GRANITEVILLE, S.C. – Prescott Butler III remembers watching Sergio Garcia make a 13 on the par-5 15th hole at Augusta National during the first round of the Masters two weeks ago.
“He made five good swings and they all went in the water,” Butler said.
On Friday at Sage Valley Golf Club, Butler could only smile and laugh after experiencing a similar fate on Sage Valley’s par-3 second hole. He put four balls in the water – one off the tee, two from the drop area and another off a chip from behind the green – and carded a 10-over 13 on the hole.
None of Butler’s shots were terrible, either. His opening tee shot, playing about 155 yards, landed near the front-right pin before spinning off the green. His first from the drop zone did the same thing. He even landed a ball on the back fringe and had it trickle into the water.
“That is probably the hardest hole on a certain day that I’ve ever experienced,” said Butler’s playing competitor, Turner Hosch, who parred the hole. “I watched Prescott make a 13 and hit every shot decently well.”
The front-right hole location, typically the toughest on the second hole, is annually used during the second round of the Junior Invitational. The pin sits just above a false front that leads right into the water and the teeing ground is some 15 yards above the green. Windy conditions on Friday, with gusts up to 25 mph in the morning, completed the perfect storm.
The tees were moved up from their listed yardage of 197 yards, which meant players were hitting short clubs – with more spin – into the difficult green.
“It played almost impossible today,” said Michael Sanders, who doubled the hole. “I stood over that shot, 150 yards, and took like four more clubs on a downhill hole and still hit it in the middle of the water. … Didn’t even touch the grass.”
Said Hosch: “You have to be so incredibly precise and there’s nowhere to miss it and nowhere to bail out.”
The scoring average for the day on No. 2 was 4.3, nearly a shot and a half over par. Hosch said that while Butler was busy hitting one of his drop-zone shots, he asked the marshal how many balls had gone in the water.
“He told me he hadn’t had a group that hadn’t had a player hit at least one ball in the water,” Hosch said. “Nine groups had played the hole before us.”
It wasn’t all carnage at the hole nicknamed “Azalea,” though – five players birdied the hole. But for the most part, Sage Valley’s famous, picturesque par-3 showed its teeth on Friday.
Luckily for Butler and company, they will have one final chance Saturday to get their revenge.