The Local Knowlege

Courses & Travel

How different is Augusta National from the members' tees?

By Alex Myers

We know how Augusta National plays for the pros at the Masters, but how does it play for its members? A look at the scorecard reveals some interesting facts about one of the most famous courses in the world.

Related: Augusta National's unwritten rules

Golf.com's Eamon Lynch was one of the fortunate winners of this year's media lottery and had the opportunity to play the day after Bubba Watson slipped on a green jacket for the second time. He tweeted this photo of the current scorecard:

blog-augusta-national-scorecard-0423.jpg

First off, just look at the yardage. In an age where courses are being stretched out -- and certainly Augusta National has done the same for the pros -- it's neat that Augusta's members' tees have remained a very playable 6,365 yards. Of course, the greens still provide just a bit of a challenge.

Related: Photos from one editor's round at Augusta National

But the handicap ratings are where we want to focus. For the members, the four par 5s play as the toughest four holes on the course. While it's not unusual for par 5s to be rated tough (there are more opportunities for an average golfer to hit a bad shot), this is certainly a huge difference than how these holes play for the pros. Even with Nos. 13 and 15 not yielding as many eagles as usual at this year's tournament, the four par 5s were easily the four easiest holes. No. 2 is the No. 1 handicap hole, but it played the second-easiest during the Masters.

Meanwhile, members rarely give strokes on Augusta National's four par 3s. This is also fairly standard, but those holes were no pushover during competition. No. 16 played as the easiest non-par 5, but No. 6 played as the 10th most difficult hole and Nos. 12 (4th toughest) and 4 (2nd toughest) gave the players fits. The 70-yard difference in the members' tee to the Masters tee on No. 4 might have something to do with pros making almost 10 times as many over-par scores than birdies for the four days.

What about the par 4s? No. 11 was the hardest for the pros, which shouldn't be any surprise. The 505-hole averaged nearly a half stroke over par during the tournament, but for the members, it's just the No. 8 handicap hole. No. 1 (9 handicap) also plays considerably tougher in the tournament (3rd toughest), while No. 9 plays much easier (12th toughest during the Masters, but the No. 7 handicap hole).

Related: The defining shots of the 2014 Masters

So, what's the overall slope and rating of the course? Augusta National doesn't have official USGA ratings, but uses its own system established by co-founder Clifford Roberts instead (of course). However, that didn't stop Dean Knuth, the developer of the USGA's slope and rating system, from investigating. He determined before the 2010 Masters that from the tips, Augusta National had a course rating of 78.1 and a slope of 137.

That doesn't give us a rating or slope from the members tees, but does it really matter? We'll offer an unofficial rating of the greens: they're hard. You don't have to be a member to know that.

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July 28, 2014

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