blogging the night away about baseball and politics

Masters Photo Essay and Course Guide

I started watching the Masters at the age of 11, having taken up the game of golf a year earlier. My first Masters was the 1979 classic in which Fuzzy Zoeller defeated Tom Watson and Ed Sneed in a playoff. Since that spring morning, I’ve watched the tournament every single year.  For the last seven, I’ve been privileged to attend one or more rounds in person, witnessing all four rounds of Adam Scott’s win in 2013, Bubba Watson’s second green jacket in 2014, Jordan Spieth’s record-setting win in 2015 and Danny Willett’s unlikely victory a year ago.

What makes the Masters so unique among major golf championships is that its the only one that is played every year on
the same golf course in Augusta, Georgia.  The U.S. Open, British Open (the Open Championship) and the PGA are allDSCN0683 rotated through several courses.  Not the Masters: it’s held every April on the same terrain, a cathedral for the old game resplendent with the greenest grass you will ever see and a visual feast of towering pines and azaleas in bloom. Like 99.9% of the golfing population, I’ve never played the course but I feel that I know it as intimately as the 9-hole course I grew up playing in Connecticut. Decades of televised drama embed our brains with eternal memories of countless dramatic moments, legends created and heartbreak felt. Seeing the tournament in person, especially on the final nine holes, a Masters fan can’t help but think of shots and putts made from previous years while watching new stories unfold.

When attending the Masters, it is as if you’re in a time warp.  Walking the course on a tournament day, you could as easily be in the year 1977 as 2017. There is not a hint of corporate sponsorship. No luxury suites, no signage, not a trace of the commercial world that we live in.

Cell phones and cameras are not permitted. Let me repeat the first part of that sentence: cell phones are not permitted. Attending the tournament is in itself a cherished gift but being able to completely unplug for several days from our hyper-connected lives is a delightful treat.

The only cameras you’ll see on tournament days are the CBS cameras and media photographers just as you would have seen 40 years ago.  The leader boards on the course and operated by hand just as they always have been.  A 20-ounce beer will run you just $4; a chicken sandwich a mere $2.50. You can buy a “regular beer” or a “light beer”, no brand names are provided.  Ditto for sodas; it’s “regular cola” or “diet cola” even though I’ll guarantee they’re serving Coca-Cola products, with headquarters only a few hours away in Atlanta. The only nod to our super-corporate world is the presence of company names and logos on the players’ shirts, hats and golf bags. Other than that, nothing. The lords of Augusta do not run the Masters for profit.

Now, the “no camera” policy only applies to tournament days.  During the practice rounds, patrons may bring their own cameras onto the grounds.  Cell phones are still prohibited but regular cameras are OK: what follows is my click-free photo essay crafted from the last several years of practice rounds. Most of these photos were taken with my own lens, some tournament photos obviously are not. Please enjoy this hole-by-hole viewing guide to Augusta National, with a little history sprinkled in.

Hole #1 — “Tea Olive”   Par 4      445 Yards


The first hole is home to one of golf’s great traditions, the ceremonial opening tee shots by non-participating former Masters champions.  For the last six years, I’ve arrived at the course during morning darkness in order to get through the gates near the front of the throng of patrons and secure a position to see three living legends open the tournament at around 7:50 AM.  For each of the last six years, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player (owners of 13 Green Jackets combined) have stepped up to the first tee, drivers in hand, and each swatted a drive down the fairway. A year ago, Palmer was too frail to swing a golf club but was on hand regardless in what was his final public appearance before passing away last fall. These three legends, The Big Three, were fierce competitors throughout the 1960’s and ’70’s while developing lifelong friendships. The 77-year-old Nicklaus and 81-year-old Player will both be on hand again this year and one expects that there will be some sort of tribute to Palmer, forever the beloved King of golf.

Below is one of my favorite photos, still available on, from 2015. This was the last time Palmer participated in the opening starters ceremony. This was the last time he swung a golf club in public with a familiar spectator smiling on the far right side of the photo.

ARNOLD PALMER (2015) (from

When the tournament begins in earnest, minutes after the legends depart, the players face what is historically the course’s fourth most difficult hole. Even the greatest players feel first hole nervousness at Augusta and it’s tough to make par on any drive into the trees on the right or the left. The once great Tiger Woods has been notorious for missing the fairway and making bogey on the opening hole.


For any player battling the first hole major tournament jitters, the hole has one of the most diabolical putting surfaces he’ll see all day. I’ve witnessed many three putts on the opening hole. One of the nice things about the 1st is that, as you can see below, a spectator can get very close to the putting surface. You’ll often be just a couple of yards from players putting or chipping from the left side or back of the green.


Historical notes:

  • In 2011, Charl Schwartzel began his unlikely journey to the Green Jacket by holing a over-100-foot chip shot from way off the green to the right, giving him an opening birdie. At the time, this was Rory McIlroy’s tournament to win but the young Irishman shot an 80.
  • In 1968, Argentinian Roberto De Vicenzo famously signed an incorrect scorecard, signing for a 66 instead of the 65 that he actually shot, costing him the chance at a playoff with Bob Goalby. The legendary gaffe was immortalized by De Vicenzo’s line, “What a stupid I am.” What is mostly lost to history is De Vicenzo’s fabulous start to the tournament, holing his 2nd shot from the fairway for a rare first hole eagle. De Vicenzo, the reigning British Open champion, birdied the 17th hole but his playing partner (Tommy Aaron) mistakenly put a 4 on the scorecard. De Vicenzo signed the incorrect card and, according to the rules, his 65 became a 66 and he finished one shot behind Goalby.

My in-person favorite moment:

  • Not counting the opening starters ceremony, which is my favorite moment of the entire tournament every year, my favorite moment at this hole was in the 2nd round of the 2016 tournament. Hot-shot rookie Bryson DeChambeau had hit his 2nd shot over the green. He was chipping from not more than 5 feet from where I was standing and holed it for birdie. In the same pairing, defending champion Jordan Spieth follwed up the chip-in with a 15-footer for birdie. DeChambeau and Spieth shared a fist-bump as they walked off the green. At this moment, the young Spieth seemed invincible. He had won the previous tournament at 18 under par and then shot a bogey-free 66 in the opening round of the 2016 event. He moved to 7 under with this first-hole 3.

Hole #2 — “Pink Dogwood”    Par 5      575 Yards

As a par 5 reachable in two shots, the second hole is easily the best birdie opportunity on the front nine of Augusta. For a mere mortal, the 2nd shot would be a blind shot but the big hitters are able to blast their drives far enough that they get a big roll down the hill, setting up approach shots to hit the green in two.

As a spectator, from the right side of the fairway, you can see the players’ approach shots. Then, with a pair of binoculars, you can see the putts.  From there, it’s a short walk through the trees to the 3rd green with a concession stand nearby. The other choice is to walk down to the back of the 2nd green, which provides a better view of the approach shots.  It’s a very short walk from there to the 7th green.





The green slopes from the players’ left to right which, when the pin is on the right side of the green, a long approach shot can funnel towards the cup. In the photo below, the pin is not as far to the right as it usually is on Sundays.


BEHIND THE 2ND GREENHistorical note:

  • In the 2012 Masters, South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen scored a double eagle on an approach shot that ran up to the green and then took the slope to the pin position behind the front right bunker. Oostie instantly went from being one shot off the lead to the leader by two. However, he only managed to play even par for the final 16 holes and wound up losing in a sudden death playoff to Bubba Watson.

Watch this amazing albatross from Oosthuizen by clicking here.

My favorite in-person moment:

  • In the final round of the the 2013 Masters, Jason Day holed out an eagle from the front right bunker to take the lead at 8 under. In a wild final round, Day wound up one shot out of the playoff between Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera.

Hole #3 — “Flowering Peach”   Par 4      350 Yards

The shortest Par 4 on the course, some players are tempted to bomb it up close to the green.  My experience though is that a 25 yard pitch on this hole isn’t much easier than a 100 yard approach shot.  As a spectator, if you stand to the right of the 3rd green, you can also see the tee shots and (with binoculars) the putts on the Par 3 fourth hole. It’s a big drop-off to the left of the 3rd green, you can’t see anything from there.

The tee box for the third is just below the 7th green, which you can see in this photo of then 66-year-old Tom Watson playing a practice round last year in preparation of his final appearance at the Masters.


As you can see here, there is a significant slope near the green. A lot of times when players try to hit the green off the tee they wind up short and left, leaving a delicate pitch shot which, again, is often more difficult than a full wedge from further back.


The front left and back right pin positions have very little green to work with. As you can see, there are several mounds around the green which can create tricky chip shots.


Historical note:

  • Again in 2011, Charl Schwartzel made history at the 3rd hole. From the center of the fairway, his approach from 114 yards shot hit the middle of the green and then curled into the cup for an eagle. It’s the only time in the history of the Masters that the eventual winner made an eagle at the 3rd in the final round.

My favorite in-person moment:

  • In the third round of the 2015 event, Tiger Woods (way behind Jordan Spieth) had a 40-yard approach and it lipped out for eagle. A couple of groups later, Phil Mickelson stuck his approach shot to a couple of feet to make birdie. Both would wind up far short on the leaderboard but the seeds of a big 3rd round “moving day” for each were planted.

 Hole #4 — “Flowering Crab Apple”   Par 3      240 Yards

This is the longest and most difficult Par 3 at Augusta.  It’s an elevated tee shot so it plays a little shorter than the posted yardage but it’s still an extremely difficult shot.  It’s a two-tiered green with narrow width and it’s very difficult to make a putt if the ball isn’t on the same tier as the flag.  If there’s a break in the action on the 3rd green, go behind the 4th tee to have a really good view of the players long tee-balls into the green.  There is a grandstand to the left of the green if you so desire but, with some binocs, you can see the putts from behind the tee while remaining close to the 3rd.



Historical note:

  • In the final round in 2012, Phil Mickelson over-clubbed and hit his ball over the green, going into the trees. After an attempt to advance the ball holding the club face upside down so he could hit it right-handed, did the same with his third shot, put his fourth in the front bunker and then got up and down for a triple bogey. Phil recovered by going three under for the final 14 holes but finished the tournament at 8 under par, two out of the Bubba Watson-Louis Oosthuizen playoff.

Favorite in-person moment:

  • In the final round of the 2014 duel between Bubba Watson and 20-year old Jordan Spieth, both players made birdies. Spieth did it by holing out from the front bunker; Bubba hit a magnificent tee shot to 4 feet from the hole and made the putt. The 4th is a very hard par 3 when playing at it’s full length but there’s no player with a game better designed for it than Watson. Nobody gets a higher trajectory with his long irons than Bubba and that’s an asset on this two-tiered narrow green.

Hole #5 — “Magnolia”    Par 4      455 Yards

I’ve seen very little action here over the five years I’ve been going to Augusta.  It’s a good hole but it’s not geographically convenient to the rest of the course and the left side of the fairway is closed to the patrons.  It’s tough to see much of anything from the tee or even the fairway but it’s another very interesting green, with multiple mounds that can yield terrorizing ten-foot putts if your ball and the flag are on the wrong side of said mound.  There are grandstands to the right of the green but you can also see the putts quite well behind the ropes on the left side. This also gives you easy access to views from the 6th and it’s a short walk to the 16th.



Historical note:

  • In 1995, then 45-year old Jack Nicklaus holed out from the fairway for eagles in both the first and third rounds. The Golden Bear finished the event 16 shots behind the winner Ben Crenshaw but gave the patrons a couple of thrills on this difficult hole.

Favorite in-person moment:

  • I wouldn’t necessarily call it a “favorite” moment but, since I’ve seen very few shots here, it’s the most memorable. In the 2nd round of the 2016 tournament, Jordan Spieth had birdied both the first and third holes to get to 8 under, this after finishing 18 under while winning in 2015. So, in 94 holes, young Jordan was a ridiculous 26 under par. The first chinks in the armor were seen here, however, when Spieth missed a four-footer for par and then the three-foot come-backer for bogey. It was a four-putt double bogey and the first indicator that the young man was indeed human.

Hole #6 — “Juniper”    Par 3    180 yards

This is a downhill-uphill Par 3.  The tee is highly elevated, but the putting surface is also elevated after a big dip which will give your calf muscles a good workout if you walk from the tee to the green. The good news is that there’s a concessions tent behind the green. On the other side of the concessions stand is the left side of the 3rd fairway. This is a popular hole with the patrons.



As you can see from this angle, there is a shelf on the top right side of the green. When the pin is located here (which it ISN’T in this photo), it’s a really tough tee shot. Anything that settles 10-to-12 feet short will such back down the hill and end up 40 to 50 feet from the hole.



Historical note:

  • In the first round of the 2004 Masters, Chris DiMarco made a hole-in-one, essentially the opening salvo in a two-year run at the Green Jacket. DiMarco finished in a tie for 6th in 2004 and famously tied with Tiger Woods after 72 holes in 2005, ultimately losing on the first playoff hole.

Favorite in-person moment:

  • In the final round in 2014, in his duel with Masters rookie Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson’s tee shot settled 12 feet behind the back right pin location. Moments later, Spieth stuck it two feet from the cup. Both players made birdie and the duel between the 2012 champion 20-year old prodigy was ON.

Hole #7 — “Pampas”    Par 4      450 Yards

This used to be a short hole that has been lengthened over the years to the 450 yards it is today. Another tricky green. On Sunday, however, when the pin is front right, the contours of the surface allow many balls to funnel towards the cup.

I really like the view of this hole from behind the green.  It offers an excellent angle to see the approach shots.  You can also see the approach shots on the 2nd hole and the drives on the 3rd and 8th.  This is another narrow green with deep bunkers in front. So this is a good spot because you have four holes of action nearby.

You can see from this shot near the green that the deep bunkers are going to see a lot of action with the fairly narrow surface beyond.


The grandstands you see behind the leader board here are for the 17th hole.




Historical note:

  • In 1937, when the hole played a mere 320 yards, Byron Nelson hit his drive onto the green and two-putted for birdie en route to the first of his two Masters championships. A 320-yard drive today is a big poke. In 1937? A prodigious feat!

Favorite in-person moment:

  • In the final round of the 2015 event, Justin Rose was in the final twosome with Jordan Spieth. His drive went into the trees on the right. His second shot hit the limb of a tree and fell far short of the green. I happened to be standing right next to his ball and witnessed his third shot, which hit the back of the green and spun back to within inches of the hole for an unconventional par, which kept him three strokes behind the eventual champion Spieth.

Hole #8 — “Yellow Jasmine”   Par 5      570 Yards

This is by far the toughest of the four par 5’s to reach in two shots but it’s yielded more than it’s fair share of birdies without the water peril of its more famous cousins on #13 and #15.  The green is a very short walk to the 1st green but otherwise not a great spectator spot. The large mounds around the green block many potential viewing angles. If you’re going to watch action at the 8th, I recommend giving your feet a break and utilizing the grandstand behind the green.

A big drive that can put the player in position to reach the green in two has two large bunkers on the right side of the fairway.


The second shot is a blind one for the players but the green is reachable in two after a big drive. There is no sand around the green but, instead, a couple of mounds on both sides, which can sometimes yield a favorable bounce onto the putting surface for a potential eagle putt.



Historical note:

  • In the 1986 classic, ultimately won by Jack Nicklaus, there are many forgotten sub-plots. One of them is that both Seve Ballesteros and Tom Kite made eagles on the long par 5. This was long before 18-hole television coverage so neither eagle was captured on tape. Seve ultimately finished two shots behind the Golden Bear, with Kite finishing just one shot away.

Favorite in-person moment:

  • Don’t really have one here. When you’re following a group, it’s the hole to skip, take a break, get a beer, get some food. I haven’t seen a lot of play here. However, I will say that it’s a great hole from which to watch a tee shot of a bomber. Bubba Watson’s 2014 victory included a prodigious drive on 8.

 Hole #9 — “Carolina Cherry”   Par 4      460 Yards

Throughout the 1980’s and early ’90’s, this was typically where the television coverage began. The green is a very short walk from the 18th green and, like the 18th, is an uphill hole. Unlike #18, which is a gradual uphill walk, the slope from the fairway to the green on #9 is severe. The hole is famous for approach shots that spin just a bit too much and fall off the front of the green, running dozens of yards back down the hill. There are no grandstands here but the natural slope offers many useful viewing angles. Because of the uphill nature of the approach shots, it’s easy to follow the ball all the way into the green.



Although it’s hard to see here, there’s a ridge splitting the front and back of the green.



Historical notes:

  • Greg Norman’s approach shot in the 1996 Masters, the one that hit the front of the green and spun back down dozens of yards into the fairway, is probably the most famous shot on this hole. It was the first symbolic moment of Norman’s final round collapse against Nick Faldo. The White Shark started the final round six shots ahead of Faldo; his bogey on nine dropped the lead to two shots. Norman fully imploded on the back nine, shooting 78 to Faldo’s 67 and the Englishman ultimately won his third Green Jacket by five strokes.
  • In 1986, Jack Nicklaus began his final major championship charge with a birdie on 9. He went on to shoot a 30 on the back nine and win his 6th and final Green Jacket by one shot.

My favorite in-person moment:

  • In 2014, Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth arrived at the 9th tee tied at at 7 under par. Watson’s approach shot settled 10 feet past the hole. Spieth’s feel a bit short and spun back down the hill into the fairway (a la Norman’s in 1996). Spieth wound up making bogey while Bubba drained the 10-footer for birdie. It was a two-shot swing which gave Watson a lead that he would never relinquish. Ultimately it was the turning point in the ’14 Masters.

 Hole #10 — “Camelia”   Par 4      495 Yards

It’s a long hole but not nearly as long as the 495 yards suggests because it’s a severely downhill fairway from the tee. Most players will hit the ball well over 300 yards, with plenty of roll. The very large bunker that you see below in the fairway is not really in play for professional players (I’ve NEVER seen a ball in there, either on TV or in person). There’s a good slope on the right side of the green for optimal viewing but the overall space is not quite sufficient for the masses that flock for a playoff hole. Since this is a dogleg left, the green can be seen by the patrons from virtually the entire fairway. From there, you can pop back to #18. If you’re watching action at the 10th green, the 14th and 17th greens are also nearby.




Approach shots that go left of the green can be in serious trouble. It’s usually a lock for a bogey. As you can see the slope is severe and trees can also get into the way. Wayward 2nd shots left of the 10th green spelled doom to Len Mattiace in his 2003 playoff against Mike Weir and to Kenny Perry in 2009 against Angel Cabrera.



Historical notes (all in sudden death playoffs):

  • In 1989, Scott Hoch and Nick Faldo were battling in a playoff.  Faldo had hit his second shot into the front right bunker, hit a mediocre bunker shot and wound up with a bogey. Hoch had a 2-footer for par to win the Masters but missed it. Faldo wound up draining a 25-footer on the 11th to win his first Green Jacket.
  • In 2012, Bubba Watson hit his famous snap-hook wedge from the trees (pictured below) to make the green and defeat Louis Oosthuizen on the second playoff hole.
  • Other Masters playoffs that ended here: Craig Stadler beating Dan Pohl in 1982, Mike Weir vanquishing Len Mattiace in 2003 and Angel Cabrera defeating Kenny Perry in 2009.  And…..

My favorite in-person moment:

  • Watching with my binoculars from the middle of the fairway in 2013, Adam Scott drained a 15-footer for birdie to win his first major championship in a thrilling 2-hole playoff over Cabrera.




  Hole #11 — “White Dogwood”    Par 4      505 Yards

This is the first of the three holes known as Amen Corner.  They’re the first three water holes on the course.  #11 is by far the most difficult; it’s historically the toughest hole on the course overall. A big pond menaces the left side of the green. Ben Hogan once famously said that if his approach shot actually landed on the putting surface, that means he had pulled it. There are always thousands of patrons to the right of the 11th. You can see the action on #12 from there and there’s a concession stand nearby.






Historical notes (all in sudden death playoffs):

  • In 1979, Fuzzy Zoeller defeated Tom Watson and Ed Sneed on the second playoff hole by holing a 15-footer for birdie. The tournament was Sneed’s to win but he bogeyed the final three holes, including a famous miss on 18 when his putt hung on the lip from just a few feet away.
  • Larry Mize broke Greg Norman’s heart by holing a 130-foot chip shot from off the right side of the green to win the 1987 Masters on the 2nd playoff hole.
  • Two years later, in 1989, Nick Faldo drained a 25-footer for birdie to defeat Scott Hoch, who had just missed the afore-mentioned two-footer on 10.
  • 12 months later, Faldo won his second consecutive Green Jacket on 11 when his competitor, the 47-year-old Raymond Floyd, dunked his second shot into the pond.

In recent years, the 11th has been removed from potential playoff holes. The players return to the 18th at the start of any sudden-death playoff, then play the 10th and, if necessary, go back to 18.

My favorite in-person moment:

  • In 2015’s final round, Jordan Spieth teed off into the trees and his second shot wound up in Larry Mize territory, far right of the green. He didn’t hole it as Mize did but chipped it up to 2 feet to save par and retain his multiple-stroke lead at 18 under.

 Hole #12 — “Golden Bell”   Par 3    155 Yards

Certainly this is the most famous hole on Amen Corner.  It’s a short shot over Rae’s Creek to an extraordinarily narrow green. Because the players are lofting short irons high into the air, a quick gust of wind can turn a birdie putt into a water ball. The viewing angle to the right of the 11th green is easily the most popular on the course because it’s the only way to watch the action on the famous 12th. There’s no space around the green for patrons so the players are by themselves with the nearest gallery members 100 yards away. This and the 13th green are easily the most well-known picturesque images at Augusta because of the water and the azaleas.





Historical notes:

  • There are a lot of big ones here but the one that is freshest in the brain is Jordan Spieth’s quadruple-bogey 7 in the final round a year ago, ultimately dooming his chances at a second straight win. His tee shot was surprising, coming up short right and bouncing back into Rae’s Creek. His 3rd shot was shocking, an amateurish chunk that

My favorite in-person moment:

  • In my first ever visit to the tournament (in 2010), Fred Couples made a 15-footer for birdie in the first round and, at the age of 50, wound up leading with an opening round 66.

 Hole #13 — “Azalea”    Par 5      510 Yards

With Rae’s Creek running up the left side of the fairway and in front of the green, this is the first of the two risk-reward Par 5’s on the back nine. It’s a place where an eagle can jump-start a Sunday charge or a ball in the creek can result in a bogey. It’s a sloping green from back-to-front, which once resulted in Tiger Woods putting the ball off the green and into the creek. This hole is called “Azalea” because there are more flowers on this hole than any other on the course. There are multiple good spots to watch the action here on the entire right side of the hole. Like #10, because it’s a dogleg left, you can see the action on the green from virtually the entire fairway.  As you can see, you can’t get really close to this green either; there are grandstands just out of view on the right side of this photo which also affords a good views of the tee shots on #14 with another concessions stand right behind it.






Historical notes:

  • Probably the most famous shot on 13 in recent memory was Phil Mickelson’s 2nd effort from the the trees in the final round of 2010, with a small gap to shoot through. Phil threaded the needle and his ball settled a mere four feet from the hole. Many people forget that Mickelson missed the short eagle putt but the approach shot was an integral part of the tapestry of his victory.

My favorite in-person moment:

  • Again, my first Masters was in 2010. Seeing action at the famous 13th was almost surreal. As I watched with a big grin on my face, Mickelson made a long putt for eagle. Little did I know at the time that he would wind up with his third Green Jacket by weekend’s end.

Hole #14 — “Chinese Fir”    Par 4      440 Yards

The one no-water hole within a span of five others, this is the only hole at Augusta without any bunkers.  The hole has no natural hazards but the green is a hazard; it has more undulations on than any other. It’s not an easy hole. When watching the Masters in person, it’s an easy one to skip. While the 11th, 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th greens are all at the lowest level of the course, #14 goes back uphill.  It’s close geographically to the 17th green, 10th green and 11th fairway. Still, with so many players on the course at once, it’s much easier to bounce from the 13th green to the 15th rather than go up and down the hill on #14. You can see the 13th green far in the background, down the hill, in this photo.



Historical notes:

  • In the third round of his 2010 win, Mickelson holed his second shot from about 140 yards away for an eagle, his second in a row (having made one on 13), another key moment in his pursuit of Jacket #3.

My favorite in-person moment:

  • Sensing a Mickelson theme here? I don’t watch a lot of action at 14 because it’s a really short walk from the 13th to the 15th greens but I was following Phil hole-to-hole in the first round of 2010 and he backed up his long eagle putt on 13 with a long birdie putt on 14.

Hole #15 — “Firethorn”    Par 5      530 Yards

This is the last of the par fives and certainly the most famous. Like 13, it’s an eagle or a bogey (or worse) hole but a little more difficult. Anyone who has watched the Masters over the years has seen many balls hit the green, only to spin back down the slope into the water fronting the green. The most well-known place to watch the action on #15 is in the grandstands either to the left of the green (pictured below) or next to the adjoining 16th tee. On the hill in the background is an angle where patrons can see the approach shots to 15, plus putts on both the 15th and 16th holes.



In the 1935 Masters, the second one ever played, Gene Sarazen made a double eagle on the 15th, which helped him to an 18-hole playoff against Craig Wood, which he went on to win. The bridge below is named in his honor.



As you can see by the slope, a ball that hits the front of the green with any backspin will likely spin back into the water hazard.




Historical notes:

  • The afore-mentioned Sarazen double eagle in the final round in 1935 is arguably the greatest shot in the history of the event. It allowed him to make it into the playoff from which he would prevail in just the second Masters ever.
  • The great comeback by Jack Nicklaus turned from a long-shot fantasy into a possible reality when his 3-iron approach shot settled about 15 feet from the hole. He famously asked his son Jackie Jr. (who was his caddie) “how far do you think a three will go here?” Jackie Jr. thought his father was referring to a 3-iron but the Golden Bear meant “three” as in “eagle.” Nicklaus drained the putt and pulled from 4 behind to just 2 behind then-leader Seve Ballesteros.

My favorite in-person moment:

  • An easy one. This was a comeback that would not be completed, but Mickelson delighted yours truly and the crowd in the final round in 2015 when he holed out from the front bunker for an eagle as he desperately tried to come back against Jordan Spieth.

 Hole #16 — “Redbud”    Par 3      170 Yards

The final par 3 on the course has been the source of countless dramatic moments in the history of the Masters. Think Nicklaus in 1975 and 1986 and Tiger’s chip-in birdie on his way to his last title in 2005. Traditionally on Sundays the pin will be set on the back left side, where balls funnel off the ridge right towards the hole. Hole in ones are not uncommon on Sunday. Last year there were THREE of them.

The 16th is a hole with such a large viewing area that it looks like it should have been designed by Pete Dye (the architect of the “stadium golf” concept at the Tournament Players’ courses around the U.S.). If you buy a Masters folding chair, this is where I would place it (on the slope, put it high enough that you can see the putts on #15). People are very respectful here. If you put your chair down (with your name identifying it on the back), people won’t sit in it until you return.







Historical notes:

  • Tiger Woods’ impossible chip from the back of the green in the final round in 2005 hung on the lip for what seemed like a full minute. When the ball dropped into the cup, Tiger gave us a reaction usually reserved for tournament wins. Ironic that he bogeyed the 17th and 18th holes and was forced to defeat Chris DiMarco in a playoff.
  • In 1986, Nicklaus followed his eagle at 15 with a tee shot to within four feet of the cup at 16, leading to a birdie that put him just one stroke behind Ballesteros. Nicklaus owned the 16th over the years. His 40-foot uphill birdie putt in the last round in 1975 was the decisive blow in his fifth Masters’ title.
  • Gary Player made a long downhill birdie putt in the final round in 1978, the 8th of his 9 birdies on the day which helped him to a final round 64 and the greatest final round comeback in tournament history. Player had started the round seven shots behind leader Hubert Green and wound up earning his 3rd Green Jacket by a single stroke over Green, Tom Watson and Rod Funseth.

My favorite in-person moment:

  • No question about this one: it was the birdie putt by Danny Willett in the 2016 final round. Remember, when you’re watching on the course, you don’t have the benefit of knowing what’s happening stroke by stroke on other holes. When Willett and playing partner Lee Westwood arrived at the tee, Willett was at 4 under par, one stroke behind leader Jordan Spieth, who had bogeyed the 10th and 11th holes to shrink his seemingly insurmountable lead. Westwood, a perennial bridesmaid at Augusta, was at 3 under after a chip-in eagle at 15. He teed off first and his ball fell 40 feet short. Willett followed with a brilliant shot to just 6 feet away. Moments later, the scoreboard showed that Spieth had gone from 5 under to 1 under due to his quadruple bogey 7 at the 12th. All of a sudden, Willett and Westwood were the leaders. Westwood three-putted for bogey. Willett nailed the birdie putt to get to 5 under and in a matter of minutes had gone from being in 2nd place to having a 3-stroke lead. He would of course go on to win the tournament.

 Hole #17 — “Nandina”    Par 4      440 Yards

The penultimate hole was for years site of the famous “Eisenhower Tree,” a towering pine on the left side of the fairway that caught many a drive of the Augusta National member and former president Dwight Eisenhower. Ike lobbied to have the tree removed but was rebuffed by club leadership. Sadly, in the winter of 2014 the tree was damaged by an ice storm and had to be removed. The hole is more difficult than it looks; I’ve seen many a player fail to get the ball up and down when they miss the green. There is a grandstand to the left of the green but you can also see the action from behind it (which is then a short walk to the 10th or 14th greens).

The drive goes through a narrow chute, not really a problem for the pros.








Historical notes:

  • By far the most famous (pictured above) event at the 17th hole was when Jack Nicklaus made a 20-footer for birdie to take the lead for the first time in the 1986 Masters. The improbable come-from-behind victory by the 46-year-old Golden Bear was sealed by this classic moment, immortalized by CBS’ Verne Lundquist’s simple call: “Maybe, Yes Sir!!!” Nicklaus went on to par the 18th hole. What’s forgotten is that this first of Greg Norman’s many heartbreaks. The White Shark, who was leading the tournament after three rounds, also birdied the 17th (his fourth in a row) but bogeyed the 18th hole to miss a sudden-death playoff with Nicklaus by just one shot.

My favorite in-person moment:

  • I don’t see a whole lot of action at 17, usually skipping ahead to the 18th to get a better view. In the final round in 2014, Bubba Watson had a three-shot lead over Jordan Spieth and the tournament essentially ended here when Bubba made a slippery downhill putt for par, held his lead and won his second Green Jacket.

 Hole #18 — “Holly”    Par 4      465 Yards

There is no greater walk in golf for a former or hopeful champion than the walk up the 18th fairway. It’s an intimate amphitheater at the green, not a tremendous amount of prime viewing area. The tee shot, like the one at 17, is through a narrow chute but, again, it’s not really a problem for the professional player. The hole has been lengthened many times to its current length, putting the left fairway bunkers in play for those who decide to pull out a driver.





The 18th has a two-tiered green. Any putt from one tier to the other (up or down) is a tricky two-putt. On Sundays, the pin is typically placed on the front left side of the green.






Historical notes:

  • Too many to list of course, but let’s start with Phil Mickelson’s 15-foot downhill birdie putt to win the 2004 Masters. As you can see, Phil was rather excited about that putt and the patrons behind him shared in that euphoria. It doesn’t happen often that a player wins the Masters by making birdie on the last hole (with the alternative being a playoff). Mark O’Meara did it in 1998, Sandy Lyle did it in 1988, and Arnold Palmer did it in 1960.

My favorite in-person moments:

  • By far my favorite moment (of a great many) at 18 was in 2013 when, in a driving rain with water dripping off the top of my poncho, Adam Scott drilled a 20-footer for birdie to temporarily take the lead in the final round. This was followed up by Angel Cabrera nailing his approach shot to within 3 feet, setting up a matching birdie and a sudden-death playoff (which Scott would win). With my height as a neat advantage, I had a great unobstructed view of both 18-hole birdies.



Strong honorable mention for 18th hole memories to Tom Watson. In 2010, my first visit to Augusta, I was eager to see the then-60-year old Watson. The previous summer he had very nearly won the British Open at the age of 59, which would have made him the first AARP-eligible major champion. Watson was my favorite player when I was a kid playing golf. To see him as a 40-something adult competing at an elite level was special, something unique to golf. Anyway, in 2010, I watched a few of Watson’s holes and made a point to see him on the 18th. His second shot took the slope in the middle of the green and settled about five feet from the pin on the front right of the green. Watson made the birdie putt to complete a round of 67, which was just one off the first-round pace set by fellow 50-something Fred Couples.

Six years later, Watson walked up the 18th fairway for the final time and it was a pleasure to be there cheering him on. His approach shot had finished on the back of the green and he had a long, severely breaking 50-foot downhill left to right putt for birdie. He nearly made it. My favorite player in 1979 walked off the 18th green at Augusta for the last time in 2016.


Thanks for reading.

Chris Bodig


Updated: May 15, 2017 — 10:37 pm

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