Sunday, 26 December 2010

13th at Augusta National

An Overview

The greatest holes in golf come from those that are “half par holes”. If I ask you to name a great short par four or reachable par five, you can probably list off at least dozen in less than a minute. Why? It is because these are the holes that we look forward to playing the most in a round. As stated before the short four provides a weaker player the chance to make a four and a strong player the opportunity to make a birdie. The short five doesn’t quite work the same way, but is looked forward to even more by many players because of the “potential” to make a chip, pitch or putt for an Eagle. No other hole in golf holds out the same hope.

The tee shot

So what makes a great short five? The short version is: when the element of risk is well balanced with the clear opportunity to score. There is nothing more pleasing than standing on a tee, or in the middle of a fairway, and weighing the risks of the next shot against the benefits of making one great swing. The short five clearly plays into or against the player’s ego, and that is where the architect must step in to take full advantage. The ego is almost every player’s greatest weakness. It often leads the player to some of the worst decisions particularly when the player is given the opportunity for glory. Most players just can’t help themselves. A short par five is a great opportunity to make the game fun for all players, but offers an equally interesting chance to really push the strong player into making bad decisions and big mistakes. Like all good ½ par holes, it becomes an equalizer through differing expectations of the players.

The landing area

The tee shot on the 13th has to be shaped from right to left to get around the corner for a chance to go for the green. The golfers who hit the ball straight can easily find themselves in the trees on the far side of the dogleg. So players must turn the ball over to find the heavily canted landing area and open up the next choice. Only a player able to control a strong draw can flirt with the creek, hard against the inside of the dogleg, to leave a flat lie and the perfect angle into the green.

A player who finds the fairway now faces one of the tougher shots in all of golf. The shot calls for a left to right approach since the creek crosses diagonally in front of the green and down the entire right side. The safe play is to the front left since there is recovery from this area, chasing any other pin becomes a gamble that you won’t find the creek. This is an important time to mention that the creek, and the potential recovery from the creek, which encourages more players to try the shot than should. The last item is the stance in the fairway. The approach is hit from a right to left lie for a majority of the play to the green, so players are trying to cut a ball from a hook lie. Even the lay-up area has the same cant which creates the risk of hitting you approach fat into the creek.

The approach shot

The genius of this hole extends right to the green itself. The swale and bunkers long means a downhill shot with the creek looming in the background – finding yourself in this position becomes a play for par. The green itself is severely sloped so that only putts are made on the two flatter areas of the green – both are tight to the creek and the shaved bank that leads into it.

The highlight of the week for Mike was the Eagle he made on Thursday, both tee shot and the approach flirted with disaster, but perfect execution lead to a 3.

Mike on the 13th at Augusta

"It’s a par-5 without tremendous length, but one that provides numerous options off the tee. Watching Jack and the guys during their time, they would try to cut the corner for position. But that’s changed as the trees have grown in and length has been added. Now you want to play it tighter up the right side of the fairway, playing away from trouble and offering a better angle into the green. You want it to just sit up on the hill – leaving you 220 yards out.

And that’s where the decision comes in – do you go for it with a long iron or a rescue club, or do I pitch it down strategically and come at the pin with a short iron? And there’s even strategy depending on where the flag is. To a back right pin, you want to lay up down the left to give more green to work with, but if the pin is on the front left, you’ll want to lay up as far as you can to the right to offer a better angle. If the pin is at the back, you’ll want to come into it with a longer club to be able to take the spin off it.

The great thing about it is that it doesn’t favour one particular player. A bomber still has to hit two great shots to hit the green, while a shorter player can also take the chance and try for the green if they hit a strong tee shot. But maybe the guy who lays up could make a four – and the player

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