To Hootie Johnson and Augusta National:
I’m excitedly planning on attending the 2006 Masters. I can’t wait to see the world’s most beautiful golf course in person, should my “plans” work out as I hope.
I have some concerns, and a small request for you regarding your course lengthening. I completely understand why you’ve added over 500 yards to Augusta National since 1999. The equipment is better, the ball flies farther and the players are getting physically stronger every year.
When Bobby Jones built Augusta he envisioned specific clubs to be hit into certain holes. He obviously didn’t expect the long knockers of today to be able to hit short irons into par 5’s. He planned many approach shots on par 4’s to be 3 or 4-woods or long irons, but today’s players are hitting wedges. So I completely understand and endorse the lengthening of these types of holes to try to regain the club selection and shot making that the brilliant Bobby Jones envisioned.
Mr. Jones also had specific types of shots in mind for each hole. The fairways and greens slope specific directions to warrant fades from draw lies. Some greens slope opposite of the type of shot that would most commonly be hit from the fairway’s slope, requiring the player to skillfully manufacture a different ball flight than the lie would warrant. It is my hope that your course adjustments are able to bring these shot making requirements back into The Masters.
My concern and request:
The lengthening of the par 4’s and 5’s is understandable. But part of what makes Augusta National so great is it’s par 3’s. My favorite all time golf hole is #12 (pictured). The hole is so simple, but requires the best shot under pressure to put the ball in the proper location. #16 is a close second, where specific ball placement is absolutely crucial. 16 is one of the greatest theaters in golf without a doubt.
To me these are perfect golf holes. These may only be wedges or short irons for today’s players, but they are far from easy. These are not holes that the “bombers” just blast away with their drivers. These holes are “touch” holes. “Touch” seems to be a forgotten concept these days with many courses scrambling to lengthen their holes without so much as a thought about anything else.
The par 3’s at Augusta National do not need to be lengthened or tricked up. Lengthening or changing these holes will not make Augusta National a better golf course. Please do us all a favor and leave the par 3’s alone.