Augusta considers tinkering with 13th hole

Updated: April 7, 2016

Azalea. For those who watch the Masters Tournament on an annual basis, the names of the holes, each tied to a tree or shrub, often become synonymous with particular players and moments. The 13th hole of this course is no different.

When I think of the par-5 13th (the third of the three holes known as Amen Corner), it always brings me back to the final round of the 2010 Masters Tournament. On that day, Lefty’s tee shot rocketed towards the woods to the right and landed in the pine straw. With the pin perched on a ledge just over the water some 205 yards in the distance, Phil had a decision to make.

He held a slight lead over Lee Westwood and K.J. Choi at the time, affording him the opportunity to play it safe by punching it out and taking his par. Or he could do what Phil has always done – roll the dice and go for broke, risking what remained of his lead in the process.

Lefty chose the latter of course, ultimately hitting one of the most unforgettable shots in the history of this storied tournament in route to his capturing his third green jacket. It served as a subtle reminder that nothing was out of the realm of possibility on the back nine of Augusta National and that an incredible shot can happen at anytime.

While nothing has been decided yet, the mere fact that the Masters chairman is acknowledging that there have been discussions about increasing the difficulty of this hole in the future has left me scratching my head. Azalea played as the easiest hole at Augusta National during last year’s tournament, and I completely understand from a competitive standpoint that the powers that be don’t want 13 to turn into an automatic birdie hole for the participants. Still, I believe they should strongly contemplate leaving the 13th as is, for making a noticeable change would definitely reduce some of the excitement that occurs during those four magical days.

One of the many things that makes this tournament so great is knowing that, no matter how poorly a player is performing on the front nine, there are opportunities to make birdies and eagles on the back nine. This is especially true on Sundays, as viewers wait all weekend to see who is going to make a dramatic charge up the leaderboard. For my money, there is nothing better than knowing that there are low scores to be had by players going for the green in two on 13 and 15, and fundamentally altering this dynamic could shift the mindset of the participants and ultimately the results.

Regardless of the changes that are ultimately made, the Masters will always holds a special place in the hearts and minds of golf fans. Selfishly though, I hope they keep the 13th hole as is, for you never quite know when someone is going to drive it perfectly around that famous bend (or in some cases, into the woods) and give themselves an opportunity to hit a second shot into the green and turn the trajectory of the entire tournament.





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