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The Masters Course Preview: Finishing up the front 9

Herald Sun

theScore’s hole by hole preview of Augusta National Golf Club, site of the Masters, continues today with course designer Jeff Mingay's thoughts on holes seven through nine.

No. 7: Pampas

Historical average: 4.15

Historical rank: T11

Mingay’s take: "Over the past decade and a bit, the 7th has been transformed from a relatively short par 4 into a monster hole. The tee's been pushed back close to 100 yards since the course was originally designed, and the fairway's been significantly narrowed more recently by newly planted trees, right and left. The original hole, designed by Jones and MacKenzie was a wide, bunker-less affair, loosely inspired by the 18th hole at St. Andrews … fit with a 'Valley of Sin-like' depression guarding the left front of the putting surface. The original hole's gone. Today, the 7th is one of the longer holes at Augusta, featuring the tightest tee shot on the course. The original green was replaced shortly after the course originally opened for play, during the late 1930s, by architect Perry Maxwell. It's located high on a hill and surrounded by bunkers. At just 45 feet deep, it's the shallowest green on the course too. The narrowness of the fairway causes some players to consider hitting less club off the tee, to be more accurate. But leaving a longer club into this green then becomes the problem. Bobby Jones was a great admirer of the expansiveness and strategies at St. Andrews, but he liked the contrast the 7th hole provides to most of the rest of the course at Augusta. Jones felt the narrow fairway at the 7th adds impact because it suddenly confronts the player when he has become accustomed to the broad expanses of the preceding holes. Despite Mr. Jones' thoughts, this hole's received the most criticism of any hole at Augusta, as it's been narrowed and lengthened in recent years."

No. 8: Yellow Jasmine

Historical average: 4.84

Historical rank:15

Mingay’s take: "About decade ago, a new tee was installed near the 17th green, stretching the 8th to 570 yards. The hole plays straight uphill, too … there's more than 60 feet of elevation change between the tee and green here. The fairway is so slope-y you'll often see players fall back after hitting their second shots. Like the 2nd, 10th and 18th, the 8th reminds you how hilly Augusta is … extremely. In fact, it has to be the hilliest of all of the world's greatest courses. You can't see the long skinny green from down in the drive zone at the 8th, but there's a somewhat bizarre looking set mounds on its left flank that provide good indication of which line to take toward the green. The design of this incredibly distinctive green was conceived by Jones and MacKenzie and it's one of the most interesting features at Augusta. Which begs as to why it was completely redesigned in 1956, including the removal of the aforementioned mounds, in an attempt to improve spectator viewing. This was soon realized to be a terrible mistake, and the original design was restored by Byron Nelson and architect Joe Finger in 1979. The 8th green is 135 feet deep but only about 30 feet wide in the front. It's angled toward the right side, too. With the large mounds left, the strategy at this hole is to stay right, which is why there's also a large bunker off the tee on that side of the hole that requires a 320-yard carry from the Masters tee. Skirting the left side of this bunker is ideal to leave the best angle toward the green. Get too far left and those odd mounds complicate any chance of reaching the green in two … which is amazing in itself, that was see a 570-yard hole that plays up the side of what appears to be a small mountain reached with two shots during the Masters these days. Severely uphill holes are usually poor, but Augusta's 8th is actually a very strategically interesting and beautiful hole, featuring one of the great green complexes in golf."

No. 9: Carolina Cherry

Historical average: 4.15

Historical rank: T11

Mingay’s take: "Today's 9th was originally designed as the finishing hole at Augusta before the nines were reversed in 1934 … mainly because the greens at the first few holes on today's back nine were more susceptible to early morning frost, preventing golf from getting started on time. The tee shot here plays down the same, steep hill that the adjacent 8th hole ascends. It's 53 feet down to the fairway from the tee then another 30 feet back uphill, to a very steeply pitched green separated into three distant tiers. Similar to the 8th there's a bit of 'outside strategy' to the tee shot at nine. The green is angled to the right side of the hole and two bunkers guard its left side. So, driving long down the right side of this hole leaves the best angle for the approach. In the early days, hitting in that direction was free of any threats. In recent years, rough and trees have been added down the right side to at least give players something to think about when trying to play the tee shot into the preferred position. If you don't get the tee shot down into the flat, at the bottom of the hill, the approach to the 9th green is particularly difficult … played uphill from a downhill lie to a green that will reject anything short a ridiculous distance back down the fairway. The approach has to be very precise, too, relative to the day's hole location, otherwise you're left with very challenging putting on this slope-y green. Ben Crenshaw says, "The wonderful thing about Augusta National is that so many shots play uphill or downhill. The yardage book is helpful, but it's only the starting point in the process of picking a club. It involves the wind, the temperature and how firm and quick the greens are. So many factor into the decision-making process.”

We’ll look at holes ten through twelve Thursday. Please see below for previous holes.

The Masters Course Preview: Finishing up the front 9
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