By Joe Passov
Thursday, March 29, 2018

No golf course produces more fireworks down the stretch than Augusta National. Just when you think that this year's Masters can't top the one before, it does — and the drama-inducing design is what elevates the excitement. Still ... some holes are better than others. We polled 12 of our Top 100 Course Ranking panelists, which included pros, architects and scholars, and tasked them with ranking Augusta National's holes in descending order of greatness. We awarded 54 points for a first-place vote, 51 for second, etc. There were surprises, including the low-key 14th besting the famed risk/reward 15th. A consensus reveals that there's not a single weak hole at Augusta National. Every hole had at least one proponent. Here are the results, and the justifications behind them.

18. 17th hole, par 4, 440 yards: 141 points
Highest Rank: 5
Lowest Rank: 18

Comments: "A deceptively good hole, because the tee shot is kind of exacting"; "Green is subtle, yet powerful, especially on the mind of a player on Sunday who's chasing a leader or trying to protect a lead"; "Just not very inspiring and tough. The hole I would least love to play"; "Losing the Eisenhower Tree was huge. Now it's the worst hole — or least best — at ANGC."

17. 7th hole, par 4, 450 yards: 219 points
Highest Rank: 6
Lowest Rank: 18

Comments: "With the narrowing of the fairway, they've made the hole more interesting. Now you're really challenged to hit driver, because you don't want to be approaching this green with a 5- or 6-iron"; "Approach shots can be funneled to tucked pins — always fun — but I liked it better when it was shorter."; "This hole was ruined. You can't keep a green that size that was designed for a wedge and now it's a 7-iron."

16. 5th hole, par 4, 455 yards: 225 points
Highest Rank: 4
Lowest Rank: 18

Comments: "The green is unique and truly outstanding. I hope they lengthen the hole to require the long-iron run-in approach that was originally intended"; “Tough tee shot, interesting green"; “Outside of the elephant buried in the green, not much happening here."

15. 4th hole, par 3, 240 yards: 252 points
Highest Rank: 4
Lowest Rank: 16

Comments: "MacKenzie and Jones's homage to the Eden. What's not to love?”; “Long slog of a par-3 with not much room to miss"; “Weakest par 3"' “My least favorite par 3."

14. 1st hole, par 4, 445 yards: 255 points
Highest Rank: 4
Lowest Rank: 18

Comments: "Overly narrow for an opening hole, but has a fantastic green"; "Toughest starting hole in the world, with great contour and mound on the green surface"; "If you don't hit the fairway, it's a tough opener"; "I liked it better when players were challenged to carry the fairway bunker on the right."

13. 6th hole, par 3 180 yards: 267 points
Highest Rank: 4
Lowest Rank: 17

Comments: "Interesting green where you can use contours to get it close"; "Beautiful hole. On the tee it feels like you're hitting off of a cliff, but it plays largely level"; "Great visual deception"; "Massive undulation and tiers in that largely underappreciated green; "Great hole that gets overlooked because of 12 and 16."

12. 2nd hole, par 5, 575 yards: 303 points
Highest Rank: 3
Lowest Rank: 18

Comments: "Fun green and strategy with no water"; "Good early-round test of shotmaking and placement"; "Ho-hum hole. Not much character here."

11. 15th hole, par 5, 530 yards: 309 points
Highest Rank: 3
Lowest Rank: 18

[Tied for 9th; awarded 11th spot due to "Lowest Rank" number]

Comments: "History probably causes me to rank this so high, but I love the feast or famine aspect"; "Such a dramatic second shot"; "Without the pond in front, not much of a hole, but dramatic in the midst of a back nine charge"; "Really interesting third shot, but first two shots don't much matter"; "Tree planting has made this hole a shell of its former self."

10. 8th hole, par 5, 570 yards: 309 points
Highest Rank: 3
Lowest Rank: 17

[Tied for 9th; awarded 10th spot due to better "Lowest Rank" than Number 15]

Comments: "Great strategy beyond the tee shot based only on contours, not bunkers"; "Uphill battle with wonderful punchbowl green"; “Fun finish line with the great green and corresponding mounding"; "My least favorite of the par-5s. A little too goofy and luck-dependent. One foot left or one foot right at the green makes a world of difference."

9. 9th hole, par 4, 460 yards: 309 points
Highest Rank: 3
Lowest Rank: 16

[Tied for 9th; awarded ninth spot due to better "Lowest Rank" than Number 8 and Number 15]

Comments: "Love the severe false front and green contouring. Makes it truly distinctive"; "How I wish I could have played this hole with MacKenzie's original boomerang-shaped green. Still a great hole"; “A good hole, not great"; "Requires a hard hook on the tee shot and is nearly impossible to put the tee shot in the proper position to approach the green."

8. 18th hole, par 4, 465 yards: 315 points
Highest Rank: 5
Lowest Rank: 18

Comments: "Demands execution to score, but fair"; "Great finishing hole. Most people don't realize just how severely uphill this plays"; "Off of the tee, as narrow as a hallway in a tract house"; "Too narrow off the tee, and the two-tiered green doesn't work for such a steeply uphill approach shot."

7. 3rd hole, par 4, 350 yards: 351 points
Highest Rank: 2
Lowest Rank: 16

Comments: "Really interesting — where you hit it depends crucially on where the pin is placed"; "A terrific hole, with so many choices on how to play it"; "Can wreak havoc with its uphill approach and false front at the green"; “A better hole now that many players can drive the green."

6. 14th hole, par 4, 440 yards: 399 points
Highest Rank: 1
Lowest Rank: 15

Comments: "Despite the long-ago loss of the really cool, very long 'Duffer's Headache' bunker off the tee, the hole is still brilliant in its strategy from tee to green"; "Most interesting green at Augusta"; "Great ground-level green on the natural slope line with contour"; “Probably the best contoured green in the world."

5. 11th hole, par 4, 505 yards: 414 points
Highest Rank: 3
Lowest Rank: 16

Comments: "Fun, creative recovery shots in the face of danger"; "Such a tough test of driving now, but necessary to challenge the pros"; "So gorgeous, so hard"; "I would love to see the original creek bed restored here instead of the pond. It would make gambling great fun, even for the everyday player!"

4. 16th hole, par 3, 179 yards: 426 points
Highest Rank: 2
Lowest Rank: 18

Comments: "The most fun par 3"; "The contours of the green make this hole endlessly interesting"; "Too hard when the pin is back-right, but a blast to play with every other hole location."

3. 10th hole, par 4, 495 yards: 492 points
Highest Rank: 2
Lowest Rank: 13

Comments: "Maybe the best driving hole in golf"; "Watching your drive turn and disappear on the left side of the saddle is cool to watch"; "Beautiful, historic"; "Incredible how far downhill it plunges"; “My favorite bunker in golf and it gets no action."

2. 12th hole, par 3, 155 yards: 543 points
Highest Rank: 1
Lowest Rank: 12

Comments: "Iconic but brutal"; "The best hole because it resists every equipment advance"; "Most people don't know the creek is concrete-lined"; “Fraught with danger with its slender green and impossible-to-figure-out wind"; "I love this hole!"

1. 13th hole, par 5, 510 yards: 627 points
Highest Rank: 1
Lowest Rank: 4

Comments: "Best short par-5 in the world"; "The most fun hole where anything could happen"; "The ultimate daring hole. Despite equipment advances, the hole still gets into a good player's head"; "The most beautiful, strategic hole in golf."

 

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