Not many clubs would be able to re-route a road, add 40 yards to a hole and some newly planted trees, soften the green and move two prominent bunkers – and then make it look as though nothing has changed from the previous year.
Welcome to Augusta’s new-look 5th hole. This is the highest point on the property and a hole which never threw up much interest other than the odd ball causing some brief havoc from the 4th tee shot or the occasional bogey.
Last year it ranked as the sixth hardest hole at 4.165, expect that to change in 2019.
Previously the two fairway bunkers were pushed 80 yards forward and later more into the fairway but now we’re going back to try and mimic the hole’s design from 1934; put the driver back in the players’ hands and push them to the right of the bunkers to give them a better sight of the green.
The hope is for more birdies and bogeys and less of the succession of pars.
It will also put the long iron back in the players’ hands. Maybe a couple of years ago Dustin Johnson signed off his season by saying the longest club he hit into a par 4 all year was a 6-iron. Now, at 495 yards and with little or no run given the soft conditions, we can expect even the world’s best to have to delve a little deeper in the bag.
“I think No. 5 is probably going to play the toughest hole now for sure. I hit driver, 4‑iron and hit a good drive. That makes it much tougher because I feel like now you’re having to maybe think about hitting a long iron and kind of running it up a bit more links style up on to that green, where the hole was just short enough before where you were always hitting a 7‑iron, 6‑iron, and always trying to land it up on the top for the most part,” explained Justin Rose.
As for course specialist Jordan Spieth, even he hasn’t quite got his head round a new strategy for the hole.
“Between there and 11, I may even consider the 5th a more difficult hole now. I would have said 11 is the toughest hole on the course prior to the new No. 5, but if you take the bunkers out of play by hitting 3‑wood, like I used to, now you’re just pushed back another 35 yards from the green, and so it’s 3‑wood, 4‑iron or hybrid, or you can try and hit driver and the bunkers are essentially a penalty stroke, and you still have a mid‑iron in. So I’m struggling a little bit right now on how to play the hole, so I’ll have to figure that out.”
The new 5th tee built on what was a road. Looks like it’s been there for 20 years, with thirty foot trees planted in place like moving pansy’s pic.twitter.com/uPVMKWbYla
— Ken Brown…⛳️ (@KenBrownGolf) April 8, 2019
As for the new bunkers Tiger Woods has already marked our card by saying that you would have to be very fortunate to have a shot to the green from either of them, whereas previously this was still possible, and he suggested that this was one hole where the men in the know might play around with moving the tees up.
For the record if you can fly the ball 313 yards, most likely into the wind, then you might be able to take on the sand.
While all the players were in agreement that the tee shot hadn’t changed much Bryson DeChambeau added his own slant that, even by going back 40 yards, it might help with the player’s timings.
“I think it’s a great move, moving the tee box away from the 4th green, that’s going to speed up play. Overall I think it’s a great design change.”
As for Johnson even he can foresee a time when his longer irons get a rare outing.
“I thought it was a hard hole before, they just made it a little bit tougher. The green is a little bit less severe, but you’re coming in with a much longer iron. I played it on Tuesday, the pin was on the front right, I hit 7‑iron in. But I played it last Wednesday and Thursday, and the pin was back both days and I hit 4‑iron both times. It was a little into the wind, and pin was all the way back right. It’s a long golf hole.”