2013 Masters: Ranking Every Hole at Augusta on Difficulty Level

Mike DudurichContributor IMarch 19, 2013

2013 Masters: Ranking Every Hole at Augusta on Difficulty Level

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    Augusta National Golf Club has been hosting the first major championship of the season since 1934 and players have been trying to figure out the course ever since.

    Today’s course is big—7,435 yards long.

    It has gone through a number of changes over the years to keep up with the players and their equipment. While it’s annually not as difficult as the U.S. Open or Open Championship, players don’t come to Augusta and tear it up either.

    Here’s a list of how I rank each hole at that spectacular place.

    The ranking is from one to 10, with one being easiest and 10 hardest.

No. 1

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    Since length has been added and bunkers enlarged and deepened, the first hole at Augusta National Golf Club has become a beast.

    It’s become a very difficult fairway to hit and hold. It’s always been a difficult green to not only hit, but to get at those evil pin positions.

    In 2012, there were only 11 birdies made.

    The field managed 191 pars, 96 bogeys,13 double bogeys and four of the “others.”

    Field average: 4.3905.

    DIFFICULTY: 9

No. 2

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    At 575 yards, the last chunk of it downhill, this is a gettable par five. Put the drive in the fairway and green is very reachable for the biggest hitters.

    Even the not-so-long hitters can get there with a big drive and a well-struck second.

    Take Louis Oosthuizen’s double eagle from 253 yards out of the picture, and it was still a piece of cake for that elite field.

    If you weren’t making birdies (129) you were losing ground.

    Field average: 4.6444.

    DIFFICULTY: 2

No. 3

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    At first glance, this looks like one players should be able to handle with relative ease.

    A pretty little 390-yard par four makes the players pause when they get on the tee. A cluster of bunkers three-quarters of the way down the fairway make precision off the tee a necessity. That’s why most players choose an iron or hybrid to get the ball in play for an approach shot to a very tricky green.

    Field average: 3.9016.

    DIFFICULTY: 3

No. 4

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    There are few more intimidating par threes in major championship golf than the fourth, a 240-yard monster.

    It’s a slightly downhill shot to a kidney-shaped green that’s a hit-or-be-in-big-trouble position. Trees surround the perimeter for the really wayward shot; two bunkers guard the front of the green and are deep.

    The green itself has severe slopes and if players get on the wrong side here, three-putt is a real possibility.

    Phil Mickelson recorded the tournament’s only triple bogey there in 2012.

    Field average: 3.2190.

    DIFFICULTY: 7

No. 5

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    This 455-yard hole doesn’t get a lot of exposure, but it is very capable of putting blemishes on a scorecard. It borders the edge of Augusta National’s property and is the most distant point from the clubhouse.

    Starting with the large bunker that guards the turn of this slight dogleg left, it is difficult all the way.

    The green is large and difficult. Perhaps more than any other green on the course, this one requires extreme precision with approach shots because of the bumps and humps in the putting surface.

    Field average: 4.2127.

    DIFFICULTY: 6

No. 6

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    The tee is perched on top of hill, preventing the players from seeing the thousands of fans sitting below them watching the action on this par three, as well as the par three 16th.

    It’s only 180 yards on the scorecard and the bunker in front is big, but certainly not impossible to play from.

    But again, the slopes and swales of the green make the sixth very tough.

    Miss by a couple yards from any pin placement and it’s tough going.

    Field average: 3.1746.

    DIFFICULTY: 7

No. 7

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    If you can drive the ball 300 straight as an arrow between some large Georgia pines, you’ll have a mid- to short-iron approach to a square green that looks as though it was dropped in the middle of a circle of mean-looking bunkers.

    That putting surface tilts from back to front and is treacherous.

    This used to be a nice little breather in the middle of the round, but that ended when the tee box was moved back to make the hole 450 yards.

    Field average: 4.1714.

    DIFFICULTY: 5

No. 8

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    It probably seems like a long time since the second hole, the last “easy” hole players have had.

    At 570 yards, this par five can be reached, but not by all of the players and not all the time. They must get the ball left of a big fairway bunker on the right side and then turn a shot right-to-left up the hill toward the green.

    Large mounds are on either side of this two-tiered green, but there are no bunkers.

    Field average: 4.8567.

    DIFFICULTY: 3

No. 9

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    Say goodbye to the front nine with this dicey 460-yard par four.

    The downhill tee shot must be threaded through trees and travel far in an attempt to reach the flat part of the fairway.

    Those that don’t bomb it, face a downhill lie to an uphill green that is, well, ridiculous. It’s multi-leveled, sloping toward the front, and balls not well-struck will end up at the bottom of the hill, 30 yards away.

    A pair of big bunkers on the left play with a player’s mind as well.

    Field average: 4.2484.

    DIFFICULTY: 8

No. 10

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    Here’s where the fun begins for the patrons at Augusta National. Amen Corner is a hole away, and the players know it as soon as they step on the 10th tee.

    A long downhill drive is best if it starts right and draws to take advantage of the contours of the fairway. Even a long drive leaves a considerable second on this 495-yard par four.

    The green has a false front that must be avoided at all costs.

    Long, however, leaves for some rollercoaster putts.

    Field average: 4.2389.

    DIFFICULTY: 8

No. 11

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    What once was a good, stout par four has been turned into an absolute monster due to increased length (505 yards), trees planted down the right side of the fairway which took away a bailout area and the pond and green that have made the hole treacherous since it was built.

    The hole requires a bomb off the tee to get to the level part of the fairway on top of the hill. That allows for something of a reasonable approach shot that has to avoid the pond.

    Even though the averages don’t agree, I think this is the toughest hole at Augusta.

    Field average: 4.3248.

    DIFFICULTY: 9

No. 12

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    The most picturesque hole on the course is also the shortest and one of the most difficult.

    Only 155 yards from the tee, the shot must clear Rae’s Creek and a bunker in front, and find a putting surface that runs perpendicular to the tee and has a pair of nasty bunkers behind.

    Any shot over the green, bunkered or not, requires a recovery to a green that runs back toward Rae’s Creek.

    It’s as pretty as a beauty queen, but mean as a snake.

    Field average: 3.0606.

    DIFFICULTY: 7

No. 13

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    This may well be the prettiest hole on the course, and with that beauty is an opportunity for the players to pick up a stroke or two.

    It's a par five of just 510 yards. The elite field can reach it in two and, with a green that’s not nearly as adventurous as some others, make some putts.

    The tee shot must be drawn around a corner while avoiding a creek that runs the entire left side of the green, as well as trees that guard that side.

    The creek runs in front of the green and adds to the equation.

    Field average: 4.7229.

    DIFFICULTY: 3

No. 14

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    The 14th hole at Augusta National is probably the most innocuous hole on the course.

    A drive befitting a professional leaves a short-iron approach to a big green that has enough bumps to make it interesting.

    There are no bunkers on this hole, and only a major meltdown on the green can lead to a big number.

    Field average: 4.0924.

    DIFFICULTY: 2

No. 15

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    If Augusta National were an amusement park, players would walk to the 15th tee feeling like they had just ridden the Lazy River and were about to get on a high-speed roller coaster.

    At 530 yards, it seems like one players should dominate. And most times they do, but they have to pummel their drive down the right side with a bit of a draw, avoiding the stand of trees on the left.

    Having accomplished that, all that’s left is hitting a perfect long iron/hybrid/fairway wood to a green that’s fronted by water and isn’t very wide.

    The bank in front of the green is closely mown to allow balls hit short to trickle back into the water. The putting surface tilts that way as well.

    Field average: 4.6656.

    DIFFICULTY: 3

No. 16

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    Players close out Augusta’s excellent quartet of par threes with the most exciting of the four.

    At just 170 yards, length isn’t necessarily a problem, but the pond that extends from tee to green certainly is.

    Three bunkers guard the green: front right, back right and back left.

    The two on the right are very popular bailout spots, but they leave difficult second shots to a green that runs from right to left toward the water.

    If a player happens to go over the green, the difficulty of keeping the ball out of the water is magnified.

    Field average: 3.1115.

    DIFFICULTY: 5.

No. 17

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    Another seemingly harmless par four of 440 yards, No. 17 is an uphill tee shot that requires avoiding Ike’s Tree about 150 yards off the tee on the left side of the fairway.

    This is another fairway without a bunker. The green is fronted by a pair of bunkers, but the real trick on this hole is putting.

    The slopes and swales in this green are amazing.

    Miss your target by a yard and you could be facing a putt of any length from the hole.

    Field average: 4.1561

    DIFFICULTY: 4

No. 18

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    It's definitely one of the best finishing holes in golf, if for no other reason than the Masters will end on it every year, barring a playoff.

    The tee has been moved back (making it a 465-yard tester of a par four). The trees have grown so that the gap to hit through off the tee has gotten smaller and smaller.

    The longer tee shot brings the bunker on the left side of the fairway into play even more.

    The uphill climb continues on the approach to a two-tiered that has tortured the best to ever play the game.

    It's a great hole to finish the year’s first major.

    Field average: 4.3089

    DIFFICULTY: 8