By joe jones on 4/4/13
As long as oobers like Joseph Jones submit well written guest columns, we're going to keep publishing them.
Augusta National has a reputation of being a bombers golf course and while that may be true it is not the only skill that is required to win. In many ways the challenge at The Masters also requires a player to be a great ball striker, a great putter and most of all a player that can think his way around the course. That is why young players always try to play practice rounds with past champions. They obviously can play or they wouldn't be in the field but they must learn not only where to hit the ball but more importantly where not to. That comes with experience.
In 1996 when Nick Faldo came from behind to catch and pass Greg Norman he won by averaging 267 yards off the tee. Norman averaged 291. Norman was at that time the longest and straightest driver in the game. Faldo used his shortness to advantage by hitting first on almost every approach which put pressure on Norman. Greg was unable to stand up to the stress. The common wisdom about The Masters is that the tournament is won or lost at the Amen Corner on Sunday. I would like to include holes 9 and 10 as part of the equation.
When hitting their approach to number nine Faldo hit a dead hand 8-iron to the middle of the green. Norman hit a wedge 20 feet behind the pin which spun off the front and rolled down the slope almost to his feet. He was leading at that point but this was the start of his downfall. He never was able to recover from what he felt was a perfect shot.
In 1997 Tiger Woods set a new course record of 18-under-par 270 while averaging 294 yards off the tee. He regularly reached the par fives with 8- and 9-irons and wedges. It caused Masters officials to undertake a program to Tiger proof the course. They installed trees to cutoff existing driving lanes. They started a practice of mowing fairways from green to tee which reduced run out in the fairways. They put in pine straw in some of the par fives to make recovery shots more difficult and they lengthened the course by 140 yards. The next year the Masters was won by Mark O'Meara with a driving average of 279 yards.
Short hitters have had great success at Augusta. In 1999 the Masters was won by Jose Maria Olazabal with a paltry 240-yard average. In 1995 Ben Crenshaw won averaging 259 yards. In 2007 Zach Johnson averaged 265 while never going for a single par five in two. Johnson won despite the fact that he laid up on every par five. He relied on tremendous ball striking and a knowledge of how to play the course.
The greens at Augusta are very fast but no more so than many of the course that are played on the PGA tour. Tho green speeds are not officially released but common knowledge suggests that they read in the 12 to 12.5 Stimpmeter range. Augusta's greens present a problem because there are very few flat spots and the contours are so extreme that it is almost impossible to leave yourself an easy putt. Each green has it's own swales and humps that can only be learned with experience. There are many holes where you can hit what appears to be a perfect approach only to watch the ball wind up 25 to 30 feet away.
Here are a few examples of the difficulty the greens can present.
Augusta National is not only one of the most beautiful courses in the world but is a masterpiece of design. This course identifies who the great players are and also reveals players weaknesses and faults. The ability to think oneself around a course is imperative for success at The Masters.
This was written by Joseph Jones, a reader/follower/fellow oober and the opinions are 100% his and do not reflect those of oobgolf in anyway. Enjoy! I'm sure he's ready for your feedback.
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Image via Flickr, Steven Snodgrass
[ comments ]
Even with HD and 3D TV, it does not do justice to the greens when you see them in person! When I went last year, I marveled at the slopes and contours that I never saw on television!!! It truly is an amazing place.
Nicely written, Joeseph, thanks
Cool stuff! Thanks Joe; I hardly ever watch the game, so this will help!
joe jones says:
The pre tournament coverage on The Golf Channel could be using my column as a script. Many of the experts, especially previous winners have pointed out the problem with playing approach shots to the correct area of the green in order to leave yourself a make able putt.The only thing I left out of my article (tho it was in my notes) was the fact that many of the holes require longer irons than they did a few years ago.Hitting small greens that were originally designed to receive a 8 or 9 iron become almost impossible when you are hitting a mid iron. I will watch with great interest to see if some of the holes I described live up to my descriptions.
joe jones says:
The first day consensus is that the greens are more receptive and a little slower than in the past. They are expecting overnight rains with winds tomorrow afternoon. Augusta has the ability to speed up the greens and suck the moisture out of them overnight. It wouldn,t suprise me if they implement this strategy after some of the comments that Phil Mickelson made today. Of course that may be what Phil intended.Great putters love fast greens.
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