The 2023 Masters now less than 100 days away as Spieth & Lowry discuss changes to Augusta’s 13th tee

Bernie McGuire
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The lengthened 13th hole tee (Photograph Eureka Earth)

You’re probably rugged-up somewhere striving to fight off the winter chill or maybe lucky enough to be lazing beside the pool not to be overly interested in the distant staging of the 87th hosting of the Masters?

However, what will be most interesting about the 2023 Masters is that it will be a first look at the lengthened 13th tee, and Augusta National’s newest change in its quest to ‘protect’ the famed Georgia golfing gem for the ravages of length.

A Eureka Earth drone has been photographing the course since the gates closed to patrons soon after Scottie Scheffler won the 2022 Masters and in particular periodically snapping work going on at the 13th tee, so that we know for a fact the 13th tee has been lengthened, and this results from the club’s successful purchase of land owned by its neighbour the Augusta Country Club (See photographs).

Masters champ Jordan Spieth, thanks to feedback from his caddy who recently played Augusta National, said he likes the change.

“Personally, I think the change to the 13th tee is a good change relative to the field as there are guys who to tee-up hitting straight over the trees, so the lengthening of the tee should stop that,” said Spieth speaking with Irish Golfer Magazine.

“Now, if you try to take it over the extended treeline now in play, you are going to have to get lucky, as 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 now going to be looking at a second shot anywhere from 225 to 245-yards.

“I recall Tiger being asked this question earlier in the week of the Hero and that is if they moved the tee further to the right what would be the scenario.  By that, I mean would players now be driving to where there was this old hill?  Whereas, before the lengthening of the tee, you would hug the left side and you’d have a big window down that side but now, I think, the 12th hole gets in the way”.

Ireland’s Shane Lowry won a set of Augusta National crystal highball glasses when he chipped-in for eagle ‘3’ during the opening round of this year’s Masters, and while he’s not seen the changes to 13 in person, his view is slightly different to that of Spieth’s in that it he feels it will not make a drastic change to how he will play the hole named ‘Azalea’.

“I’ve looked at the aerial shots of the new 13th tee and while the tee-off area doesn’t look all that much longer, it does look like the hole is going to play longer especially if you’re deciding to lay-up”, said Lowry.

“So, while it may play longer, surely there will be a round or two where they will have the tee forward.

“Really, it 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”.

Before – Augusta National 11th, green, 12th hole & 13th tee. The hole running bottom of picture to top is the 9th hole of the Augusta CC (Photo – Eureaka Earth)

Of course, we’ve actually known since mid-2017 that the famed green-jacketed, members only club had purchased land from their neighbours at the Augusta Country Club and that included No. 8 green and No. 9 fairway, located immediately over the fence at the back of the Augusta National 13th tee, and Augusta CC were very well rewarded by Augusta National in agreeing to the sale and the re-routing of the eighth and ninth holes.

Though former chairman Billy Payne and present chairman Fred Ridley have politely side-stepped direct reference of any such sale and/or what Augusta National was planning 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 this 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 Augusta’s 13th tee has indeed been lengthened as we’ve seen by the photographs released by Eureka Earth.

It is being estimated the new tee will see the 13th hole play to around 540, 550-yards and 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, 25-yards in 2002 and now 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 less than 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 if Augusta’s lengthened 13th plays to 540-yards it 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.

Augusta’s new lengthened 13th hole will also be onlt a few 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.

And in speaking earlier of Lowry winning a set of Augusta National etched crystal goblets at this year’s Masters, that’s a question asked of both Lowry and Spieth.  Is the move to lengthen the 13th hole to cut-down on the rewarding of crystalware for eagle ‘3s’ at the 13th?

Though Lowry, who also earned himself a large Augusta National logo’d bowl for his stunning ace at the par-3 16th during the 2016 Masters, is not too sure he agrees.

“The thing is the 13th is still a hard hole to play but then if you are out first on a Sunday morning it’s easy golf, isn’t it?”, he said smiling.

Spieth, and winner of the 2015 Masters, believes the change to the 13th hole will, in fact, cut back on the club’s presentation of glassware.

“I have been fortunate in my nine appearances at August to collect items of crystal for eagles at the second, 13th and the 15th holes but now with the lengthening of 13, you’re probably going to see less eagles and fewer players taking home sets of crystal highball glasses”, said Spieth.

“Of course, if you get a good drive away in the right wind and then into the green, and other than to a back left pin, then you’ve probably a good shot at making a three”.

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