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 thirteen through fifteen. After the difficult stretch of ten through twelve, players need to capitalize on two relatively easy par-5’s.
No. 13: Azalea
Historical average: 4.79
Historical rank: 17
Mingay’s take: "Here's another reason Augusta National is so good: golf’s most famous par 3 is followed by what's long been considered the world's best par 5. The 13th is another gorgeous hole, bending left around a corner guarded the length of the fairway by a tributary of Rae's Creek, which then swings right in front of the green. It was only a few years ago that the 13th was stretched to over 500 yards, when Augusta National Golf Club purchased a piece of land from neighbouring Augusta Country Club. Even as a sub 500-yard hole, the 13th was considered by many as golf's best par 5. There are four 'decorative' bunkers cut into the hillside behind and left of the green, but sand doesn't factor into the genius of this hole. The tee shot is very important. Playing left, close to the creek, leaves a relatively flat lie and shorter distance for the next shot … but that's a frightening line to take off the tee. Playing safer out to the right lengthens the hole and leaves a severe sidehill lie, with the ball way above a right-handed golfer's feet. This is particularly annoying because the angle and slope of the green prefers a cut shot, played from a hook lie. Bobby Jones described the second shot here as a 'momentous decision of whether or not to try for it … yet the reward of successful, bold play is enticing'. Today, the hole's short enough that I presume most of the world's best golfers probably consider laying up humiliating. This further complicates that momentous decision Mr. Jones referred to, these days. The 13th green is another where the slope and contour can work for or against players. It's really fun to watch golfers use this green to advantage, working shots from the left side all the way over and down to front right hole locations on Sunday of the Masters. Another smart design decision in relatively recent times was to lower the level of the water in the creek fronting the green to restore the possibility of recovery from this hazard. There's nothing more exciting than a great recovery shot and there might be more highlights of great recovery play from the Masters over the years than any other tournament in golf."
No. 14: Chinese Fir
Historical average: 4.18
Historical rank: 8
Mingay’s take: “The world’s best par 3 and par 5 holes, at Amen Corner, are followed by what might be the best bunker-less hole in the world ... Augusta’s 14th, which features one of the most remarkable greens ever designed. It’s another stunning sight at Augusta, to see this green in person for the first time. At 120 feet deep and about the same width, the 14th green is huge ... some 14,000 square feet total, with about 10 feet of elevation change between the low front and high back sections. Some beautiful, massive contours separate those distinct sections of the green, too. There’s not another like it, anywhere. The front of the green isn’t really green though, it’s more like a ‘Valley of Sin-type’ feature that mimics that famous depression in front of the home green at St. Andrews mown at the same height as the putting surface. You never see a pin on the low front of the green during the Masters. Thankfully there are enough great ones up top ... particularly at back left and short right, just up on the high side. These are tough to get near. But there are also some little basin-type areas in the back middle of the green that collect balls. A few days you're likely to see some very entertaining shots land well away from the hole at fourteen that hit just the right spot, bounce and roll, and end up inches from the hole.”
No. 15: Fire Thorn
Historical average: 4.78
Historical rank: 18
Mingay’s take: “The 15th is historically one of the easiest holes at Augusta relative to par, but it’s also been one of the most interesting during the Masters ... particularly on Sunday when golfers in contention are thinking ‘eagle’ as they head to the 15th tee. Bobby Jones believed that all par 5s should be potentially reachable with two good shots ... more like par-four-and-a-half holes than genuine three-shot par 5s. The fifteenth has always been reachable with a good drive. Ben Crenshaw says, ‘There are no fiery contours to the hole. The green kind of sits there saying, come get me.’ Nowadays, many Masters contestants go for the green with an iron after a good tee shot. Alister MacKenzie rarely, if ever, used trees as an integral part of his golf course designs. But, what’s perhaps most interesting about the 15th hole these days, is a small ‘forest’ of pine trees that’s grown up over the years on the left side of the fairway between the tee shot ‘landing zone’ and the green. These trees are about 360 yards off the Masters tee, so essentially ‘between shots’. Players who end up on the left side off the tee are forced to play a big, high, sweeping shot around these trees, if trying to reach the green in two. So, the ideal is to drive right. If you’re forced to lay-up, the third shot can be very tricky, played from a severe downhill lie over the pond fronting this relatively shallow green ... particularly on the left side where it’s only about 50 feet deep. There’s also a steep fall off the back of the green, mown at fairway height, to worry about. Getting up and down from behind this green is tough, and the slope there leads down to the pond fronting the par 3 16th hole. A par at fifteen always feels like a bogey during the Masters.”
We’ll look at holes sixteen through eighteen on Saturday. Please see below for previous holes.