It’s perhaps the most iconic par 5 in all of championship golf. It’s short and deceptively simple by professional standards, yet it remains the epitome of “risk/reward” golf due to the sharp dogleg to the left around Rae’s Creek (Jeff Maggert once made a 2, Tommy Nakajima once made a 13). Even casual Masters viewers know we’re talking about Azalea, the 13th hole at Augusta National. It is the first of two “must-birdie” holes on the back nine at the Masters. It is perhaps the most beautiful hole in golf, and one that has caused as much heartache as joy over the years as any.
But as mentioned, at only 510 yards, it is short… very short by modern professional standards; even shorter than some championship par 4s. Bubba hit a wedge in there a few years ago, and every player in the field can reach it easy in two with their average drive. Or, if you’re Phil, you can hit a 6 iron from the pine straw and knock it stiff en route to victory. But if you miss, the infamous “tributary” of Rae’s Creek awaits your slightest error.
The problem now is it seems that after even marginal drives and from not-the-best-lies can reach the green in two. So the Augusta National is thinking about making the hole longer. At Augusta, that is like saying they are GOING TO make the hole longer. Recently purchased property adjacent to that part of the course allows them to do it, too.
So our question for GolfWRX viewers is this: Good idea or bad idea?
- On the good side: “it needs to be longer to keep up with the modern equipment and golf ball.”
- On the bad side: “why mess with perfection and history? It is fine (exciting) the way it is.”
Before you weigh in, a point to consider: forget any bifurcation arguments, the Augusta National is just not going to butt heads with the USGA in creating a “Masters” ball. So let’s assume the equipment stays as is. In my opinion, here are a few possibilities:
- Make the penalty for going over the trees (the Bubba Route, but who knows how many more might soon consider it) more severe; perhaps OB?
- Add a little length to force them to use driver. Many of them now use three woods to turn it easier like they do on No. 10.
- Leave it alone. It’s the best short par-5 in major championship golf!
Do you think Augusta should lengthen the par-5 13th, or leave it alone? And why?
The 19th Hole Episode 170: Grassroots golf and Darius Rucker
Host Michael Williams talks about the benefits of grassroots golf programs in growing the game. Also features a reboot of his exclusive interview with Hootie and the Blowfish.
The Wedge Guy: Have a ‘Plan B’
One of the things that I think is very interesting and fun about this game is that there are a number of ways to play every hole you encounter. And sometimes a hole offers “better” ways to play it than you might think. Let me explain with a couple of experiences from my own golf life.
ONE. In my thirties and forties, I played at a club outside of San Antonio – Fair Oaks Ranch. The 18th hole was a tough par 4 with a very small landing area and a gaping bunker at about 175 out. The skinny fairway left of that bunker wasn’t more than 15 yards wide, and there was a little mott of trees on the green side of the bunker that you would have to carry with your mid-iron bunker approach. Tough, to say the least.
That hole drove most of us nuts, and double bogeys were more common than birdies, for sure. Par was always a great score and bogey wasn’t “bad” at all.
So, one day it hit me that if I hit 4-wood off the tee, I would have an elevated fairway look at the green from about 200-210, giving me another soft 4-wood or 3-iron to the green, and the fairway was about 40 yards wide back there. Being a good long club player, I began to play the hole that way. Doubles disappeared entirely, pars became the norm and I even made the occasional birdie. Hmm.
TWO. At my recent club, the ninth hole just didn’t fit my eye or my game. I play a fade off the tee most of the time and turning over a draw was just not reliable for me at the time. That ninth is a dogleg left, with a bunker on the right side of the fairway that runs from about 160-125 from the green, right where the prime driving area is. What makes this hole so tough for me is that the prevailing wind is left to right, and trees just 60-100 yards off the tee keep me from starting the ball out left and letting it ride the breeze. This is another one where birdies are rare for me there, and bogies and doubles way too frequent. So, it dawned on me one day, finally, that I could hit 4-wood right at that bunker and not get to it, leaving me a 5- or 6-iron into the green, rather than the short iron the rare proper drive would leave me. So, that became my new strategy on that hole. I’m a good mid-iron player, so I’m fine with that, and that damn fairway bunker never caught me again.
THREE. My new club puts a premium on accurate wedge play. Most of the shorter holes have the smallest greens I’ve ever seen, so distance control with your wedge approaches is critical. And I find that reasonably full-swing wedges are easier to control distance than those awkward 60- to 80-yard partial swings. So, I’ve learned to put a premium on club selection off the tee on those holes to leave my approach shots in the 85-115 range, so that I can “dial in” my approach shotmaking.
My point in all this is that sometimes a hole gets under your skin or just doesn’t set up well for your game. When that happens, design yourself a Plan ‘B,’ and change the way you play it, at least for a while. Quite often you will find a solution to a problem and your scores and attitude will improve.
Club Junkie: Mizuno T-22 wedge and Cuater Moneymaker shoes review!
Mizuno’s new T-22 wedges are forged from the same 1025 carbon steel with boron as the irons, giving them an extremely soft feel. Very versatile, the sole grinds allow for hitting any shot your heart desires.
The Cuater Moneymaker shoes might be some of the most comfortable I have worn in years. Tons of cushioning, exceptional traction all over the course, and they are even waterproof!
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