When Tiger Woods defends his green jacket at US Masters in April he will discover major changes to the course where he claimed his fourth successive major title earlier this year.
Almost 300 yards has been added to the 6,985 yard Augusta National course, the golf club has revealed this week, including almost 50 yards to the par-4 7th and the par-4 18th.
|Ninth hole -extended.|
Club chairman Hootie Johnson, who has overseen the changes to the original Bobby Jones/Alister Mackenzie gem, along with premier designer Tom Fazio, says: "Our objective is to keep the course current. Beginning in 1934 and through their tenure, Cliff Roberts (first chairman) and Bobby Jones made improvements to complement the changing state of the game. We have continued this philosophy."
His comments are couched in diplomacy and effectively respond to the fitness improvements of the players and new technology which has seen balls hit, further, higher and straighter.
The course, still a par 72, now measures 7,270 yards
Augusta National is very secretive about its moves to make changes, but aerial views identify major scars on the landscape where work is taking place and are far more extensive than first hinted in April.
Most significant, apart from the uprooting a re-positioning of the practice putting green to allow for the extended first and tenth tees, are the extra yards bolted on to the par-4s and par-5s by making new teeing grounds.
The course is scheduled to be ready for play when the club re-opens to its exclusive membership in October and dozens of professionals will be applying for a sneak preview in the months ahead.
Significant construction has taken place around the fairway bunkers and landing areas on holes 1, 8 and 18, to counteract the ability of modern players - and especially Tiger Woods - to fly the hazards from off the tee.
Johnson has revealed the following changes, most of which include re-grading of the grass in the landing areas):
Hole 1(now 435 yards): Tee moved back 20-25 yards, bunker extended 10-15 yards creating a carry of 300 yards.
|7th - metal wood tee-shots.|
Hole 8(570):Tee back 15-20 yards and 10 yards to the right, bringing fairway bunker (doubled in size) into play. Demands 305-yard carry.
Hole 9(460):Tee extended 25-30 yards.
Hole 10 (495): Tee extended 5-10 yards and five yards to the left, making the dogleg more acute and more demanding for the second shot on this, the longest par-4 in major championships.
Hole 11 (490): Tee moved back 30-35 yards into the pine forest and to the right. Downhill par-4.
Hole 13 (510):Tee extended 20-25 yards behind par-3 12th. Second shot from the dogleg corner more demanding.
Hole 14 (440):Tee moved back 30-35 yards.
Hole 18 (465): Tee extended 55-60 yards and to the right to make dogleg more accute. Bunkers and enlarged by ten per-cent, now 320 yards carry. Green extended for new back right pin position.
Fazio's work is based on exhaustive research of player performances on holes over the past five years. His crew charted the trajectory, shape, carry and roll of every tee shot on selected par-4s in addition to which clubs were hit into each green to help form a blueprint for restoring the playability of the holes.
Says Johnson: "I think any of us hate to see people hitting sand wedges into 425-yard par-4s." And adds that advances in technology have rendered several of Augusta's par-4s 'a little weak.'
|18th - Tiger proof.|
"The equipment is making a huge difference, and we are going to attempt, as we always have, to try to keep the golf course current with the times."
Fazio has said the intent of the project was not to change the look of any of the holes, just to make them play differently with longer approach shots into greens and more strident landing areas that reward accuracy and hinder roll.
Sealing his 2001 Masters title, Tiger Woods drove his ball around the corner at 18 to leave himself with less than 90 yards to the green. Not any more!
Pictures courtesy Augusta National
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