Masters Tournament: at the crossroads

AUGUSTA | As professional golfers gain power and distance, one wonders what the future holds for the prestigious Augusta National course, which is 7,475 yards long. According to its president, Fred S. Ridley, the club is at “a crossroads”. The time for decisions has come.

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And yet, with all its little mysteries, if there is one place that can brilliantly defend itself from modern golf, it is this gem on Washington Road. But watching Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Matt Wolff and company aggressively beat the little white ball traveling over 350 yards, the National loses its defenses. A situation obviously giving rise to reflection.

Golf governing bodies, the Royal and Ancient (R&A) and the American Golf Association (USGA) continue to study this “problem” that the quest for distance has become.

Even the longest routes struggle to defend themselves. The latest victim: Winged Foot. At the American Open in September, champion DeChambeau sacrificed precision by deploying his powerful bazooka. Even though he spent the week in the tall grass, he was the only one to break the
normal after 72 holes.

His performance has certainly not gone unnoticed. We shouted genius when talking about science and the amount of work invested in this quest for distance.

The few powerful golfers averaging over 300 yards just a few years ago are now joined by the herd. A 300-yard strike has become the norm. In 2020, 75 golfers averaged above this mark.

Not under the carpet

In this November edition, the Augusta National will at least be able to defend itself due to the softer conditions and the predominant type of turf, Bermuda shorts, which catch balls rather than let them roll. The soggy conditions following the heavy rains at the start of the week will also help.

The fact remains that the problem is still present.

“I was reluctant to make any major changes to the course regarding the distance. Taking this avenue creates unintended consequences, Ridley said. The design and perspective of the holes change as the distance is added. I have always wanted to maintain the philosophy of our architects, Mackenzie and Jones. ”

“But we are at a crossroads on this subject,” he continued, aware of the reality of 2020 and hoping for concrete solutions as a conclusion to the studies in progress.

Nonetheless, Ridley has several cards in his game. The ANGC recently bought a piece of land from Augusta Country Club behind the tee on the 13th hole, that short par 5, 510 yards. This challenge is no longer up to the task. He is very aware of it. However, the problem is greater. If he touches the National, who have already added dozens of precious yards over the years, he also touches a majority of courses on the globe.

See bigger

“When it comes to the course, we have options and we will take the necessary actions to make the changes relevant. Not all terrains have the same options and can afford big changes. It’s not just about making the game harder and focusing on distance. It’s a question of balance. “

Ridley is adamant, however. In five months, at the Masters in April, the course will not have changed. He cannot advance on future plans.

Leonardo da Vinci did not adapt The Mona Lisa so that it crosses time. The soul of Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral has also defied the centuries.

Allister Mackenzie and Bobby Jones Jr’s masterpiece in Augusta should also withstand the onslaught of powerful golfers without losing its soul.

Augusta National Golf Club


Illustration courtesy, Graphic News

  • 7475 yards
  • Nine to go | 3765 vg
  • Nine back | 3710 vg
  • Normal 72


  • Through : 4
  • Yards: 445
  • 2018: 3e

Long tee shot essential for an approach to the flag with as short an iron as possible. The small platters on the very wavy green narrow the lens.


  • Through : 5
  • Yards: 575
  • 2018: 15e

Possible long bomb from the mound depending on the wind direction. Descending aisle. Green tilted forward and right. Oosthuizen successfully completed an albatross there in 2012.


  • Through : 4
  • Yards: 350
  • 2018: 14e

Recent strategy to fly over fairway pits to the left, a tee shot over 280 yards leaving a short approach of less than 80 yards.


  • Through : 3
  • Yards: 240
  • 2018: 6e

Use of iron 3 and fairway wood in abundance according to the direction of the wind. With the flag at the front, watch out for the two pits. Too long a stroke leaves a delicate roll.


  • Through : 4
  • Yards: 495
  • 2018: 6e

The set back 40 yards brings a new challenge. Playing short of the fairway pits leaves a blind approach towards the leaning green forward.


  • Through : 3
  • Yards: 180
  • 2018: 8e

With the raised tee, you have to cut 8 to 10 yards over the distance. 6 to 9 irons are used. The flag at the front leaves no margin for error on a green in plateaus.


  • Through : 4
  • Yards: 450
  • 2018: 4e

Better to strike in the left center of the narrow alley for a second shot with the feet level. The three pits protecting the green are intimidating.


  • Through : 5
  • Yards: 570
  • 2018: 16e

A tee shot towards the pit to the right of the fairway allows a better angle of attack to the green which is protected by several mounds. Important strategy.


  • Through : 4
  • Yards: 460
  • 2018: 7e

The strategy to adopt depends on the wind. A long 300 yard tee shot rolls down the slope of the fairway, leaving a second 100 yard stroke.


  • Through : 4
  • Yards: 495
  • 2018: 11e

A tee shot as intimidating as it is important. A right-to-left trajectory is preferable. A second missed shot from both sides of the green leaves no chance.


  • Through : 4
  • Yards: 505
  • 2018: 1er

Beginning of the Amen Corner. Recommended accuracy of the mound in a narrow corridor. Depending on the wind, a 4 iron or an 8 iron is used. Green tilted towards the pond to the left.


  • Through : 3
  • Yards: 155
  • 2018: 9e

Where everything fell apart for Jordan Spieth in 2016, like several others in history. The swirling wind foils even the most crafty past Rae’s Creek.


  • Through : 5
  • Yards: 510
  • 2018: 18e

Accessible in two shots after a perfect start with a right-to-left trajectory. 1600 azaleas line the 510 yards to the green protected by the tributary of Rae’s Creek.


  • Through : 4
  • Yards: 440
  • 2018: 12e

Driveway sloping to the right. Broad very wavy green appearing narrower. Avoid the 3 rolls when the wrong side of the slopes is a miracle. Primordial touch.


  • Through : 5
  • Yards: 530
  • 2018: 17e

Green accessible with a short iron, but be careful, very narrow and tilted towards the water at the front. Too long a shot requires a very delicate approach. A real challenge.


  • Through : 3
  • Yards: 170
  • 2018: 13e

The site of the spectacular cutaway approach which Tiger Woods succeeded in 2005. 20 holes in one shot in history, 9 of which in 10 years.


  • Through : 4
  • Yards: 440
  • 2018: 5e

Since the disappearance in 2014 of the silver pine “Eisenhower” which guarded the left of the fairway, golfers are more aggressive from the tee. Nothing is guaranteed depending on the position of the flag.


  • Through : 4
  • Yards: 465
  • 2018: 10e

Angled hole to the right with an ascending driveway leading to a green with plateaus. Six golfers registered a birdie for the victory in history.

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