A tour of the fabled Augusta back nine
The Augusta National back nine is where magic can happen. It’s where the Masters will be won and lost on Sunday evening. The experts at nationalclubgolfer.com reveal the secrets of one of golf’s most famous stretches of holes
The Masters, famously, does not ‘get going’ until the back nine. It’s a cliché, but, like all the best clichés, it’s also true. Somehow it seems Augusta caters for drama and big swings in momentum better than most. Two reachable par 5s in the last six holes are certainly a big factor, and another is that water plays a part in five of the last nine holes.
For a couple of years, the roars became mumbles, but over recent years the excitement has returned with the last two Masters going down to the wire.
We take a tour of the back nine, noting famous meltdowns, surprising facts and incredible deeds.
Augusta National Back Nine
Par 4, 495 yards
The meltdown: Greg Norman never won the Masters. In 1986, when Jack Nicklaus won, Norman hooked his tee shot only to see it bounce back onto the fairway. But he then also hooked his approach, played a restricted chip into a bunker and made a six. He missed the play-off by one.
Did you know? For one year it was the 1st and Ralph Stonehouse struck the first blow in 1934
Best known for: Ben Crenshaw’s enormous putt en route to his win in 1984
11th, White Dogwood
Par 4, 505 yards
The meltdown: Ben Hogan famously once said: “If you ever see me on the 11th green in two, you’ll know I missed my second shot.”
In 1954 he heard a roar from ahead and, thinking Billy Joe Patton had done something spectacular at the 13th, went for the pin.
He ended up wet, made six and lost a play-off to Sam Snead. The roar was for Patton who looked like he was going to play out of Rae’s Creek before thinking better of it.
Did you know? It used to be a bland pitch and a putt before being remodelled and lengthened by 90 yards
Best known for: Nick Faldo winning two consecutive play-offs
12th, Golden Bell
Par 3, 155 yards
The meltdown: Payne Stewart was only two adrift when he found Rae’s Creek from the back bunker, spun his next shot from the tee side of the water back into the water and played his sixth into the bunker. He chipped on and two-putted for a nine.
Did you know? Only two players have put their tee shots in the water and gone on to win – Seve in 1980 and Sandy Lyle in 1988
Best known for: Fred Couples’ ball holding up on the bank in 1992
Par 5, 510 yards
The meltdown: After opening with an 80 Curtis Strange led by three in 1985. He then hit a 4 wood into the creek from where he played his next shot, with his waterproofs on, but came up short.
His eventually signed for a six. He also bogeyed 15 and finished two short of Langer.
Did you know? This was the first hole that Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie designed
Best known for: Phil Mickelson’s 6-iron off the pine needles in 2010.
In 1946 Ben Hogan needed a birdie to edge past Herman Keiser. His approach finished 12 feet away but his putt was a poor one.
14th Chinese Fir
Par 4, 440 yards
The meltdown: Gary McCord described it as a ‘green surrounded by grass’. What it does have are enormous slopes and hollows.
Tom Watson once four-putted here and Tom Weiskopf, challenging on the Saturday in 1977, left his 75-foot putt 60 feet short. He then had to make a three-footer for a six.
Did you know? This is the only hole at Augusta without a bunker
Best known for: Mickelson holing an approach in 2010, the first of back-to-back eagles
Par 5, 530 yards
The meltdown: Mike ‘Radar’ Reid was tied for the lead in 1989 when he laid up. Reid’s 45-yard pitch ended up wet and he finished the tournament three shots shy of Nick Faldo and Scott Hoch.
Did you know? In 1961 Clifford Roberts had mounds removed from behind the green to increase the chances of overhit approaches running into the back pond
Best known for: Gene Sarazen’s albatross two in 1935: ‘the shot heard around the world’
Par 3, 170 yards
The meltdown: Corey Pavin could have put the pressure on in 1986 but, for the second day running, put his tee shot into the water. Both days he had just eagled the 15th. The American said later that was the ‘biggest choke’ in his career.
Did you know? The tee used to be to located to the right of the 15th green
Best known for: Tiger chipping in from behind the green en route to his win in 2005
Par 4, 440 yards
The meltdown: Ben Crenshaw might have three Green Jackets if he had listened to his experienced caddy in 1987. Carl Jackson pleaded to hit wedge but the American hit a ‘soft 9’ which was too much. A bogey meant he missed the Ballesteros-Mize-Norman play-off by a shot.
Did you know? Roberto De Vicenzo made a birdie in 1968, Tommy Aaron put down a par and De Vicenzo missed the play-off
Best known for: Jack Nicklaus’s birdie putt in 1986: ’Yes sir!’
Par 4, 465 yards
The meltdown: In 1946 Ben Hogan needed a birdie to edge past Herman Keiser. His approach finished 12 feet past but his putt was a poor one. He was still three feet away but he missed to give Keiser the first post-war Masters.
Did you know? This is one of only two holes at Augusta that doglegs to the right. The 1st is the other
Best known for: Where to start? How about Sandy Lyle’s birdie from the fairway bunker in 1988, which will never be forgotten.