Reporters expecting to hear a “we do not discuss club business” reply from Masters chairman Billy Payne were a bit surprised to learn that changes to the club’s fabled 13th hole appear to be very much on the table.
“As we do every year, and historically forever, we are always looking at options for numerous of our holes," said Payne. "We create plans looking into the future, when we believe that the shot value of certain second shots, principally, has been impacted by how far the ball is now traveling. As a consequence, No. 13 is one of those holes we are studying. “
Payne jokingly called the discussion about the game’s most famous par 5 as the “subject du jour,” and reiterated that no decision has been made “whatsoever.” But he also tipped the club’s hand by saying there “are multiple options where we could increase the difficulty of the hole and restore the shot values, only one of which deals with extending the length.”
That almost sounded like a suggestion that changes to the 520-yard 13th might be made without having to purchase more of neighboring Augusta Country Club’s land, as has been reported by Golfweek. Only Payne and the club’s consulting architect, Tom Fazio, know just what would be non-lengthening solutions.
But Chairman Payne made it sound like the studies are going deep.
“We are in the middle of all of those studies, a lot of arithmetic, lot of design issues,” he said.
When you’re talking about such a beloved hole, we wouldn’t expect anything less.