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Masters 2023: Photo shows dramatic makeover to Augusta National Par 3 Course complete

February 14, 2023
The Masters - Preview Day 3

David Cannon

It’s Valentine’s Day, which means one thing: The Masters is only 50 days away. What better way to fill your heart from now until then with some seductive photos from Augusta National’s renovation to its beloved Par 3 Course.

Last fall word spread that the Par 3 Course was in line for serious changes, and photos emerged in the spring that those changes were no joke. On Tuesday the Twitter account Eureka Earth posted an aerial picture of the nearly-completed makeover to the short course, and the transformation is dramatic.

The aerial shows sweeping revisions to the first five holes of the nine-hole course, with a number of greens now hugging water. This is in line with plans filed to Augusta’s Planning and Development Department, which called for “redevelopment of existing golf course related to five golf holes and supporting recreational facilities.” It is believed at least two new cabins have also been built.

The Par 3 Course was built in 1958, but its creation began three decades before. The club's co-founder Cliff Roberts told the Olmsted Brothers, the firm charged with Augusta National's landscaping, that an "approach and putt" course should be constructed alongside the main layout, which was still two years away from opening. Designs were drawn up by Alister MacKenzie, who initially turned in plans for a 500-yard course but ultimately presented a blueprint for an 18-hole track sprawling over 2,400 yards. MacKenzie wanted to utilize each green and tee box twice, with the holes skirting a small pond. However, Augusta National's other club founder, Bobby Jones, did not reciprocate the excitement shared by Roberts and MacKenzie—Jones felt the then-cash-strapped club had other projects on the priority list—putting the kibosh on the plans.

The idea was revived 25 years later, this time under the direction of architect George W. Cobb, one that met Jones' liking. "I agree completely that the construction of this golf course will be an important contribution to the beauty of the place," Jones wrote to Roberts. "The par three would give us a pretty complete golfing layout." Cobb's design mirrored some of MacKenzie’s elements, but the small pond—now named DeSoto Springs Pond, for the Spanish explorer believed to have traveled through the property in the 16th century—had been enlarged, forcing Cobb to tinker with the plans. With a nudge from Roberts, Cobb made sure the pond was very much in play, creating a more alluring backdrop to the course. (In 1987, the routing was slightly reconfigured, with two additional holes over Ike’s Pond installed.)

While Roberts' plan faced initial pushback from membership, the course opened in the fall of '58 to rave reviews. The course was such a hit that it was incorporated into the Masters Tournament, with the inaugural Par 3 Contest taking place in 1960, won by Sam Sneed. Last year’s contest was won by both Mackenzie Hughes and Mike Weir.