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Masters survey: Augusta National's best holes and its sneaky-hardest holes

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Players light up when talking about Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters. It’s a spiritual setting that warms the heart and the singular tournament that stirs the senses. The explosion of colors, the anticipation of a Sunday charge. A 12th hole that basks in beauty while serving as a devilish conquest, a green jacket that triggers dreams and lives on forever.

The gathering every April among the Georgia pines is matchless, from the Augusta National Women’s Amateur to the Drive, Chip and Putt competition.

Ahead of this year’s 85th Masters Tournament, Golfweek surveyed 25 golfers, including 12 winners of the green jacket and 15 major champions in all, asking questions ranging from the food to the golf course to the experience.

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Today’s questions:

We often hear how difficult the tee shot is on the 12th in swirling winds, how difficult the third shot is into the 15th green off the downslope. Is there an underrated difficult shot that deserves bigger play?

“The tee shot on 18 is by far the hardest tee shot of the day. Over the years as they have started sneaking the tee box back, those trees and the pines seem to be leaning into the fairway and making that corridor so narrow off the tee. For the first 200 yards of the ball’s flight has to be so straight. Any curve with the ball will clip one of the limbs. If there’s some type of crosswind, it just becomes so hard to hold the ball up to keep it straight.” – 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman

“Second shot into 7, second shot into 17, second shot into 14 off a hanging lie.” – 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir

“For me, the 17th hole has become a real bear. It’s a sneaky, difficult hole. And the second shot into 7, because it’s getting longer and longer. It’s hard to judge a ball going into the green because in the old days it was a 9-iron or wedge. Now, for me, it’s a 6- or 7-iron.” – 1992 Masters champion Fred Couples

“The second shot on 18 always plays longer than what you think. The second shot on 15 if you are going for it is one of the hardest shots you can ever play. And on 13, depending on where you hit it, you can have an awkward lie and those shots are so difficult. Every hole has something to offer there that gest your attention.” – 2000 Masters champion Vijay Singh

“The second shot into No. 5 is much harder than it might look on TV, because there’s nowhere to land it, really. And No. 4 is a very long par 3 and you have to hit a 230-yard shot and be within three or four yards of your distance, which is not easily done when the wind blows.” – 1985 and 1993 Masters champion Bernhard Langer

“Coming into No. 9 is no picnic. You have crosswinds or wind behind you or wind into you. The angles involved in the downhill lie dictate how the ball will fly. That can be quite a bit of a nightmare to get the ball into a scoreable area on a three-tiered green. That’s a shot that is under the radar a bit. And it’s crucial to play the 9th well because it opens up your confidence going into 10, 11 and 12.” – 1988 Masters champion Sandy Lyle

“Second shot into 7, because of the wind. It swirls in there and it’s such a narrow green. If you miss that green and the pin is in a bowl or over a ridge, it’s nearly impossible to get it up-and-down.” – Marc Leishman

“The tee shot on 11 is so important. It gets talked about but it’s such a difficult tee shot. For me, for any pro really, the tee shot on 11, the tee shot on 12 and the tee shot on 13 are the key moments during the round.” – 2012 and 2014 Masters champion Bubba Watson

“There are a handful. The tee shot on 18 is such a narrow tee shot. If you pull it or push it a little bit you’re in the trees.” – Kevin Na

“The one that really stood out for me was the second shot into 13. It’s like a 4-iron or a 5-iron but it plays a little longer. But the ball is so far above your feet, it’s just so hard to hit it solid. That shot, I struggled with.” – Abraham Ancer

“The second shot on 9 to a front-right pin. You’re always on a downhill lie and you want to hit it left of the pin to use the slope but you could easily come out of it and the ball rolls all the way back down the hill. You can quickly make a big number. And the second shot on 10 is one of the hardest shots in golf.” – 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen

“I think the tee ball on 11 is ridiculously hard. For me, if I do push it a little, I could hug that tree line and get it far enough down there where I could hit a straight shot into the green. If you don’t get it down there a ways, all sorts of trouble comes into play. That’s as hard a shot there as there is.” – Matthew Wolff

“The shot off the fairway on 13 into the green. You don’t realize how steep the slope is there unless you’re there. It’s so tough to hit a 4-iron off that slope.” – Cameron Champ

“All of them. Every shot around there gets your attention.” – Cameron Smith

“I think the ball above your feet which is off a sort of downhill lie on 13 going for the green in two is so tough. I know people talk about it but I still don’t think people understand how tough it is. Even with an 8-iron.” – Billy Horschel

“The second shot on No. 1 is an underrated tough shot. I think it’s the toughest green on the course. There is so much slope on that green.” – Tony Finau

What is your favorite hole?

“The 12th hole. It’s such a brilliant par 3. When you look at the raw length of the hole, you think you should be dominating the hole. But because of the way the green runs at an angle, with Rae’s Creek in front, and you’re hitting a short iron and creating a lot of spin, like 8, 9, wedge, it accentuates the spin which affects the distance. Such a brilliant hole.” – 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman

“I love 13. It’s a great risk-reward hole. It has a little bit of everything.” – 2003 Masters champion Mike Weir

“Oddly enough, the first hole. I love how it’s shaped, how it looks, and in general, I like getting my round started on a hole I like. And the stretch of 11, 12 and 13, that area, like everyone else.” – 1992 Masters champion Fred Couples

“There are so many good ones there, it’s hard to pick just one. For me, I’d have to go No. 13. It’s a great par 5. A lot can happen there. And it’s one of the prettiest holes out there.” – 1987 Masters champion Larry Mize

“That’s a hard one because every hole there has some character in it. No. 11 comes to mind for me. And if you play them well, it’s your favorite hole. So there are a lot of them.” – 2000 Masters champion Vijay Singh

“Thirteen. Just a very good design, it’s beautiful to the eye, it’s very challenging. You have to try and draw your tee shot a bit and then you have a hanging, downhill, sidehill lie over a creek to an elevated green. It gets the heartbeat up a bit. Just a good risk-reward hole.” – 1985 and 1993 Masters champion Bernhard Langer

“Augusta National was the very first golf course where the very first time I played it, on every single hole on the tee box, I went, ‘Wow.’ It’s just a special course. So I don’t have a favorite.” – 1993 PGA champion Paul Azinger

“I love 13, because I eagled it twice in 2020.” – Marc Leishman

“Whatever hole I’ve won on, so 18 and 10. And I think everybody’s favorite hole is 13. And there are all these rumors about how they are going to change it. That hole is so great so hopefully there aren’t changes coming.” – 2012 and 2014 Masters champion Bubba Watson

“I don’t want to say No. 12 because I’ve had some issues there, so I’ll say No. 13. Such a cool hole.” – Kevin Na

“That is such a very tough question. No. 12, obviously. The stretch from 10 through 13 is so special. I love those holes.” – Abraham Ancer

“The 12th hole just stands out. It shows you a par 3 doesn’t have to be 200 yards to be a great par-3 hole.” – 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen

“I really like No. 2. I know the second shot can be from a severe downhill slope but I just love the fact that if you hit a good drive it’s a gettable hole.” – Matthew Wolff

“Eighteen. It’s an iconic hole. All the history there. And that walk up to the green is something.” – Cameron Champ

“That’s such a tough question. Probably 13. I love 13. And I love that whole stretch down in that area.” – Cameron Smith

“The 13th. It’s my favorite par 5 in the entire world. It’s just 510 yards but you have to hit a really good drive and then you have to deal with that sidehill lie in the fairway. You can easily make eagle or you can easily make double.” – Billy Horschel

“The 13th. It’s the best risk-reward hole I’ve ever seen.” – Tony Finau

“No. 3. I like to see guys make different plays off the tee. And on 3 you have to ask yourself if you want to get aggressive and hit driver or do you lay up and have a short club into a really difficult green.” – Matt Kuchar

original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2021/04/06/masters-2021-survey-augusta-national-golf-club-best-hardest-holes/

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