Jack Nicklaus Explains the Six Hardest Shots at Augusta National

Augusta National, Masters, Jack NicklausMandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports
Augusta National, Masters, Jack NicklausMandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports /

Jack Nicklaus visited on the set of Golf Channel on Thursday before the ESPN telecast of the first round of the Masters. During the back and forth, he revealed what he thinks are the six hardest shots at Augusta National.

Apparently, many PGA Tour members have asked him over the years how to play the course. Everyone hears things like you have to play draws or you have to play fades, and of course, he has heard similar comments.

“There’s as many left to right shots on this golf course as there are right to left,” he insisted.

According to Jack Nicklaus, the tee shot on the 2nd is one of the most difficult

But he cautioned against too much left on the second hole. In fact, he said the tee shot on the second hole is one of the six hardest shots on the course.

“They have an airline booth on the left to give you a ticket home if you hit it left, because you don’t get out of there,” he explained.

Other than that, the front side, he thinks is fairly benign.  Straightforward golf, he believes.  Most of the trouble is on the back.

Now, no offense, but I’ve seen that course, and there are plenty of places to create problems for yourself if you are lucky enough to play it. If you know golf at all and just walk around it, it’s apparent that the course is really super difficult.  Of course, Jack Nicklaus plays to a different standard than 99 percent of golfers.

“Right to left is really a few shots off the tee that are to your advantage, like nine, 10 and 13, and two, maybe a little bit,” he added.

Being on the left side of nine, gives a golfer more roll to the bottom of the hill.

Similarly, there’s a “speed slot” in the fairway on 10 that catapults the drive farther down the hill, but the hole is a pretty good dogleg left, so left on that hole is a bonus.

Thirteen is framed by pine straw and trees on the right and by a creek and woods on the left.  Left is a very bad place to be.

Trending. Masters Champions Dinner: A Breakdown of Hideki’s Menu. light

But there are special dangerous shots, according to Jack Nicklaus in addition to the drive at the second hole.

“You got to play the second shot at 11.  That’s a dangerous shot,” he insisted. “You play the tee shot at 12. That’s a dangerous shot.”

Masters, Augusta National, Jack Nicklaus, Golf
Augusta National, Masters Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports /

The 13th, though, is extra difficult because both the tee shot and the second shot are fraught with peril.  So is the second shot at the 15th, that’s assuming the golfer is going for the green in two.

“I don’t think 16 is all that dangerous,” he added. “You can play away from that pretty easily.”

What he cannot fathom is why anyone would ever try to hit a draw at the 12th hole. No one ever talks about that.  Maybe it’s because they don’t want to give any good advice to the competition or because they don’t know what Jack Nicklaus knows.

He recalled 2019, when Tiger Woods won the Masters.  On the 12th, golfer after golfer came to the hole and ended up in the water or the azaleas or the sand. They all hit right to left shots, according to Nicklaus.

“You can’t play that hole right to left,” he insisted. “You play it right to left, it’s either going to get hung up by the wind or its going to be taken by the wind and gonna to be long.”

Then Woods came to the tee.

“Tiger stood up there and hit a beautiful little cut shot,” Nicklaus recalled.  He said it drifted over the center of the bunker and landed in the middle of the green. “I said, tournament’s over.”

Now, because Jack Nicklaus has won the Masters six times, most of us think that he was just always good at Augusta National, but that’s not the case. When he first played the course in 1959, he said he was invited because he had been on the Walker Cup team.

He shot 150 the first two rounds and missed the cut.

Next. Agony For Brooks Koepka, Jubilation For Others Thursday At The Masters. dark

Then he analyzed why he had missed the cut and why Arnold Palmer had shot 141 and was leading.  Nicklaus had hit 31 greens in regulation, he noted, but had eight three-putts.  Palmer had hit just 19 greens.

That’s when Nicklaus decided he better learn how to putt at Augusta National. Six green jackets later, it’s pretty clear that he figured it out.