- PGA TOUR players give their insider perspectives on each hole at Augusta National for the Masters. (Harry How/Getty Images)
Augusta National Golf Club is familiar territory to golf fans, many of whom eagerly watch the year’s first major championship on television. A two-dimensional screen cannot accurately display the holes’ extreme elevation changes or the subtle slopes on the course’s famed putting surfaces. That’s why PGATOUR.COM asked the world’s best players to describe how they play Augusta National’s historic holes. We hope their insight will give you a deeper appreciation for this hallowed ground.
No. 1: 455 yards, par-4
Adam Scott (2013 Masters champion) says: I think the first hole at Augusta is a very underrated difficult hole. Most of the time it’s a 3-wood or a driver because it’s a very long hole these days. It gets narrow up by the fairway bunker so some guys will lay back with a 3-wood to the start of the bunker where it’s the widest and you still get up the hill to see the green. The fairway is probably 45 yards wide just short of the bunker. It’s probably 15-20 yards wide at the end of the bunker. I’ll hit anywhere from a 6-iron to an 8-iron into the green. The green is very severe. Hitting the green is a great start but it’s a lot of work on the green just to get it in the hole. You’re faced with some very, very difficult putts if you’re not in the right spot. It’s a raised up green with run offs on all sides and long is very, very bad news. It’s a good shot to hit it into the middle of the green and leave yourself a 30-footer. The middle-right pin is the only pin that you might challenge. There’s a backstop behind it and it feeds into that little bowl there. Everything else is danger if you go at it and miss it, so middle of the green is always a good play. If you can start your round off with a 4 there, I feel like it’s a birdie.
No. 2: 575 yards, par-5
Rickie Fowler says: “No. 2 at Augusta, you come into it as your first real birdie opportunity. It’s maybe one of the easier drives for a lot of guys, you just aim it at the fairway bunker and try to hit a draw. It’s a tough second shot. You have a downhill lie, usually in the 240 area, and the green is sloped severely left-to-right and you don’t want to be above the hole. The trees on the left mean you almost always have to draw it into the green and with it being a downhill lie, it’s tough to do that. You’ll see guys, if they’re not comfortable with the shot, hit it into the front-right bunker or push it down to the bottom right side of the fairway, where you’ll have some fairly easy chips to some of the pins. The one bunker you really try to avoid is the front-left. To the front pin, if you hit it anywhere left, it’s almost impossible to hit it within 20 feet of the hole. There’s a lot of strategy at Augusta, but especially in the par 5s.”
No. 3: 350 yards, par-4
Charl Schwartzel (2011 Masters champion) says: “No. 3 gives you options. You decide what you want to do according to where the pin placement is. Most of the time I would hit driver to sort of any flag except the left flag. If the flag is on the left, I prefer to hit a layup with a 3-iron and a wedge into that green because of how the green slopes on that left side. You have the bunkers up the left side (of the fairway). Your driver can carry those bunkers, and you can get it over the hill. It runs into a little hollow at the bottom there and you normally have a 30- or 40-yard pitch.
“If you lay it back, you don’t want to lay it back too far back because you will have sort of a blind shot because of the ridge. You need to get it right up to the bunkers if you are going to lay up so you can have a visual to the green. (Schwartzel made eagle on No. 3 in the final round of his 2011 victory, hitting 3-iron and sand wedge).
“It’s one of the easier holes on the course. It’s one of the holes you’re looking at birdie.”
No. 4: 240 yards, par-3
“Flowering Crab Apple”
Jason Dufner says: “I’m usually hitting a 3-iron, sometimes a 5-wood. It’s probably the toughest hole on the golf course, to be honest. I’m just trying to get it on the green. That front-right bunker plays OK to a couple of the hole locations. You’re not going to make worse than a 4 from the front-right bunker, and you’ll have a pretty good chance at 3. It’s just one of those holes where you’re trying to make par. I think I made birdie once.
“The front-left pin is extremely tough. It’s not very wide, maybe 12 to 14 paces at the most. You’re probably better off in that left bunker when the pin is in the front.”
No. 5: 455 yards, par-4
Trevor Immelman (2008 Masters champ) says: “It’s a hard hole. You’re just trying to find the fairway between the traps (on the left) and the pine trees down the right. The bunker is probably 20 feet deep. It’s hard to get to that bunker. There’s a bit of rough there, and the way that hill sits, if you’ve pulled one, it will come up short and you can try to hook something around (the bunker). You don’t have much of a shot from down there. Depending on the wind, and if the weather is nice, you can have anything between a 6-iron to an 8- or 9-iron in. That green is very undulating. The first 15 yards of the green are really irrelevant because of those (steep, uphill) slopes. It doesn’t even feel like it’s green. You have to land it at least 15 (yards) on. If you can keep the ball just short of the back bunker, you can pretty much putt to any pin. It’s a hard two-putt if you’re not on that flat part in the back.”
No. 6: 180 yards, par-3
Jim Furyk says: “No. 6 is interesting because if the pin is front left, you have a chance to put the ball on the green and feed it down to the hole. Back-left is almost impossible to get the ball to it. You’re going to be putting from 20 feet short and rarely do you get the putt to the hole because it’s quick and you don’t want to knock it by. That top-right pin, it’s tough to get the ball to stop on that level. For every 10 good iron shots I’ve hit at that top shelf, I’ve probably only had three or four balls stop on it. It’s probably only about 8 yards by 7 yards, at the most. A lot of that isn’t useable, because if you hit it on the back, it’s going to go over. You’re hitting to a very small area, but most guys will take a pop at it. If you miss it a little long, I’d rather have that chip or putt from back there.”
No. 7: 450 yards, par-4
Henrik Stenson says: “It’s a hole that’s been made quite a bit longer compared to when I played my first Masters 12 years ago. Now it demands a pretty strong tee shot. The fairway is sloping a little bit from left to right so you kind of want to be just left of center, and then it’s really about distance control into the green.
“The best flag to get close to is the front-right one. The one that’s tucked in the upper-right-hand corner, I wouldn’t say that’s worth going at unless you’ve got a super good yardage. I’d say it’s better to hit it where that other pin is, in that bowl, and give yourself a 20-footer uphill.
“The trickiest ones are the ones on the left-hand side; if you’re left, you’re going off the green that way, and if you’re right, you’re going down into that swale we just talked about. You’ve just got to be very precise. It’s all about hitting the middle of that section. You’re most likely going to have a slick downhill putt for that front-right pin. I’ve stiffed it once or twice over the years, but that’s been either a slight mishit, or a situation where you’ve got just the right number and you’re like, ‘I’ve just got to go for this.’ It’s a tricky green.”
No. 8: 570 yards, par-5
Brandt Snedeker says: “There’s a big bunker on the right side that guys are trying to avoid. An ideal shot shape is a cut off the tee but being a par-5 guys try to take it over that bunker and draw it to get a little extra distance. If you get lucky, you can get a 5- or 6-iron out of that bunker. If you’re up against the lip, you’re going to have to hit wedge out. It’s a blind second shot. You can’t really see the green. There’s some trees up on the left that you are trying to hook it around. The green is diabolical. There’s a big ridge going right through the middle of the green, dissecting it into a front half and back half. The front pin has kind of a bowl effect so guys can hit it close. The back-right pin is tough to get close to. It’s a tough two-putt just about anywhere on that green. It’s a big risk-reward par-5 because if you do overturn your second shot, you’re in trouble. If you miss it left, it’s impossible; it’s probably a 1-out-of-10 you’ll get it up-and-down. It’s all fairway between No. 8 and the ninth tee, so you have plenty of room to bail out right.“
No. 9: 460 yards, par-4
Zach Johnson (2007 Masters champion) says: “It’s a tee shot that looks fairly daunting. You can’t see where your ball ends up, but there’s a tree out in the distance that is your target. It calls for a draw because the fairway goes right-to-left, but you can still play a power-fade because it does open up on the right side. The other thing that’s hard about it is that when you get back in that little hollow back in the tee box, you don’t really feel the wind, so whatever you feel on 8, you have to remember it for 9. The second shot is on a severe downhill lie hitting severely uphill, so it’s one that with a three-tiered green, a false front, hitting it to the middle of the green is pretty good. The front pins are the hardest on that hole because it’s hard to keep it on that level. Missing it right on that hole on the second shot isn’t ideal, but isn’t that bad because you’re kind of chipping back uphill. It’s usually a driver and mid-iron for me.”
No. 10: 495 yards, par-4
Justin Rose says: “People who haven’t been on site can’t appreciate how much it turns left and how much it goes downhill. There’s not really a massive emphasis on distance because you get a lot of help from the hill, but you have to keep it far enough left to hit the hill. If you bail out to the right at all, there’s a bit of a shelf and a plateau that holds up the ball. I don’t like to hit driver off that tee because if I hit driver I have to start it too close to the left trees. I like to take a 3-wood, start it out wide and really work it with a hook. I’m hooking it 50 yards. You almost can’t overhook it. The second shot always plays longer than it looks. That huge bunker about 60 yards short of the green messes with your depth perception. You have to trust the yardage. I’m usually hitting 5-iron to 7-iron. Coming off a slight downslope might take some distance off the ball, too, because you don’t get it as high as you want it to be. You’re always trying to leave the ball short and left of the hole. That green slopes hard back-right to front-left. If you miss too far left, then it runs off and there’s a couple trees there that are tricky. Anything missed right into that bunker is a tough up-and-down.”
No. 11: 505 yards, par-4
Stewart Cink says: “First of all, you deal with the fear. That’s how you start. It’s just so demanding. The fairway is so narrow that you’re just aiming for the center; even if you miss the fairway in the rough, you’re just hoping you stay between the trees. If you hit the fairway, then you have really a scary second shot. They have changed the hole slightly over the years. Everyone knows about the trees up the right side that have cut the fairway in half, but what a lot of people don’t realize is how much they’ve lowered right of the green, so if you miss to the right, you no longer have a simple pitch shot. The Larry Mize shot was just a bump-and-run that traveled across level ground and got on the green and went in the hole. Now you’re about 3-4 feet below the green there, so you have that shot uphill to a green that slopes toward the lake. It’s a very scary short-game shot from the right side of the green. You know you can’t miss right, so then the pond becomes more in play. It’s a genius move, as most of their changes are.
“If you hit the fairway, which is narrow, you have a middle- or long-iron to a real demanding green with a lot of severe punishment for missing. You’re hitting from a pretty level lie, but the shot is downhill. The shot is about 8-10 yards downhill. That’s what it plays. (You can aim at) a couple of trees behind the green that look like they come out of the bunker, and when you’re hitting your approach shot you just have to decide how bold you want to be. You usually pick one of those trees, and it is like red light, yellow light, green light. You rarely ever go for a flag unless it’s on the right side and then you still have to be really disciplined. The green itself is kind of non-descript for Augusta National. It’s basically large and has one general slope, back right to front left.”
No. 12: 155 yards, par-3
Jim Furyk says: “Most people don’t appreciate how skinny that green is. I think it’s only 9 yards deep over the bunker, and most guys, if the pin is right, are aiming over that bunker. Well, you’re hitting to an area that is only 9 yards deep. It’s easy to knock it over the green. Short is wet. It’s probably going to be a 5 at least. You’ll see a lot of guys hedge long. When the wind is down(wind) off that tee box, you’ll notice it gets caught in those trees and the flag actually points back at you.
“There’s a lot of times where the 11th green shows a flag with downwind, and the 12th flag shows the wind at you. Of course, more often than not, you can’t trust that it’s downwind, so you play for no wind and you rip one over the green, and that’s a tough 3. For a short par 3, it’s probably the best and toughest short par-3 in golf. You have about 16 yards (of depth) on the left side to hit, so I think a lot of guys will aim there, in the center-left, but that’s no bargain to a back-right pin. There’s not a lot of safe. It’s an easy 4 from the bunkers. I’ve hit a lot of shots that I thought I hit well that ended up just over the green and you’re left scratching your head. It’s just tough to judge.”
No. 13: 510 yards, par-5
Rory McIlroy says: “You actually have quite a steep climb from the 12th green up to the 13th tee. It’s a good thing the tee is a little higher because it enables you to take it up over those trees on the left if you want to. You’re looking at a wall of pines on the right and some overhanging ones on the left. There’s a lighter-colored tree that a lot of guys try to aim at and draw it off of. Some guys go up and over the left side. It depends on conditions, but I’ll usually hit driver because that ice storm a couple years ago thinned it out on the left. The trees on the left aren’t as thick so you have a better chance of getting through them if you don’t hit a great one. Then it’s just about how much you want to take on, how much you want to risk. If you take a little more risk off the tee and you pull it off you have a much easier second shot. You’re hitting a mid- to short-iron off a flattish lie instead of a 3- or 4-iron off a real ball-above-your-feet lie. I’ve always said that the second shot at 13, no matter where you are on that hole, it’s just the prettiest. The three bunkers that frame the green, all the azaleas on the left, the tall trees, I could drop a bag of balls there and just hit balls all day into that green and love it.”
No. 14: 440 yards, par-4
Stewart Cink says: “I love 14. It’s kind of a copy of the 14th at St. Andrews, with the green, because it has a huge slope up in the front and then it all pitches away. The first half of the top shelf goes dead away from you, then the second half goes mostly left-to-right. Off the tee, there’s only one thing you’re thinking: you have to turn it right to left. The shorter hitters can hit a straight ball, but if you’re in the longer half of the field, you have to turn your ball right to left with a driver or a 3-wood. The fairway slopes left-to-right, so that further complicates the second shot because you know you have to keep it left of the hole because of the slope of the green, but the ground is encouraging your ball to go right, and you have an uphill second shot, so you have a lot of factors working against hitting it left. So many times you hit what you think is a good shot, and you see it land 5 feet right of your target, and you can see it disappear and it comes out way right, 40-50 feet right.
“More often than not on 14 green, you end up with either a real simple birdie putt, pretty close, or a super hard two-putt. The sections where the holes are located are pretty small and the rest of the green is pretty severe, so if you just miss that section, it usually travels on down the green a long way, and you have a lot of putts that go up a significant hill to a little plateau. The first 20 yards of the green are not usable, are a false front.”
No. 15: 530 yards, par-5
Charl Schwartzel (2011 Masters champion) says: “Ideally, if you can keep the ball up the right side, the fairway slopes a little right-to-left. From the tee box, it looks like a wide fairway, but you have trees out about 330 yards that cut into the middle of the fairway from the left side. It normally leaves you around 220 to 230 yards to a really narrow green. There’s not a really good place to miss it. Long leaves you a really tough chip back toward the water, and short is in the water. Most guys go for it, though, because you have about 15-20 yards of downhill elevation, so it leaves you with a 4-iron or hybrid. At Augusta, the par-5s are the key, so you’re really trying to hit a good shot in there and give yourself a chance for eagle or birdie.
The lie (on the second shot) is not that much downhill because the fairway only starts going downhill at about 400 yards. You have to take that into account on the lay-up. (The third shot) always seems to play a little farther than what you think it should. It’s one of those holes I feel it’s key to lay up to a yardage you are comfortable to. If you have a yardage that is in between clubs, you’re going to have a tough time hitting the green.”
No. 16: 170 yards, par-3
Luke Donald says: “No. 16 is really all about the green. It’s a medium-length par 3. Certain holes, you can attack, certain ones you can’t. The ones on the top, the back-right and middle-right, are probably the toughest ones to get to. It’s such a small target. I think club selection is important. The wind tends to swirl a little bit around there. Those top pins, if you’re between clubs, you usually take less club and hit it hard.
“They’ve made the back-right a touch bigger in the past few years, but it is still pretty small. From the tee, it doesn’t look like much. You can’t miss it long in that bunker. It’s almost an automatic bogey. Front pins, you want to use the (right-to-left) slope. The Sunday, back-left pin, you’re trying to land it a little right of the hole and use the slope to bring it down there. You have about 20-25 feet right of the Sunday pin that you can use (to funnel the ball toward the hole). It’s a good pin because the water is a little bit in play, and that bunker is in play, but most people are trying to hit it a little right of the pin and use the slope. You can have anywhere from 9-iron to 5- or 6-iron, if it’s into the wind to the back pin and the tee is back, it can play 190 yards.”
No. 17: 440 yards, par-4
Jason Day says: “Even without the old Eisenhower Tree it is still a demanding tee shot. If you get a good drive away you might even have a wedge in your hand, so it is a hole that might not bring any fears but it is one you have to respect. If you add variables like weather and wind then the approach becomes tricky, as long is dead and short brings problems as well. You don’t want to kill your momentum here with a mental error. The second shot is imperative. From the fairway you can’t see the back of the green, you only see the lip of the front bunker. The depth perception makes it feel like its not very deep even though it is.”
No. 18: 465 yards, par-4
Zach Johnson (2007 Masters champion) says: “It’s a tough hole. It’s very much a chute. You have more fairway on the right than it looks. It calls for a power fade off the bunker out there. Some guys can get to that bunker downwind. I can’t. The tee shot is slightly uphill. The second shot is 6-7 percent uphill, so if you have 200 yards, it plays 10-15 yards longer. The green looks really, really small to the eye from the fairway. It’s multi-tiered with a false front. Middle of the green, especially with a mid-iron, is ideal. The ball will roll back if the pin is up front. It’s hard to get up-and-down long. On average, it’s usually a 5- or 6-iron. Anywhere from 180 to 215. If the pin is on the right side of the green, being left is never bad, and vice versa. If you short-side yourself, you’re making a bogey unless you make a long putt. The front-left pin on Sunday, you don’t want to be left.”