Masters 2012: Dissecting the 6 Most Important Holes at Augusta

Fred Altvater@@tolohgolfrContributor IIApril 4, 2012

Masters 2012: Dissecting the 6 Most Important Holes at Augusta

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    Golf fans are very familiar with the par-three 12th at Augusta National.  It sits precariously on the banks of Rae's Creek. 

    A player cannot afford to be short here.  Any ball not reaching the back two-thirds of the green is in danger of rolling back down the shaved bank and into the creek.

    The green slopes severely down to the front, and even a putt struck too firmly is in danger of running off the front and into Rae's Creek.

    Although it is the shortest hole on the golf course at 155 yards, it plays the second toughest to an average of 3.3 shots per player.

    The middle hole in "Amen Corner" is subject to the swirling winds and presents a small margin of error for a golfer. 

    Especially when tensions are high and the green jacket is on the line on Sunday afternoon.

Hole No. 3: Flowering Peach

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    Hole No. 3 at Augusta National is normally not given much attention.  I find it to be a very intriguing hole and one of the key holes on the entire course.

    Bobby Jones and Dr. Alistair McKenzie both believed that one of the key components of any good golf hole was the options that it presented to the professional and amateur golfer alike.

    No. 3 offers a variety of options and routes available to navigate this true gem of a short par-four.

    The hole plays slightly uphill and can be reached by the longest of hitters.  Gary Woodland, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson may have a go at it during the tournament.

    There are also two other routes that can yield birdies.

    Players can drive over the collection of bunkers on the left side of the fairway to a section of fairway that will give a perfect line for the second shot of approximately 30 yards onto the green.

    This line is especially attractive if the pin is placed on the little knob at the green's highest point on the extreme right side of the green. 

    The third option is to lay well back behind the bunkers that will give the player a full wedge shot into the green.  When the pin is on the left side of the green, this may be the smart play.

    Flowering Peach is the 14th-easiest hole on the golf course. 

    If a player comes away with par or more, he has lost valuable shots to the field.

Hole No. 4: Flowering Crabapple

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    Players walk off one of the easiest holes at Augusta National and then must face one of the more difficult holes the long treacherous par-three No. 4.

    This hole was lengthened in 2006 to 240 yards and requires a precisely struck long iron or hybrid club to a green that slopes from right to left.

    It is also protected to two deep bunkers.  One protects the front right portion of the green and the other will catch any pull or overdrawn tee shot into the left side of the green.

    The historical average of 3.29 shots per player ranks it right behind the famed 12th and is always among the five most difficult holes at Augusta National.

    Players will be very happy to make a three on this hole and move quickly to No. 5.

No. 8: Yellow Jasmine

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    No. 8, known as Yellow Jasmine, plays back uphill away from the club house and is a key hole on the front nine.

    Even though it is only 500 yards in length because it is so severely uphill, the players cannot see the green for their second shots and only a few players will be able to reach it in two shots.

    Even though there are no bunkers around the green, it is a small narrow target surrounded by large mounds that provide another aspect of difficulty on the hole. 

    The size and shape of the green, the undulation once the player arrives on the green and the mounding around the green add to the overall uniqueness of the hole.

    The third shot must be one of the most precise that the players will face the entire round.  Proper placement and spin are required to place the ball in the correct position to yield a reasonable birdie putt.

    Yellow Jasmine is historically ranked as the 15th-easiest hole at Augusta National. 

    If you want to win the Masters, you must make at least three birdies here over the four rounds.

No. 13: Azalea

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    Bobby Jones and Dr. McKenzie again demonstrate the beauty of the overall design of Augusta National.

    As the players leave one of the most terrifying and treacherous holes on the course at No. 12, they are confronted with statistically one of the easiest holes at No. 13.

    Don't take Azalea for granted, though.  It is the last hole in "Amen Corner" and has plenty of teeth in its 510 yards.

    It is the classic risk-reward hole. 

    Reachable in two shots for the majority of the field, a tributary of Rae's Creek meanders along the left side of the fairway and cuts across the front of the green to catch any mishit shots from the fairway.

    Phil Mickelson hit the shot of his life off the pine straw from behind a tree into the 13th green in the 2010 Masters.

    On Sunday afternoon an eagle on this hole can propel a contender into the Butler Cabin Green Jacket ceremony.

No. 15: Fire Thorn

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    When Bobby Jones decided to flop the nines in 1935, No. 15, the easiest hole on the course, came right at the end of the tournament.

    In 1935 Gene Sarazen hit the "shot heard round the world" and made double-eagle on the 15th hole.

    Only 530 yards in length, it is reachable by virtually all of the players in the field and plays more like a long par-four than a par-five.

    Use caution though.  A pond guards the front of the green and for those that are forced to lay up, they face a downhill lie for their third shot into the green.

    For those that take on the green with their second shots and take enough club to carry the pond, too much club will put them over the shallow green. 

    Chipping from behind this green requires a delicate touch as the green slopes severely back down to the pond.

    If the second shot at No. 15 is struck too solidly, the ball can possibly reach the pond on No. 16.

    Birdies await at Fire Thorn and are almost a requirement to win the Masters.

    Disaster is always lurking to drown the hopes of a Masters contender at this hole too.

Augusta National Is a Perfect Design for the Masters

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    These six holes can make or break any player trying to win the Masters.

    There are other intriguing holes at Augusta National, but these six offer tremendous danger but yet can yield birdies or even eagles that can bring a player from two or three shots behind back into the mix to challenge for the lead and the green jacket.