GOLF

Aerial photos show possibility of 13th longer at Augusta National

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Architects are doing it again at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, with the par-5 13e having been stripped of grass, what appears to be drainage work laid under the fairway and the very real possibility of the famous left dogleg playing longer in the 2023 Masters.

Eureka Earth, a Twitter handle of Augusta-based flight instructor David Dobbins, frequently posts aerial photos of Augusta National. His latest snaps posted to Twitter on Monday show the 13e fairway receiving heavy construction and what could be a new tee box on land that has been purchased in recent years from the adjacent Augusta Country Club.

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Augusta National has not commented on the work in progress – early confidentiality in such matters, of course, renovation is usual for the exclusive club.

If it is a tee box being built behind a row of trees currently growing behind the long standing back tee, the hole could be stretched about 40-60 yards. In recent years, the par 5 named Azalea has played 510 yards, but strong players with modern equipment have been able to hit the ball to the left side of the dogleg to set up short irons and sometimes even wedges into the green for the second shots. Many players start with a 3 wood to hit a big draw more easily than with a modern driver, and they often still have irons in hand for approach shots into the green in two.

If the construct shown in the photo from Eureka Earth is a tee box that is put into play, players should hit a tee shot from at least 310 to 330 yards to get around the corner of the dogleg, guarded by tall pines and a creek, to set up any chance of reaching the green in two strokes. Even for most modern pros, that means the driver is rolling off the tee.

Photos from Eureka Earth show what appears to be a square area in the recently cleared land behind the row of trees. Trees should fall if this is indeed a new tee box, giving players a chute through which they can hit their tee shots.

Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley told his press conference ahead of the 2022 Masters that there was no timetable for when the club could extend the 13e hole, but he said it was a possibility. “It’s something we’ve certainly considered and will continue to consider,” Ridley said.

The club is unlikely to make an announcement on the front hole much closer to the Masters in April, assuming recent aerial photos show a new tee box. A lot of work has been done on the course over the past year and Eureka Earth has captured photos of the work in progress, specifically at 11e and 15e holes, but Augusta National officials did not comment on the renovations until February.

Eureka Earth also recently took pictures of heavy lifting on the par-3 course, with the possibility of several holes being adjusted ahead of the traditional par-3 event on the Wednesday before the start of the Masters in 2023.

The private course, ranked No. 3 among all classic courses in the United States, is closed each summer and the club normally takes on a variety of development projects.

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