The opening day of the 87th Masters is upon us, so too is a first public showing of the lengthened 13th hole at Augusta National.
It’s been six years since the elite Georgia club purchased land from their neighbours at the Augusta Country Club that included two-and-a-bit holes of the country club land located immediately over the fence at the back of the Augusta National 13th tee.
Of course, Augusta CC were richly rewarded by Augusta National in agreeing to the sale.
Both former chairman Billy Payne and present chairman Fred Ridley had politely side-stepped direct reference of any such sale and/or what Augusta National planned to do with the last piece of the land the club desperately sought in its ‘expansion’ plans.
Actually, Payne was asked by the accredited media during the 2016 Masters to confirm rumours that the club was looking to purchase land owned by the Augusta CC.
“As we do every year, and historically forever, we are always looking at options for numerous of our holes,” said Payne.
“We create plans looking into the future, when we believe that the shot value of certain second shots, principally, has been impacted by how far the ball is now traveling.
“As a consequence, 13 is one of those holes we are studying. We have made no decision whatsoever. Plans are underway to be considered, and as I said, that is one of many holes that we now have under consideration.”
Ridley was asked a similar question at last year’s Masters but politely dodged the query stating there was “no timetable” for changing the hole.
Fast forward to near the end of 2022, and confirmation Augusta’s 13th tee has indeed been lengthened as we saw by the photographs released by Eureka Earth.
Indeed, ‘Azalea’ as the 13th hole is known, has been stretched to 545-yards and that’s 35-yards longer than last year, a big difference to 1934 when the hole first played 480-yards, and the year of the maiden Masters Invitational.
In fact, the 13th hole has now been lengthened three times since 1934 with five to seven yards added to the tee ahead of the 1975 Masters, and 25-yards in 2002 and this latest.
Last year the 13th was playing at 510-yards, making it one of the shorter par-5s in men’s major championship golf but here we are and 100 days to tee off in the 2023 Masters and the tee box at ‘Azalea’ has been lengthened, so much so, at an expected 540-yards.
If so, it will still be 30-yards shy of the par-5 fourth hole and one of two par-5s players will face at Oak Hill, and venue for a fourth time in hosting the 2023 PGA Championship.
And at 540-yard, August’s 13th will also be some 20-yards shy of the shortest of the two par-5s to feature on the scorecard for the 2023 US Open at the Los Angeles Country Club.
However, Augusta’s new lengthened 13th hole will be a meagre two yards longer than the shortest of the four par-5s, and that’s the 528-yard fifth hole, to feature at Royal Liverpool for next year’s 151st Open Championship.
A number of players teeing-up this week have shared their views.
“Personally, I think the change to the 13th tee is a good change relative to the field as there were guys who continued to tee-up hitting straight over the trees, and the lengthening of the tee should stop that.
“Now, if you try to take it over the extended tree line in play, you are going to have to get lucky so the changes will be forcing you to hit driver and a best second shot of somewhere around 205-yards to the front of the green.
“So, you’re looking at a second shot from anywhere from 225 to 245-yards and I wish, and I heard Tiger being asked this question earlier in the week of the Hero and that is if they moved the tee after further to the right. By that, I mean would players now shooting up to where there was this old hill. Whereas, and in the past, you would hug the left side and you’d have a big window down that side but now, I think, the 12th green gets in the way.
“Now, if you are starting your 13th tee shot right you are going right over the 12th green.
“So, I don’t think it makes the hole better but for me personally, I can only see the lengthening of the tee can help me.”
“When I first saw the aerial shots of the new 13th tee, I thought it doesn’t look that much longer, and it looks like it is going to play longer if you’re deciding to lay-up and while it may play longer, surely there will be a round or two where they will have the tee forward.
“Seeing the changes being here a few weeks ago it really does not make any difference to me as I can’t cut the corner off the tee, and if I do hit a good drive off the 13th, I will still be going for the most part with a long-iron into the green.
.“Moving the tee back may take a little bit of the excitement out of seeing players go for the green in two but patrons will still applaud great shots.
“The thing is the 13th’s still a hard hole to play but then if you are out first on a Sunday morning it’s easy golf, isn’t it? (smiling)”.
“It’s definitely harder. I think with modern technology and that tee shot — I used to hit 3-wood there because I can sling hook a 3-wood. I can’t sling hook a driver on purpose. The ball just doesn’t spin enough. I can do it by accident, but I can’t quite sling it on purpose. Because I like to fade my driver more off the tee, and so when it comes to that tee shot and hitting a hard hook with the driver, it’s not really a shot that I’ll try just because it’s not worth the risk for me.
“The 13th hole is one where I’d hit the same shot I hit on 10. The 3-wood, it has enough spin where the ball can actually stay in the air. With the driver, when I hook it, the ball doesn’t have enough spin to where it can stay in the air and hook that much. It is a kind of nosedives. But the 3-wood, I can sit up there and it will just be like a boomerang.
“So, the 13th is really the biggest change for me. Now I’ll just hit the driver kind of out towards the corner and try and use more of the contouring to get the ball that way versus before — I should say it this way: My driver is now going where my 3-wood kind of used to go. My 3-wood I could maybe get it a little bit further around the corner, but my driver is now going to where that 3-wood was before.
“If you hit a good drive before you could kind of get it around the corner, and then be staring at maybe a mid-iron in.
“But now you are hitting into that slope in the fairway and maybe having a 3-iron into that green, so you could see more guys laying up at that hole.
“The second shot also is going to depend on the pin position. I hit the driver into the creek when I was here a few weeks ago, but the day before that I hit the driver and I think it was a 4-iron.”
“The changes to the 13th are a little like 11 in terms of the change. I think they made the tee shot easier because you don’t really have to do anything with the tee shot anymore.
“You just hit it sort of straight up the chute. The second shot is much more difficult. A little bit like 11. The second shot on 11 is much more difficult with how they’ve contoured the front of the green.
“I used to hit 8-iron from a flat lie into 13 and now I hit a 5-iron from the ball way above my feet. Just makes you think a little bit more about the second shot which I think is good.”
Listen to our Masters & West of Ireland Preview Podcast
Leave a comment