GOLF

A new 13th tee at Augusta National? Aerial photos give us clues

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Augusta National’s 13th hole gets a makeover.

@EurekaEarthMore

Everything is changing in the world of golf these days, and it seems to even extend to Augusta National, where the 13th hole is under major construction.

Thanks to the people of the overview of Eureka Earthwe have new photos of the 13th, taken earlier this week, which show dirt being moved into the fairway and the shaping of a potential new tee box much farther back.

From above it is clear that the fairway has been dug out, with a pipe trench extending down the middle of it towards the 14th tee. It is not known whether the pipe had just been laid or dug up. Augusta National does not comment on club operations.

The biggest problem with the 13th hole is, of course, a potential new tee. The golf world has spoken on how to change this par-5, which plays as one of the easiest holes on the course (by par) at the Masters every year. This year it was 3rd easiest, behind only the par 5s on the front nine, Nos. 2 and 8.

Number 13 has been the subject of many questions directed at Augusta National President Fred Ridley in recent years. Just a few months ago, at his annual press conference, Ridley was asked if the club had a timetable for changing the hole.

“Yeah, I mean, there’s no timeline,” Ridley said. “Nothing to report at this time. This is something we have certainly considered and will continue to consider.

“Certainly, and I’ve said this before, the 13th hole doesn’t have the same challenges that it has historically, and, I mean, I just remember as a young guy watching the Masters, you know, some triumphs and tragedies. And while we still have those, the fact that players are hitting mid to short irons into this hole, you know, isn’t really the way it was designed.

Ridley is right about club picks. Players will often hit 3 wood off the tee, as Scottie Scheffler did this year, with the hole extended to a total of just 510 yards. If they can bend it well around the corner, there’s only about an 8-iron left. There’s no reason to pull the driver out of the bag, especially with the trees and pine straw in the distance.

Ridley admitted the club’s reluctance to change anything about the layout of the hole was because it is “such an iconic hole” and one of the few where so many stories of golf have been written. But, he also admitted, “at some point, it’s something we’ll probably do. We just don’t have anything to say about it right now.

Well, it looks like the club are now doing something about it.

Several photos from Eureka Earth show construction beyond the tee field, and even a rectangular white outline of what would reasonably be a new tee. According to these photos, a new tee would be about 30 yards behind the current tee, which would force the driver back into the hands of many players and turn offline drives into layups. Check out the photos below.

What does this mean for the Masters 2023? Again, it’s far too early to tell. The club makes a habit of sharing course adjustments in its media guides each spring. This is where we first discovered an elongated 15th hole, which made its debut in April.

The 15th played harder than he has in decades this year, with 20 more yards in total length, to hit 550 from the Championship tees. All of this meant that players could not walk past the trees that jutted down the left side of the fairway, or stake iron shots between them for an approach that would hold the green. Instead, players found themselves hitting hybrids on the 15th green, or setting up for their second shots in a tricky downhill third shot. As a result, not a single eagle was made on the 15th this year, and the hole averaged 4.9329 strokes.

All of this, and the photos above, are testament to Augusta National’s ability to adjust its course to the demands of the modern game, but also to do so on its own schedule. Look for no official word from the club until next spring. Until then, follow Eureka Earth for these long-range plane shots. And watch this video about them below.

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