Klein on Design: No. 16 at Augusta

No. 16 at Augusta National Golf Club

No. 16 at Augusta National Golf Club

Bradley S. Klein, Golfweek’s architecture editor, offers his opinion on one memorable hole:

Yards: 170, par 3

Architects: Robert Tyre (“Bobby”) Jones and Robert Trent Jones Sr. (1947)

Where: Augusta, Ga., The Masters, April 8-11, 2010

Ranked: No. 9 on Golfweek’s Best Classic List

It’s great because . . . the last of the five water holes on Augusta National – all on the back nine – provides a theatrical setting for championship golf. The hole, established in its current form in 1947, embodies a distinctly modern sensibility of power, aerial shotmaking and all-or-nothing drama. In many ways, it’s a precursor of the stadium-like setting found at TPC Scottsdale’s par-3 16th hole. The genius here lies in a pond running down the left side and a concave green shaped like Africa and bunkered at 2, 5 and 10 o’clock. The traditional Sunday hole location is readily accessible by feeding the ball in from right to left down the slope. Tug it a little and water comes into play. A bold shot easily can run long and leave the delicate kind of banked chip shot that Tiger Woods famously negotiated when he last won in 2005.

It would be even better if . . . there were a little more variety in where the ball comes to rest on the green. The slightly tilted, concave green tends to be self-correcting on shots hit within the middle two-thirds of the green and makes a narrow shelf on the right all but marginal for a hole location. An iron hit just a touch to the right lands in the back-right bunker and leaves a difficult recovery shot that is downhill all the way and virtually unstoppable. The Masters doesn’t need goofy golf. If the shelf were wider and extended out a little more, there would be more risk-reward play from the tee and more intriguing options.

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