donald says: “No. 16 is really all about the green. It’s a medium-length par 3. Certain holes, you can attack, certain ones you can’t. The ones on the top, the back-right and middle-right, are probably the toughest ones to get to. It’s such a small target. I think club selection is important. The wind tends to swirl a little bit around there. Those top pins, if you’re between clubs, you usually take less club and hit it hard.
“They’ve made the back-right a touch bigger in the past few years, but it is still pretty small. From the tee, it doesn’t look like much. You can’t miss it long in that bunker. It’s almost an automatic bogey. Front pins, you want to use the (right-to-left) slope. The Sunday, back-left pin, you’re trying to land it a little right of the hole and use the slope to bring it down there. You have about 20-25 feet right of the Sunday pin that you can use (to funnel the ball toward the hole). It’s a good pin because the water is a little bit in play, and that bunker is in play, but most people are trying to hit it a little right of the pin and use the slope. You can have anywhere from 9-iron to 5- or 6-iron, if it’s into the wind to the back pin and the tee is back, it can play 190 yards.”
No. 17: 440 yards, par-4
Kevin Streelman says: “With the loss of the Eisenhower tree, it will be a much more open tee shot, but you’re still not off the hook going into that green. You have three or four really distinct levels. That top right pin … and back left, it’s hard to get close to those pins on the second shot. You end up having 25-footers where you’re trying to lag it up there for par. If you need to make a birdie coming down the stretch, it’s a good opportunity, but you have to hit two really strong golf shots to give yourself a good look.
“The Eisenhower Tree was right about where my ball started to come down. It’s still not a wide-open tee shot by any means. It’s probably about 25 yards wide, so it’s not U.S. Open-type, but if you miss it right or left, you’re going to have to shape your shot pretty drastically. The back-left hole, it really runs away, and it’s hard to keep it on the green if you land it near that pin. It tends to run back toward that chipping area. The right pins are just nasty. The back-right one, you can’t go over; there’s a huge hill back there. It’s an impossible up-and-down from beyond the green. The middle-right pin, you can hit it to the middle of the green, but it’s an extremely fast putt going toward Rae’s Creek. That short bunker isn’t a terrible place to be. Over is no good.”
No. 18: 465 yards, par-4
Zach Johnson (2007 Masters champion) says: “It’s a tough hole. It’s very much a chute. You have more fairway on the right than it looks. It calls for a power fade off the bunker out there. Some guys can get to that bunker downwind. I can’t. The tee shot is slightly uphill. The second shot is 6-7 percent uphill, so if you have 200 yards, it plays 10-15 yards longer. The green looks really, really small to the eye from the fairway. It’s multi-tiered with a false front. Middle of the green, especially with a mid-iron, is ideal. The ball will roll back if the pin is up front. It’s hard to get up-and-down long. On average, it’s usually a 5- or 6-iron. Anywhere from 180 to 215. If the pin is on the right side of the green, being left is never bad, and vice versa. If you short-side yourself, you’re making a bogey unless you make a long putt. The front-left pin on Sunday, you don’t want to be left.”
Photo Credits (in order of appearance): Streeter Lecka; Mike Ehrmann; Harry How; Andrew Redington; David Cannon; Harry How; Streeter Lecka; Harry How; Andrew Redington; David Cannon (4); Andrew Redington; Harry How; David Cannon; Jamie Squire; David Cannon (Getty Images)