Augusta’s best defense at the Masters found on the greens

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Few golf courses on God’s green earth can boast hole locations with as many personalities as those on Augusta National Golf Club.

This is golf’s best example of bipolar hole locations.

Make no mistake, these humpty-dumpty greens are the last line of defense against the world’s best golfers. The hole locations are the straw that stirs the drink. Call it a double-bogey cocktail.

Caution: The surgeon general warns all golfers to load up on tranquilizers before putting on some of these greens.

One day a hole location can be benign. The next day, putting on that same green can be as harrowing as going to dinner with Hannibal Lecter.

In the first round of the Masters, the 18th and 17th holes ranked second and third, respectively, in difficulty. Both hole locations had more hairpin turns than San Francisco’s Lombard Street and its crazy, crooked patch of pavement that draws onlookers from around the world.

Fast forward to the second round, where 18 and 17 ranked 13th and 14th, respectively. What happened? Both hole locations were accessible, thank you.

The famous par-3 12th hole at Augusta National claimed a fraternity of victims in the first round, with eight double bogeys and one triple bogey.

In the second round, with a much more comfortable hole location, not a single player in the field of 97 posted a score higher than bogey.

It sounds schizophrenic, but it’s just golf, Masters style.

The par-4 11th, even though it was just the eighth toughest hole in the third round, is cumulatively the most difficult hole after 54 holes (4.369 average). It is followed by the par-3 fourth (3.329) and the par-4 seventh (4.273).

Don’t tell anybody, but these greens were constructed by the devil. On a bad hair day. You could hold Olympic ski competition on these slopes. This is where birdies and pars go to die.

Augusta is America’s four-putt capital. Seve Ballesteros loved it here: “I miss, I miss, I miss, I don’t know how the hell I finally made it.”

Many of us enjoy playing Augusta Municipal Golf Course. However, if they used some of these hole locations at Augusta Muni or your friendly neighborhood golf course, you’d still be out there trying to finish.

If more golf courses had similar greens, along with hole locations like this, golf would be a six-hour sport and nobody would have to worry about starting times. Take your time; the first tee is wide open.

You will never see a number smaller than four – which refers to four paces from the edge of the green – on the official Masters pin sheet. The numbers one, two and three simply don’t exist.

This is not only misleading, it’s a lie. OK, it’s a white lie and doesn’t make much difference. Except that some of the Masters hole locations appear to be no more than two paces from the edge of the green.

What this does is force golfers to be observant, smart and analytical – all the things that most of us aren’t.

How did I wind up in this asylum? I don’t know, Doc, but I keep having this dream about a round white ball that won’t stop rolling.

It’s searching for a hole location that’s somewhere over there in the corner of the 11th green, although Marco Polo, my caddie, and Lewis and Clark, my sponsors, haven’t quite located it yet.

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