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More Trees for Amen Corner

Augusta National makes the 11th hole a little tighter with mature pines on right side.

August 23, 2003|Thomas Bonk | Times Staff Writer

You can still see the hole for the trees, even though they have added 36 of them to the 11th hole of Augusta National Golf Club for next April's Masters tournament.

The three dozen mature pine trees, ranging in height from 25 to 35 feet, have been added to the right side of the fairway at the already difficult 490-yard hole as part of the club's continuing toughening of the course.

The most extensive changes were in place for the 2002 Masters, when nine holes were either lengthened or redesigned and the course was made 285 yards longer.

By contrast, Thursday's announcement from Masters Chairman Hootie Johnson seemed slight, although that's not how it could turn out.

The 11th is the start of Amen Corner and players now might have to begin their soul-searching as they step to the tee box.

"Putting the trees in, it definitely makes the hole tougher," said Larry Mize, who has fond memories of the 11th hole, because that's where he chipped in to beat Greg Norman and win the 1987 Masters.

"You blow it right and you're in tree trouble."

The par-four 11th is a mostly downhill, slight left-to-right dogleg with a pond protecting the green on the left. It ranks as the fifth-most difficult hole at Augusta National since records were first kept in 1942. The 490-yard 10th is the toughest.

The new arbor arrangement is part of an extension of the existing tree line and is intended to prevent players from bailing out to the right side of the fairway with their drives and also to entice them to play more to the left side, which brings the pond back into play with second shots.

"The addition of trees at No. 11 continues our long-standing emphasis on accuracy off the tee," Johnson said in a statement.

Mize says there have been two schools of thought about approaching the hole anyway. He said Jack Nicklaus liked to keep his drive to the left side, whereas others, such as Tom Weiskopf, leaned more toward the right side.

A ball on the right side of the fairway might catch the downside of a slope and kick farther down the course, said Mize, but a ball to the left might kick farther left and not travel as far.

"I like the right-center of the fairway best," Mize said. "If there are trees over to the right, obviously I'll be more careful."

Johnson also announced one more change, at the par-five 13th, where the green was rebuilt and a new heating and cooling system installed. Masters officials are hinting that the new green will present the potential for a new pin position, possibly farther back and to the left.

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