Which hole at Augusta National is hardest?

Augusta National hosts the year's first major starting on Thursday.

Augusta National hosts the year's first major starting on Thursday.

Here’s how the holes at famed Augusta National Golf Club stand up from the (relatively) easiest to the hardest.

Not surprisingly, the par 5s are, collectively and individually, the lightest burden for Masters players. After that, it gets skewed among the par 3s and par 4s. Without doubt the hardest stretch comprises holes 10-11-12, which, in order, historically rank first, third and second, respectively, in degree of difficulty.

It might be a cliche to say that the Masters doesn’t really begin until the leaders make the turn on Sunday. But like most cliches, it happens to be true, because that’s where the real difficulty begins.

Here’s a ranking of holes, by historic scoring average, compared with last year’s results:

• • •

15th hole: Par 5, 530 yards

photo

Historic avg.: 4.79 (18th hardest)

2012 avg.: 4.66 (17th)

Drive it in the fairway and you have a clear go at this green in two. Everyone focuses on the pond in front and the steep bank of the green front that means anything short or even on the front of the green likely will roll back down into the pond. From the top of the fairway looking down upon the domed green, players also worry about hitting it long and having the ball run into a pond on the far side that’s part of the 16th hole. Given these issues, often the safe bailout is to hit a second shot into the greenside bunker on the right. If there’s any doubt about going for it, it’s a smart play here simply to lay back and leave a 90-yard pitch into the green.

• • •

13th hole: Par 5, 510 yards

photo

Historic avg.: 4.80 (17th hardest)

2012 avg.: 4.72 (16th)

Modern 3-woods that players can turn over from the tee and still hit 290 yards have taken a lot of the risk out of this hole – which is to hit it too far left and into the creek. The risk with a driver is to blow it through the corner of the dogleg left and wind up in the heavily planted pine trees on the right.

• • •

2nd hole: Par 5, 575 yards

photo

Historic avg.: 4.81 (16th hardest)

2012 avg.: 4.64 (18th)

Even with the back tee added in 1999 to “Tiger-proof” the course, the longest hitters still bomb it past the crest of the hill and down the fairway, leaving long irons into this wide-open green. The greenside bunkers actually help the player as they are virtually no risk. It’s not a criticism of the golf course, just revealing of how fearless modern world-class golfers are. It was never a hard hole; now there’s less to worry about.

• • •

8th hole: Par 5, 570 yards

photo

Historic avg.: 4.84 (15th hardest)

2012 avg.: 4.86 (15th)

A massive bunker on the right is 330 yards to carry, which steers everyone left. From there, what used to be hard to reach in two is now within reach of a good number of players, with an ideal layup to the right. Lovely mounds around the green deflect shots and make for interesting approaches into a multi-tiered green – lots of contour here but not a lot of big trouble.

• • •

3rd hole: Par 4, 350 yards

photo

Historic avg.: 4.10 (14th)

2012 avg.: 3.90 (14th)

Easily overlooked, though what used to be a standard layup now has become a risk/reward drive to an unusually elusive, deflective green. The anecdotal evidence is that laying back and coming at the hole with wedge in hand yields more birdies than bolder play off the tee with driver in hand.

• • •

6th hole: Par 3, 180 yards

photo

Historic avg.: 3.14 (13th)

2012 avg.: 3.17 (T-8th)

The challenge here off the tee is that though all the trouble appears to be on the left, missing the green on the high side right makes for a very tough, downhill-runaway recovery shot. This is a notoriously difficult green for long putting, with many attempts from the left coming up well short.

• • •

7th hole: Par 4, 450 yards

photo

Historic avg.: 4.15 (T-11th)

2012 avg.: 4.17 (T-8th)

It has become a simple hole since it got lengthened and tightened during the past decade. Just power a drive through a narrow chicane of trees, then land a perfectly struck iron from 170 yards out to a green designed for a wedge. The green is the most-elevated, most-bunkered hole on the course and the hardest to hold – especially when approached from out in the woods.

• • •

9th hole: Par 4, 460 yards

photo

Historic avg.: 4.15 (T-11th)

2012 avg.: 4.25 (4th)

It’s all in the notoriously sloped green, with three tiers and well above the player in the approach zone. Judging distance and pulling it off so that the ball finishes on the same level as the hole is a very demanding moment during the round, as Greg Norman found out in 1996 when his collapse in the final round came to a head after his approach came up short and rolled back almost to his feet.

• • •

16th hole: Par 3, 170 yards

photo

Historic avg.: 3.16 (T-9th)

2012 avg.: 3.11 (11th)

The hole is at its easiest when the Sunday pin is placed in a concave part of the left green. It’s at its toughest when the hole is way right, against the high-side bunker there.

• • •

17th hole: Par 4, 440 yards

photo

Historic avg.: 4.16 (T-9th)

2012 avg.: 4.16 (10th)

Here, too, it’s all in the green, one which rolls over deep and feeds golf balls away from the center on what appears from the fairway to be an easy approach. A fairway constricted with pines – contrary to Alister MacKenzie’s original intent on this course – has unduly narrowed the driving zone here and elsewhere and very much altered the course.

• • •

14th hole: Par 4, 440 yards

photo

Historic avg.: 4.18 (8th)

2012 avg.: 4.09 (12th)

The only unbunkered hole on the course features a green complex that from front to back, including the mounds behind, has more elevation change than all of Harbour Town Golf Links. Here’s a hole where the smart golfer feeds the ball in and, from the fairway, has to read the approach shot and rollout as if it were a long putt. Mis-read or mis-hit the approach slightly and you’re left looking foolish and with about a 10-footer for par (or worse).

• • •

18th hole: Par 4, 465 yards

photo

Historic avg.: 4.23 (T-6th)

2012 avg.: 4.31 (3rd)

Tight off the tee, and after hitting a series of draws all day you’re now asked to adjust to a slight fade. No wonder so many players block it dead right into the trees. It’s also one of those complex, multi-tiered greens where from above the hole it’s hard to stop it close to the cup.

• • •

1st hole: Par 4, 445 yards

photo

Historic avg.: 4.23 (T-6th)

2012 avg.: 4.39 (1st)

A massive bunker on the right used to be carry-able; now at 330 yards to cover, it’s not. With a deep belly to the bottom of that hazard from which reaching the green is impossible, the play is to the left – frequently way left, into the trees.

• • •

5th hole: Par 4, 455 yards

photo

Historic avg.: 4.27 (5th)

2012 avg.: 4.21 (7th)

This hole still doesn’t get a lot of TV coverage and is not particularly telegenic anyway. The real issue here is a green that falls away from the approach zone in its second half, so playing the right “weight” from the fairway is crucial. Two big looming bunkers on the left also can come into play on drives when there’s a crosswind. But again, it’s the green here – which for decades has been about the hardest at Augusta National to read because it sits just ever so slightly above natural grade and seems to defy gravity.

• • •

4th hole: Par 3, 240 yards

photo

Historic avg.: 3.29 (T-3rd)

2012 avg.: 3.22 (6th)

This hole is just (“just”) a long version of the 11th at St. Andrews. When played two days from the back tee, it’s brutal; when they move it up to the old tee at 205-210 yards, it’s more manageable. The entire shot is dominated by a massive front bunker that tends to force players to hit long or left.

• • •

11th hole: Par 4, 505 yards

photo

Historic avg.: 4.29 (T-3rd)

2012 avg.: 4.32 (2nd)

No big deal. Blind tee shot through a narrow chute. The right rough closed off by newly planted pine trees. The green protected by a pond and everything sloping that way (left).

• • •

12th hole: Par 3, 155 yards

photo

Historic avg.: 3.30 (2nd)

2012 avg.: 3.06 (13th)

It’s a testament to Augusta National’s genius that the shortest hole is so hard. It’s also the smallest green, set diagonally with the problem simple: If you hit the right distance (measured to the center of the green) and tug it, you’re long left in the bunkers with an improbable up-and-down. If you hit the correct distance and push it to the right, you never get there and are in the creek. Here’s a green with no support, no definition from the tee. It takes skill and then some, including the luck to catch it right, before the wind changes – as it always does here.

• • •

10th hole: Par 4, 495 yards

photo

Historic avg.: 4.32 (1st)

2012 avg.: 4.24 (5th)

Big sweeping dogleg left, dramatic theater at the green and a surface that does not take well to low-slung approaches. The ball has to come in perfectly high and soft, and there’s no chance of run-up to the perched surface. In look, ambiance and demands, this is one tough hole.

Welcome to Golfweek.com's comments section.
Please review the posting guidlines here: Golfweek.com Community Guidelines.
All accounts must be verified using Disqus email verification

  • PGA
  • CHMP
  • WEB
[[PGAtourn]] Full Leaderboard >
Prev
  • [[player._CurPos]]
  • [[player._Lname]], [[player._Fname]]
  • [[player._TournParRel]]
  • [[player._Thru]]
Next
[[CHMPtourn]] Full Leaderboard >
Prev
  • [[player._CurPos]]
  • [[player._Lname]], [[player._Fname]]
  • [[player._TournParRel]]
  • [[player._Thru]]
Next
[[NWIDtourn]] Full Leaderboard >
Prev
  • [[player._CurPos]]
  • [[player._Lname]], [[player._Fname]]
  • [[player._TournParRel]]
  • [[player._Thru]]
Next