Golf courses of the world: #3 Augusta National, USA

Published 05/03/2010 08:15:00

The first so-called Major of the golfing year, the Masters, is unique in that it is always played on the same course every year. Augusta National Golf Club was the brainchild of great American golfer Bobby Jones, an amazing player who retired at just 28 despite winning several majors.


Strategic design


Having found the ideal site for his dream golf course, Jones enlisted the services of Alister MacKenzie, a Yorkshire-born Scotsman who had recently emigrated to America and was in great demand as a golf course architect. He settled in California where two of his outstanding designs, Pasatiempo and Cypress Point, were brought to Jones' attention.

Jones immediately recognised MacKenzie's flair for strategic, rather than penal, design. Jones had it in mind that Augusta would be a course that his high-handicap friends could get round without too much punishment, yet it should tax the top players whom he would invite every year for a tournament.

As designed, Augusta, then, had wide fairways with few bunkers and little or no rough. The key to its difficulty lay with its greens which were contoured and angled in such a way that only an approach shot played from one ideal spot on the fairway stood any chance of hitting and holding on the green.


Today's course


The course we see today is significantly different from that of the 1930s. The two nines have been reversed, a completely new 16th hole was added during Jones' lifetime and there have been alterations to the bunkering. However the biggest change has been in the way the course is set up for the Masters. New tees have been built to stretch the course, fairways have been narrowed, trees planted and the the greens are prepared at such frightening speeds that putting is almost impossible.


Amen Corner


The most treacherous part of the course is Amen Corner. The downhill 11th involves a drive that must be perfectly placed, for the approach shot is played to a slippery green guarded by a pond.

While the 12th is only 155 yards long, the wind swirls in the valley, making club selection difficult. The green is broad but shallow and threatened by Rae's Creek and lurking bunkers. Rae's Creek also comes into play on the 13th, a sharp dogleg with a gambling second shot played to a vast, rolling green encircled by the creek and bunkers.

The 18th hole provides a classic finish to the masters, with a drive threatened by trees and bunkers on the elbow of the dogleg, and a second shot uphill to a tiered green.


Card of the course


Hole # Name Par Yards Meters
1 Tea Olive 4 455 416
2 Pink Dogwood 5 575 526
3 Flowering Peach 4 350 320
4 Flowering Crab Apple 3 240 219
5 Magnolia 4 455 416
6 Juniper 3 180 165
7 Pampas 4 450 411
8 Yellow Jasmine 5 570 521
9 Carolina Cherry 4 460 421
10 Camellia 4 495 453
11 White Dogwood 4 505 462
12 Golden Bell 3 155 142
13 Azalea 5 510 466
14 Chinese Fir 4 440 402
15 Firethorn 5 530 485
16 Redbud 3 170 155
17 Nandina 4 440 402
18 Holly 4 465 425



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