Augusta National Course Guide: A hole-by-hole breakdown of The Masters

Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson during a Masters practice round at Augusta National
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Ricky Dimon

Golf · 1 year ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

The best golfers in the world have descended on the most well-known links in the world: the hallowed grounds of Augusta National. Unlike the other three annual major tournaments, The Masters is the only one that stays in the same place year after year. Players like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson who have been around for multiple decades know this course like the palm of their hands. Even golf fans know it well, because they get to see it—either in person or on television—once per year. The other most famous clubs in the world like St. Andrews, Pebble Beach, and Pinehurst only get to host majors once every five or 10 years.

But in case you aren’t familiar with Augusta National or simply need a refresher, let’s take a look at what the course will have to offer during the third and final major of 2020.

Eyewitness account

I have been very fortunate to be among the fans who have seen it in person (the “patrons,” of course), attending not every year but at least more often than not dating back to 1998—when Mark O’Meara donned the green jacket following a winning birdie putt on 18. What always strikes me the most about Augusta National is the undulations—especially on the greens. Going through it hole by hole in my head, 16 of the 18 greens are either two-tiered or at least violently sloping in one direction. Literally, the only two that are flat (and even then “flat” is simply a relative term compared to the precipitous nature of the other 16) are 11 and 12. Of course, 11 and 12 are already terribly tough propositions even without befuddling greens.

Anyway, the bottom line is that iron play at Augusta National has to be incredibly precise in order to get balls close to the hole..and to stay close to the hole. Anything even a few feet off could roll in any number of awful directions depending on pin placements. For example, on 3 and 9 anything short will roll many yards back into the fairway. On 15 anything short often rolls into Rae’s Creek. The story is similar on 13, although if you land it on the green there it should hold. On 10 anything left of the green is down the slope and dead.

For obvious reasons, neither I nor anyone else will be in attendance this time around. That is going to make for a most unusual Masters. Gone are the famous Sunday roars that all but tell patrons and fans alike what is happening around the course in the absence of leaderboards (there are some leaderboards—still run by hand as opposed to electronically—but not many). Also gone are the sometimes fortuitous bounces of wayward tee shots off patrons. That could be more of a factor in Augusta than in other places because there is no real rough to speak of. At the U.S. Open, by comparison, a wayward drive would land in the think stuff and bury. At an Augusta National with no patrons to yell “fore” at, errant tee balls could roll forever in the wrong direction. I can see that especially being a problem on the right side of 5 (already the hardest hole on the course), both sides of 7, the right side of 10 (where Bubba Watson hit out of the pine straw on his way to a playoff win in 2012), and the right side of 11.

Key holes

Amen Corner (11, 12, and 13) is the most famous stretch in golf. Sure, it’s aesthetically pleasing to the patrons. Much more important, however, is the fact that it is a nightmare for the players. Although 13 is a birdie and even eagle opportunity, it also has bogey—or worse—potential if they decide to go for the green in two and dump it in the creek. Holes 11 and 12 are beyond scary; players will happily take par and get out of there. Especially on 12, much-needed pars are often few and far between on Sundays. Last year, basically everyone in contention other than eventual champion Woods were wet. Jordan Spieth went in the water twice (yes, twice on a par 3) during his 2016 collapse.

Like 13, 15 can also produce anything from a 3 (or a 2 in the case of Gene Sarazen in 1935) to a double-digit number. Third-round leader Francesco Molinari further opened the door for Woods last spring by carding a double-bogey 7 on 15 (he also doubled 12).

For the diehard fans who want to know about every hole, see the layout for all 18 below.

Hole by hole

1 Tea Olive
445 yards, par 4
2019 rank: 7th hardest (4.118)

2 Pink Dogwood
575 yards, par 5
2019 rank: 15th (4.678)

3 Flowering Peach
350 yards, par 4
2019 rank: 14th (3.895)

4 Flowering Crabapple
240 yards, par 3
2019 rank: 5th (3.207)

5 Magnolia
495 yards, par 4
2019 rank: 1st (4.336)

6 Juniper
180 yards, par 3
2019 rank: 12th (3.003)

7 Pampas
450 yards, par 4
2019 rank: 6th (4.128)

8 Yellow Jasmine
570 yards, par 5
2019 rank: 16th (4.628)

9 Carolina Cherry
460 yards, par 4
2019 rank: 11th (4.049)

10 Camelia
495 yards, par 4
2019 rank: 2nd= (4.247)

11 White Dogwood
505 yards, par 4
2019 rank: 2nd= (4.247)

12 Golden Bell
155 yards, par 3
2019 rank: 9th (3.053)

13 Azalea
510 yards, par 5
2019 rank: 18th (4.474)

14 Chinese Fir
440 yards, par 4
2019 rank: 8th (4.079)

15 Fire Thorn
530 yards, par 5
2019 rank: 17th (4.543)

16 Redbud
170 yards, par 3
2019 rank: 13th (2.908)

17 Nandina
440 yards, par 4
2019 rank: 10th (4.049)

18 Holly
465 yards, par 4
2019 rank: 4th (4.224)

Horse for the course

It will be interesting to see how this course plays in November rain (yes, it is going to be wet all week). Without question it will play longer, which is even better news for big bashers like Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, and Rory McIlroy. They will occasionally be hitting wedges and 9-irons into greens when other guys are taking out 5-irons and 6-irons. At the same time, softer greens will be more receptive than harder ones to those 5-irons and 6-irons. Good luck holding hard and fast Augusta greens with long irons. In these conditions, though, long irons won’t be such a death knell.

Yes, DeChambeau is going to have a big advantage with his distance. But I still think ball-striking from the fairway and putting on those ridiculous greens will be what makes the difference. Guys like Spieth (okay, maybe not actually Spieth himself given his current form) and Zach Johnson (champion in 2007) will still have a chance even though they don’t carry their drives 300-plus yards in the air.

Want more picks and predictions for the 2020 Masters? Check out all our expert previews below:

Pickswise is the home of free expert Golf Picks and Predictions. Our outright PGA expert picks go live every Tuesday, so check out our latest golf picks, best bets, and analysis for this week’s PGA tournament now. We will also have our 2020 Masters 3-ball picks and our best golf prop bets for each round of the 2020 Masters.

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