Augusta’s 13th hole ‘a diminished challenge’

“The 13th hole still provides a lot of drama, but its challenge is being diminished. We don’t think that’s good for the Masters. We don’t think it’s good for the game. But the issue is a lot larger than Augusta National and the Masters”

Last Updated: 11/11/20 8:42pm

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Nick Dougherty takes a closer look at how the challenge of Augusta National’s par-five 13th has changed over time at The Masters
Nick Dougherty takes a closer look at how the challenge of Augusta National’s par-five 13th has changed over time at The Masters

The “diminished challenge” presented by the par-five 13th at the Masters is set to be addressed by Augusta National officials.

In his traditional Wednesday press conference, Augusta chairman Fred Ridley effectively conceded that the hole is now too short by modern standards, although no changes to the 13th will be made until after the next Masters in April.

The final hole in Augusta’s iconic “Amen Corner” has been the subject of much debate in recent years, with the technological advancements in equipment making the 515-yarder into a long par-four for most of the field.

Augusta chairman Fred Ridley believes the par-five 13th is now a 'diminished challenge'
Augusta chairman Fred Ridley believes the par-five 13th is now a ‘diminished challenge’

Speculation over the hole being lengthened intensified when Augusta National purchased land behind the tee, giving them scope to add significant yardage and return the par-five to the test of golf envisioned by Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie.

While reluctant to add even more length to a course that is 500 yards longer than it was 20 years ago, Ridley admitted that golf had “reached a crossroads” in the distance debate, fuelled by the likes of Bryson DeChambeau and the manner of his US Open victory at Winged Foot in September.

“I’ve been reluctant thus far to make any major changes regarding adding distance to the golf course,” said Ridley. “I think sometimes when you do that, there are unintended consequences that come out of that.

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“The scale and the scope of the hole, it changes when you add distance. It changes more than just adding distance. The look of the hole changes. And the design philosophy of the hole changes. And that’s something that we have always and I have always been very focused on is maintaining the design philosophy of MacKenzie and Jones.”

Ridley hinted that the 13th hole will look significantly different for the 2022 Masters, while he also insisted the issues created by increased distance of modern golfers was a problem for the sport in general, not just for Augusta.

“I think we are at a crossroads as relates to this issue,” he said. “We have always been very supportive of the governing bodies, and we will continue to be supportive. We think that it’s good that the game of golf is governed by the USGA and The R&A. We think they are great stewards of the game.

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Ridley gives his view on distance increases in golf and believes the challenge of the course’s par-five 13th is ‘diminishing’
Ridley gives his view on distance increases in golf and believes the challenge of the course’s par-five 13th is ‘diminishing’

“But I’m hopeful that with the work and the studies that have been ongoing for some time, and I understand that in April there’s to be some sort of publication of their conclusions, I do think that we’re coming closer to a call to action.

“And all I can say is that, as it relates to our golf course, we have options, and we will take the necessary action to make sure we stay relevant.

“But as it relates to the 13th hole, it still provides a lot of drama, but its challenge is being diminished. We don’t think that’s good for the Masters. We don’t think it’s good for the game. But the issue is a lot larger than Augusta National and the Masters.

Bryson DeChambeau needs only a wedge to hit the green in two
Bryson DeChambeau needs only a wedge to hit the green in two

“We have options, and we can make changes, but not every golf course can. Having said that, it’s a balance because the next question is, you don’t want to make the game harder.

“On one hand we want to say we want to grow the game, and on the other hand we’re saying we’re worried about distance. I think everybody just has got to get their head together and figure it out.”

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