Augusta National Golf Club - Course Guide

Augusta National Golf Club

This is where God hangs out.

Any poll asking players and fans to name the greatest golf course in the world will always have Augusta National fighting for top spot. Perfection is the name of the game at the famous layout in Georgia which stages The Masters each year, the spectacular scenery and vivid colours taking the breath away.

Holes such as ‘Magnolia’, ‘Yellow Jasmine’ and ‘Azalea’ dominate the landscape but while naming Augusta National’s 1-18 after flowers seems a neat idea, the real reason for the floral theme is due to a connection with the course’s past. The land purchased by the club’s founders, Bobby Jones and Clifford Jones, was formerly a plant nursery, sparking the idea to name each hole after flowering shrubs or trees.

The course opened in 1932 and the first Masters was played two years later, with Horton Smith shooting 4-under to win by two strokes.

Masters Traditions

The Masters is also synonymous with several traditions, making it stand out from the crowd:

The green jacket: The green sports coat with the club’s yellow logo on the left breast is worn by every member during tournament week. Famously, it’s now handed to the new champion by the previous year’s winner, the green jacket first being awarded to Sam Snead in 1949.

It has to be handed back the following year, unless of course you win it again, something achieved by just four players: Jack Nicklaus (1965-1966), Nick Faldo (1989-1990) and Tiger Woods (2001-2002).

The par-3 contest: First played in 1960, it takes place the day before the tournament itself on a special par-3 course situated next to Augusta National. Famously, no player has ever won the par-3 and gone on to win the Masters in the same week.

Butler Cabin: This is where the green jacket ceremony takes place. It’s located near to the 18th hole.

Patrons: Not “fans” or “spectators”, TV commentators are instructed to say “patrons”. Oh, said “patrons” are not allowed to run and there is a strict ban on mobile phones.

Cheap food: With the aim to provide the best customer experience at any sporting event, patrons are able to buy food at on-course stalls at subsided prices, the most famous offering the pimento cheese sandwich.

Caddies: Until 1983, players had to use a local caddie during Masters week. One tradition remains though: caddies still have to wear the same uniform of green hat and white jumpsuit.

Former winners: Past champions are treated with reverence and get a lifetime invitation to compete in the tournament.

Champions Dinner: A special event for all the previous winners and the defending champion gets to choose the menu. Famous servings include Nick Faldo’s fish and chips in 1997 and Tiger Woods’ cheeseburgers the following year.

Augusta National Facts

Par: 72
Yardage: 7,475 yards
Augusta course designers: Alister MacKenzie and Bobby Jones
Augusta course record: 63 (Nick Price 1986, Greg Norman 1996)
Lowest winning score: 270 (-18) Tiger Woods 1997, Jordan Spieth 2015
Elevation: 160-310 feet

Augusta Course Guide

As the players make the famous drive up Magnolia Lane, they know they’re heading to somewhere very special. Augusta National, with its carpet-like fairways, beautifully manicured greens, towering trees and pine straw, is deeply ingrained into every golf fan’s mind.

The familiarity comes with it being the only one of the four majors held at the same course each year. TV viewers, and those lucky enough to get tickets, all have their favourite holes but some stand out, not just for their beauty but how important they are in shaping the outcome of the tournament.

Key Holes

Hole 2 (Ping Dogwood) – Par 5, 575 yards: If players can get through the tough opening par 4, this is the chance to get into red figures with birdie and sometimes eagle. Avoiding the bunker down the right off the tee is vital and the key shot is the downhill second played to a wide but narrow green guarded by sand.

Hole 12 (Golden Bell) – Par 3, 155 yards: It looks innocuous on the scorecard but this stunning par 3 has claws as players have to cope with swirling winds and water in front of a narrow green.

It’s led to much heartbreak down the years and is the second part of the three-hole Amen Corner, coined by Herbert Warren Wind in a 1958 issue of Sports Illustrated. “At the farthest reach of the Augusta National course, down in the Amen Corner where Rae’s Creek intersects the 13th fairway near the tee, then parallels the front edge of the green on the short 12th and finally swirls alongside the 11th green.”

Hole 13 (Azalea) – Par 5, 510 yards: The first of the two back-nine par 5s and it’s a chance to go on the attack after the tough 11th and 12th. The hole doglegs left off the tee although the longer hitters can cut the corner and leave a shortish iron in. Rae’s Creek guards the front of the green and bunkers lurk behind. A good approach, though, and this can be an eagle chance.

Hole 16 (Rosebud) – Par 3, 170 yards: The placement of the flag presents different tests each day but the Sunday position is always in a bowl, offering the chance of a hole-in-one. It’s witnessed 22 aces since 2011 and was also the scene of Tiger’s dramatic chip-in when he took victory in the 2005 Masters. If tee shots land on the wrong tier, this can be a bogey hole and a momentum killer.

What the Pros Say

Tiger Woods (after his 2019 win): “The whole tournament has meant so much to me over the years. Coming here in ’95 for the first time, and being able to play as an amateur; winning in ’97 (by a record 12 shots), and then come full circle, 22 years later, to be able to do it again.”

Jack Nicklaus: “The Masters and Augusta National are and always have been very special to me. From the first time I drove up Magnolia Lane at age 19, I had a special feeling about Augusta. Even today, I get chills driving up Magnolia Lane.”

Rory McIlroy: “In the first couple of years I played the Masters, I was in awe of the golf course and in awe of the place. I was sometimes scared to take a divot because the place looked so good.”

Mac O’Grady: “This is where God hangs out.”

Gary Player: “Every shot is within a fraction of disaster – that’s what makes it so great.”

Most Masters Wins

Golfer Masters Wins
Jack Nicklaus 6
Tiger Woods 5
Arnold Palmer 4
Jimmy Demaret, Sam Snead, Gary Player, Nick Faldo, Phil Mickelson 3

Last 10 Masters Winners

Year Winner Country To Par
2019 Tiger Woods United States -13
2018 Patrick Reed United States -15
2017 Sergio Garcia Spain -9
2016 Danny Willett England -5
2015 Jordan Spieth United States -18
2014 Bubba Watson United States -8
2013 Adam Scott Australia -9
2012 Bubba Watson United States -10
2011 Charl Schwartzel South Africa -14
2010 Phil Mickelson United States -16

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