The Masters Course Guide
Robert Cobley brings you his analysis of the world famous Augusta Golf Course, the home of the Masters. Ahead of the event, also make sure to check out his Masters betting tips as well as the rest of our Masters updates at Bet UK. Head over to Bet UK’s online sportsbook for the latest Masters betting odds.
History Of The Masters
The Masters is one of the oldest and greatest sporting occasions. Held each April at the famed Augusta National course in the Southern US state of Georgia, The Masters holds its place as the Premier annual golfing event, and is steeped in history. The signature green jacket, worn on multiple occasions by the likes of Tiger Woods, Nick Faldo, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and more recently double champion Jordan Spieth, is one of the most revered and sought after prizes in sport.
The Course: Augusta National - 7650 Yards
Aesthetically there is no better sporting arena than Augusta National. Since the first staging of the event back in 1934, it has developed both in size and beauty to become the amphitheatre that it is today. One that has seen almost unparalleled sporting drama. The front 9 is relatively unspectacular. Holes such as the par 3 5th, and the newly lengthened par 4 4th provide a gruelling test, with respite coming on the 2nd and 8th which are, as with all the par 5s at Augusta, relatively scorable. It is not until we get onto the back 9 that the drama begins.
485 Yards - Par 4
A sweeping down hill right to left hole which famously saw Rory Mcilroy’s challenge end in spectacular fashion back in 2011 as he hooked the ball into an adjoining garden in what began a run that saw him score in the 40s for the back side and blow the tournament. The 10th is a tough challenge, hitting an uphill approach from a downhill lie and an undulating green is a test for even the best players, and we expect to see some big numbers run up on this hole.
455 Yards - Par 4
A right to left par 4 with the green guarded left by water and right by a substantial run off area. This is the start of Amen Corner and traditionally one of the toughest holes on the course. Par here is a great score.
155 yards - Par 3
The 12th is Augusta’s signature hole and one of the most unpredictable on the course, where scores regularly range from 2 to 7 as the players attack a shallow green with a short iron. The green is small, and any shots finding it will produce a strong birdie chance however, if the player is long, they are on the pine needles or amongst the azaleas. If they are short, like Jordan Spieth (twice when holding a 4 shot lead) in 2017, the brook awaits, the ball will be sunk, and with it so can be a players chances of the green jacket. A truly exceptional hole.
528 Yards - Par 5
The final hole of Amen Corner, and the best chance for a birdie at Augusta National. The 13th is a slight dogleg left, and with the ball running down from the right to a generous fairway, players will often face only a mid-iron approach to a large sloping green. The main hazard is the brook running in front of the green. This is a lateral water hazard, and players can sometimes chop the ball out, but most of the field will see this as a significant birdie opportunity. The hole is most famous for Nick Faldo being jeered as he stood for 5 minutes over a shot in his famous win against Greg Norman before firing an arrow like 2 iron into the middle of the green on the way to his final green jacket. Any players in contention Sunday afternoon will need to birdie this hole to stay in contention.
465 Yards - Par 4
The 14th is one of the more standard holes on the back 9; probably one of only two along with the 17th. It is a long par 4 and, as is the nature of Augusta, it is a right to left dogleg. The danger for players is missing the wide and generous fairway from the tee, with pine needles on both sides of the tree lined fairway, this can make the approach challenging. Up on the green, there is a large slope from back to front and left to right, and on occasions, this hole has become near unplayable on a Sunday. The organisers will be hoping to avoid a repeat of this, and the 14th will likely average around par for most of the week.
533 Yards - Par 5
The final par 5 at Augusta is the long downhill 15th. This represents another birdie chance for the players but, unlike 13, the approach is far more treacherous, and the bigger hitters hold a significant advantage on this hole. The optimal line is down the left, under the big oak tree and out into the fairway. The risk is not hitting it far enough and getting stuck under the tree. As for the approach, there is waterfront left, and a bail out area to the right where most of the field will end up. Some more adventurous players have on occasions decided to fire the ball into the left grandstand to get a free drop over the water, and a great look at birdie. Anyone that goes too long will bound off the run off area, and possibly into the lake at the back, although there is some rough to help stop the ball if they are lucky. This is always a pivotal hole of Championship day.
170 Yards - Par 3
The 16th was the setting for perhaps the most famous shot in golf history. Tiger Woods, locked in an epic battle with fellow American Chris Dimarco had gone long, but chipped his ball perfectly along the ridge that runs through the green, allowing it to trickle down and die into the hole, prompting almost never before seen celebrations amongst both the player, caddie, and the thousands of spectators. That drama is not unusual on a hole where aces are common place, and other than a couple of bunkers, there is not a lot of danger to golfers of this standard. If players are locked together come Sunday, pars won’t be good enough to get it done here with the final day pin on the back left of the green at the bottom of the ridge attracting many birdie opportunities.
440 Yards - Par 4
The 17th is another left to right dogleg, and set up very similarly to 14. Players need to again avoid missing the fairway and finding the pine straw in order to set up an approach that is generally easier than the one into 14. There is a bunker protecting the front of the green and, given a mid to low iron for the approaches, any ball finding this is in danger of plugging and could lead to an almost certain bogey, so it is one to be avoided. If the players do carry the bunker, the green is receptive and the Sunday pin is front right so would set them up an excellent chance of birdie. This is a great risk or reward approach on the penultimate hole.
465 Yard - Par 4
The 18th is a rare right to left tee shot, and one that is extraordinarily tight. Most players will take a 3 wood and lay up short of the bunker on the left of the fairway, leaving something like a 7 iron into the green. Some players might be design or necessity have to take on that bunker to leave as little as a 9 iron into the green and what, on a Sunday, is a very ‘birdie-able’ pin position on the front left. There have been so many famous moments on this hole, perhaps none more so than Sandy Lyle’s stunning 7 iron from the bunker to set up his Master's triumph in 1988. Other than the danger, shots missing too far right will be amongst the trees and likely blocked out. This is a fantastic finishing hole.
What Type of Player Will Win
In terms of the tee to green game at Augusta, players need to hit the ball long (it’s a monster of a course), and to be able to shape the ball from right to left. Left handers have historically over performed due to the significantly large number of right to left doglegs. This is one reason for the large number of left handed winners at with the likes of Bubba Watson(30/1), Phil Mickelson(33/1), and Canadian Mike Weir(2000/1) all triumphing here in recent times. This shape suits their game. It also suits right to left right handers such as Rory McIlroy(7/1F) and Rickie Fowler who were both in the top 5 last year. If you hit the ball a long way and can shape a right handed draw, you will challenge. This is also part of the reason for the consistent over performance of American veteran Freddie “Boom Boom” Couples(50/1*).
Along with the good long game, players will need to be highly proficient around the greens to counter the run off areas and fast putting surfaces that characterise Augusta. Last year’s winner Patrick Reed(40/1), and regular contender Phil Mickelson(33/1), are two of the best short game players in the World, and that shone through when each of them took the title here.
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