Augusta National: How the Par-5 13th Hole Should Be Changed


Augusta National has a simple way to keep the integrity of the 13th hole.

Augusta National, home of The Masters, is looking at a proposal to extend the par-5 13th hole by some 50 yards. It’s an interesting, if flawed, plan that cannot happen without the help of the neighboring Augusta Country Club.

The rumored settled cost to Augusta National Golf Club of the acquiring the land from Augusta Country Club that’s needed for the 50 yard extension is $27 million. This may be one of the more expensive real estate deals in golf. Do the math. That’s about $540,000 per yard!

There has been no indication yet when or if this deal will happen. So the real question now becomes how will it affect the hole?

The always outspoken Billy Horschel offered his opinion.

There is no question the hole will play significantly more difficult. Moving the tees back 50 yards will make it a challenge to get the ball far enough up the fairway to even be able to see the green. This means a lot more laying up. Is more layups really what we want to see?

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From this fan’s point-of-view, the beauty of the Augusta National 13th hole is that we can see such a wide range of scores. We can see eagles and we can see double bogeys. This hole defines a risk/reward hole. Players feel more inclined to attack the green in two because they will typically have an iron in hand. The dramatic side hill lie is the biggest defense of this hole. It is what makes you hold your breath on the second shot. It is the greatest par-5 in all of golf.

Augusta National
Apr 12, 2015; Augusta, GA, USA; Jordan Spieth plays a shot from the fairway of the 13th hole during the final round of The Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports /

So you might wonder why they would decide to touch this hole then. You can thank the equipment changes for that. The biggest hitters nowadays can launch their drives over the trees on the left and cut off a huge chunk of this hole.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson hit wedges into this par-5. That is not how the hole was designed to be played.

I believe there is a middle ground that can keep the 13th as an extremely volatile hole, while also making longer hitters play the hole as it was designed. Instead of moving the tees back 50 yards, why don’t we just move them back 15 yards. Most players in the field will hit 3-wood off this tee anyway to stay short of the trees on the right. Now you just make people hit a driver and your in the same position you would have been before.

With the tee moved back 15 yards, now you create a situation in which the angle in which the ball comes down will not clear the over hanging branches of the trees. It forces the longer hitters to play the hole like everybody else. Should all players hit a quality tee shot, they should still have anywhere from a mid-iron to fairway metal for their second.

By moving the hole back 15 yards it will play even better than it does now. If we choose to move the tees back a whopping 50 yards, you will completely destroy the best par-5 in the world. It will play nothing like what Bobby Jones, Clifford Roberts, and Alister McKenzie had designed it to play. The hole will lose it’s mystique of being a place where you can climb up the leaderboard on Sunday with and eagle, or fall out of the tournament with a double bogey.

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The answer is just simpler than a lot of people are making it. I hope Augusta National rethinks this proposal.