Trouble Spots At Augusta
March 28, 2015
Right of the green on No 1
The first hole has gotten steadily longer over the years -- 445 now, compared to 400 in 1986 -- and the landing area off the tee is into the face of a steep hill. That can leave a difficult approach to a small green. Miss to the right and it's an extremely tough chip onto a slope that runs away -- especially when the pin is right. It usually requires a bump into the hill -- and a silent prayer.
Tee shot on No. 4
The 240-yard fourth puts players in trouble before they even start. Many players call this shot the hardest one on the course -- either a long iron or hybrid in swirling wind to a tiny effective landing area. The Sunday pin is usually in front, on a narrow neck between two deep bunkers. It says something when a par-3 plays among the two or three hardest holes on the course year in and year out.
Tee shot on No. 7
The seventh doesn't look like much on the card at 340 yards, but it's probably the most awkward hole on the course. The tiny green requires a very short iron approach, which puts driver or 3-wood into a player's hand when he'd prefer to hit hybrid. Miss the narrow fairway and lose the benefit of spin and the target gets really small. There were 47 more bogies here than birdies last year -- on a hole 75 percent of players planned to hit flip wedge into.
Above the hole on No. 9
The ninth isn't particularly hard overall -- unless you get a little too aggressive on the approach shot and the ball stays above the hole. The green here is the steepest on the course from back to front, and a missed putt could run 50 yards down the slope to the crosswalk. Play conservatively with your short iron to stay below the hole and you can spin it back to that same spot.
The left side of the hole on No. 10
Ask Rory McIlroy how he feels about the 10th hole -- a long par-4 that requires a hard hook off the tee, but penalizes you harshly if you go too far left. McIlroy's tee shot hit a tree and kicked into the woods on the left (leading to a triple bogey), but the left edge of the fairway is almost the same kind of jail. The dogleg left blocks any kind of reasonable approach from that side, and usually requires a parabolic chip or bunker shot from right of the green to a steeply pitched target.
Long and left in the bunker on No. 13
Unlike most tour venues, Augusta National's reachable par-5s aren't any easier when played conservatively. The front right pin on 13 forces players going for it in two to challenge the water or bail out right -- into a bunker where the shot is a scary downhiller to a pin that looks like it's floating in the creek.
Just short of the hazard on No. 15
Miss the fairway on this reachable par-5 and it's usually a lay-up, but to where? Even the most traditional spot, 90 yards away in the left side of the fairway, leaves a tricky pitch to a tiny target. Get too close to the creek and it's a half wedge to a fast, firm front pin location. Mistakes here an on 13 can often be round killers because so many other players in the field are making birdie -- or eagle.
Short right (or left) on No. 17
The slopes on the 17th green make any chip from short right or short left to a front pin an all-or-nothing proposition. Hit the flag and you might leave it five feet. Otherwise, it's an automatic sidehill 15-footer. The water on 13 and 15 is splashier, but the 17th is where many Sunday charges have gone to die.
From the fairway bunker on No. 18
The 18th's green is one of the most famous on the course. The Sunday pin is usually in a valley that funnels good shots close -- and makes shots that end up on the wrong level really difficult. A shot from the fairway bunker will be lengthy and hard to control distance.