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Masters: How to conquer Augusta National’s par fives

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To play well at Augusta National and have the opportunity to win the Masters and earn the green jacket (the members actually call it a coat), there are numerous ingredients that go into the winning formula.

One of the most important areas the competitors will have to conquer en route to victory will be the dominance of the four longest holes on the property.

The par fives.

In 1933, Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie created multiple strategic elements that required various shot shapes into these lengthy holes, and the challenges are as varied as the terrain they reside upon. Just like in 1935 with Gene Sarazen’s “shot heard ‘round the world” on the fifteenth hole, these par fives collectively will prove integral to the result of the competition once again. Coincidentally enough, they are also the four easiest holes on the course, as odd as that may sound.

A few important aspects to keep in mind while learning about each of these par fives below; Augusta National is as much of a physical test as it is a mental battle, and the severity of the terrain is something not easily discerned on TV. Case in point, walking the entire course is the equivalent of climbing forty flights of stairs – in both directions. I should know. I played in the 1997 Masters and my legs (and those of my girlfriend, now wife, Kristi) were pretty tired at the end of the week.

Steve Scott played in the 1997 Masters as a 19-year-old amateur.

No. 2 – Pink Dogwood

575 yards

Scoring average: 4.79 

All-time rank: 16th

When thinking of the varied terrain of the property, we must start at the highest par-five tee box on the course at number two (It’s so high in elevation at 318 feet, in fact, it is rumored that Mr. Clifford Roberts’ ashes were buried near there in 1977 at his request, so he forever could watch over his creation from the highest point of the course). As players sweep down to the green at number two, dropping 85 feet in elevation, they face a testy downhill lie for their second shot. Whereas this downhill slope usually produces a low shot that is easily blocked to the right (for a right-hander), the left-to-right topography near the green calls for a high right-to-left shot shape for the approach shot to hold the slope. In navigating the green, a hole location on the left is the most demanding, however lessens in difficulty as it is moved towards the lower part of the green on the right.

No. 8 – Yellow Jasmine

570 yards

Scoring average: 4.83 

All-time rank: 15th

With the number two falling from tee to green like a waterfall, the inverse elevation change on number eight holds true the reverse as the players climb the equivalent of seven stories from tee to green. Assuming the player avoids the gaping fairway bunker off the tee (the closer you are to this bunker, the better the angle is if going for the green), they will still have a long blast of 250-270 yards off an upslope to a green that is blind to the player. This upslope is problematic as it typically causes a player to hang on their back foot and can lead to a two-way miss. If a player is laying up, the right center of the layup zone will be critical as there are overhanging trees and a large chocolate-drop mound bordering the left of the green to impede the player’s view. It’s a green that can be very friendly and funnel the ball towards the easiest hole locations on the back left portion of the green.

No. 13 – Azalea

510 yards

Scoring average: 4.79

All-time rank: 17th

The thirteenth is a hole that founder Bobby Jones once called the most naturally designed golf hole in the world, and the decision to go for the green in two “should be a momentous one.” The tee sits at the lowest point of the course, and the players rise 25 feet up to the green as they challenge the tributary of Rae’s Creek with their tee shot. The second shot is the most difficult that players face because the lie and the shot shape required oppose each other. The severely sloping fairway (one that is similar to a banked race track with the ball above a right-hander’s feet and on a downslope) leads to a low hook but, conversely, the green is most receptive for a high fade. The risk/reward nature of this hole is evident as players that hug the left side off the tee closest to the creek will benefit with a shorter second shot off a flat lie. The multi-terraced green is no bargain either; a downhill putt on thirteen just might be the fastest putt on the course.  Five-time Masters champ Tiger Woods putted a ball into the water in 2005.

No. 15 – Firethorn

530 yards

Scoring average: 4.78

Difficulty ranking: 18th

The final par five test the players will face finds them striking their tee shot to a fairway that sits some 15 feet above the teeing ground, then from the fairway falling nearly 20 feet back downhill to a green fronted by a pond that has a magnetic presence for any mishit ball a little short or even a well-struck shot having excessive spin. Players must hit their tee shot down the right half of the slightly right-to-left sloping fairway.  From the teeing ground, it looks like a wide fairway, but for the longer hitters you have Loblolly Pines out about 330 yards that cut into the middle of the fairway from the left side, which narrows the corridor to play a second shot attempting to reach the green in two. The aforementioned downhill second shot plays some fifteen yards shorter which tempts the player of reaching in two; however, the green is very shallow, and laying up might even provide more of a difficult task than going for it given the downhill lie with a wedge on the third shot (especially for a hole location on the left side of the green where there is only fifteen yards of depth). And for you history buffs, crossing over the Sarazen Bridge near the green only serves as an unforgettable reminder of that scintillating shot by The Squire some 86 years ago.

original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/04/07/masters-conquer-augusta-national-par-fives/

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