The spots where green-jacket dreams die at Augusta National

March 15, 2017

He never donned the iconic blazer. But with four runner-up finishes— including one at the 1975 shootout with Jack Nicklaus and Johnny Miller—Tom Weiskopf knows where to hit it (and not to hit it) at Augusta National. Considering his success as an architect and his decade in the Masters broadcast booth, who better to explain the National’s most dangerous, card-killing realms? “There’s trouble everywhere at Augusta,” Weiskopf says, “and I’ve found myself in most of these situations over the years.” Excluding the obvious hazards (water, O.B., Butler Cabin), here are six no-go spots. Be afraid, players. Be very afraid.

Spot No. 1: NO. 8, PAR 5, LEFT TREES

TOM’S TAKE: “Now there is a major no-no. If you’ve overcooked your second shot going for the green, you’ll face a 10- to 25-yard shot from the trees, with tall mounds between you and the target. You can’t see the flagstick, and you might be hitting off pine straw, with a restricted backswing, and you’ll have to play a bump-and-run. You have to hit it pretty hard to get it up and over the mounds, but it’s so hard to control the ball coming down those severe slopes. You’re better off in the ninth fairway than you are anywhere to the left.”

DEAD MAN WALKING: In 1999, Brandel Chamblee reached the eighth hole on Saturday just two shots off the lead. After what he called a “smoked” tee shot, his second shot, from 250 yards, “darted left into the Georgia pines,” leaving him stymied. He was still in jail after another swipe. Eventually, he penciled in a double-bogey 7. As Chamblee put it, “From Masters champ to Masters chump in 550 yards.”

Degree of Difficulty: 4

Spot No. 2: NO. 9, PAR 4, SHORT OF THE GREEN

TOM’S TAKE: “The target sits well above you, so it’s tough to judge the chip or pitch. The challenge, particularly to a front pin placement, is to keep it beneath the hole, otherwise you’ll face a downhill putt with a lot of break. If you don’t pull it off, your next shot could roll off and be right back in the same situation. If the course is dry and fast, I’ve seen it roll 50 yards back, almost to the fairway’s crosswalk.”

DEAD MAN WALKING: Greg Norman started the final round of the 1996 Masters with a six-shot lead over Nick Faldo. He tried to muscle a wedge onto the ninth green, but it spun off the putting surface and rolled some 30 yards back toward him in the fairway. Norman failed to get up and down, and his third bogey of the day cut his advantage to two. By the 12th hole, his lead was gone for good.

Degree of Difficulty: 3.5


TOM’S TAKE: “These days, a drive will only stay up there in wet conditions. You’re confronted with a 175- to 225-yard shot with a downhill, sidehill, right-to-left lie, playing to one of the smallest greens on the course. It’s an awkward lie, one that you don’t ever practice. It’s just a terrible situation. You’re going to wind up left of the green or in the bunker on the right. You don’t see many great shots from the right half of the fairway.”

DEAD MAN WALKING: On the first shot of his 1989 playoff with Scott Hoch, and in damp conditions, Nick Faldo popped up a drive that hung up on the hill, leaving him 205 yards to the green. His approach found the right bunker and led to a bogey 5. He handed his putter and card to his caddie, assuming he’d lost—and he should have. But Hoch blew a two-footer to win, and Faldo was back from the dead. His 25-foot birdie putt on the next hole gave him the first of his three Masters triumphs.

Degree of Difficulty: 5


TOM’S TAKE: “Putting down to a front hole location from the back of 13 is one of the scariest strokes at Augusta, because there’s so much slope and break—and there’s always that pressure that you might putt it into the water. You really have to look at the read and just think about where you need to leave the first putt to give yourself the best chance of making the next putt. If you miss your line, just by a little, oh my gosh.”

DEAD MAN WALKING: Tiger Woods reached his fourth hole of the 2005 Masters at 1-over par, after starting on the back nine in the weather-ravaged first round. His approach found the back of the 13th green, leaving Woods a 70-foot eagle try. Seconds later, Tiger was begging for his ball to stop as the putt neared the hole. It didn’t. Amid gasps from the fans, the ball trickled down the slope and into Rae’s Creek. He replaced the ball, added a penalty stroke and two-putted from the same spot for a 6—but eventually rallied to win his fourth green jacket.

Degree of Difficulty: 5


TOM’S TAKE: “It’s the course’s largest false-fronted green: four feet up from the front of the green to the top of the slope. You have to hit it hard enough to make that transition, but once the ball reaches the crown, it won’t stop quickly. To certain pin placements, such as front-right and back-left, you can’t get closer than five feet—unless you hit the pin.”

DEAD MAN WALKING: Reaching 4-under on the day, Rory Sabbatini had taken the lead Sunday in 2007 when he pulled his drive on No. 14 into the left trees. His recovery shot stopped short and right of the green. Sabbatini was short-sided. He pitched it too far and made a mojo-killing bogey. (Zach Johnson birdied the 14th on his way to victory.)

Degree of Difficulty: 5

Spot No. 6: NO. 17, PAR 4, LEFT OF THE FAIRWAY

TOM’S TAKE: “Not a good situation. Nine times out of 10, you won’t have a clear shot. You’ll have to play something very low underneath tree limbs. There’s only a narrow opening to try to roll your ball onto that green. I’ve seen more bogeys from the left trees at 17 than I have from way right.”

DEAD MAN WALKING: In 2007’s third round, Stuart Appleby was leading by four strokes when he yanked his tee shot on No. 17 way left, into a bunker on No. 7. He thinned his 9-iron recovery and found a collection of pine cones on No. 17’s left side. After two more shots and a three-putt, a triple-bogey brought him back to the pack.

Degree of Difficulty: 3.5