Six big Masters talking points – part five: What course changes are in store for 2024?

Mark McGowan

The green on hole no. 2, 'Pink Dogwood' (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Mark McGowan

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Before the PGA Championship moved to May, the wait between ‘Glory’s Last Shot’ and the ‘Tradition unlike any other’ seemed protracted, but with the additional month between the Open Championship and the Masters, it now seems interminable.

If a week is a long time in politics, nine months is a lifetime in golf, but after the sport has been in the limelight for all the wrong reasons, it’s time to focus on what really matters. That golfing temple in Augusta, Georgia, the history, the drama, the best players in the world coming together and locking horns in the quest for that iconic green jacket, and with it, sporting immortality. As the week-to-week offerings of professional golf continue to underwhelm, certain events transcend to whole new levels. This is it. This is sport. This is the hallowed turf. This is what we’ve all been waiting for. This is the Masters. Amen to that!

Six big Masters talking points

Every year, the Masters throws up more talking points than we’ve pages in this issue to cover. But we’ve narrowed it down to the six biggest as the storied Georgian venue will once again be the green battleground on which dreams are made, on which heroes are crowned, and on which hearts are broken.

Q5. What course changes are in store for 2024?

While ‘Azalea’, the par-5 13th and final leg of ‘Amen Corner’ was lengthened by some 35 yards prior to the 2023 tournament, signalling the most significant course change in many years, the 2024 changes are minor in comparison.

‘Pink Dogwood’, the par-5 second hole and easiest hole on the course in 2023, will play 10 yards longer for this year’s Masters as the tee box has been moved back and to the left. The hole will now measure 585 yards, making it the longest hole at Augusta National, but playing significantly downhill. Last year, it played to an average of 4.637, its second lowest scoring average ever behind 2020 when the tournament was played in November.

Whilst 10 additional yards may not seem overly significant, only the longest players will be able to carry the fairway bunker. The slight shift left also makes it harder to thread the needle between the bunker and the towering pines that line the fairway, and encourages players to hit a draw if they want to take advantage of the slope that will kick the ball forward and left, though anything overdrawn could make its way down to the penal area at the base of the pines.

Given the horrific weather in 2023, the significance of the lengthening of 13 has yet to be fully seen but having been the easiest hole on average in the 61 previous years, ‘Azalea’ ranked 15th in difficulty last year. Now requiring a long iron or fairway wood for most players looking to take on the green in two, the risk-reward element has increased, and it will require two very well struck shots to offer an eagle opportunity.


The above feature appeared in the 2024-3 edition or Irish Golfer. To view the full edition click below

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