In Tiger Woods’ first nine Masters tournaments as a pro, he won four times. In the last seven attempts, he hasn’t won once.
What’s changed? Well, the public found out that he was a serial cheater on his wife and his life fell apart. He’s also changed his caddie and he’s changed his swing.
In addition to all that, Augusta National, home of the Masters, was significantly altered in 2002 and 2006 in an effort to “Tiger-proof” the course.
Augusta National used to be a wide open course that let players bomb their drivers, then hit great recovery shots if they missed the fairway. That was part of the fun of the place.
When Woods dismantled the course, the people running the tournament lengthened it, planted new trees, and grew rough.
We’re going to use them to show you how the course has changed.
As a reminder of why the course was altered, here’s Tim Rosaforte in 1997 describing Woods at Augusta National: “Woods reduced this once mighty track to an executive course. He was reaching the par 5s with wedges and driving it pin-high at the 360-yard third. All he did was go 18 under, set the tournament record, win by 12 strokes and turn Augusta into Indian Wells.”
Woods was just the first of a generation of long hitters aided by improvements in technology. If Augusta wasn’t made longer, the course would be a joke for pros.
The first changes in 2002 didn’t really work. He won twice after those changes. The second changes in 2006 worked. He hasn’t won since.
Here’s a run down of a few holes.
HOLE NUMBER TWO
Here’s the second hole, a par-5. As you can see, through the years trees have been grown along the right edge making shots that slide out right, more problematic. The green has also been narrowed, making approaches more difficult.
HOLE NUMBER THIRTEEN
And here’s the famous thirteenth hole, the final part of “Amen Corner”. It’s a dog leg left. As you can see, through the years, the fairway has narrowed and trees have been grown on the right side. Also, take a look at the tee box in the back, and how it’s been pushed further and further back.
HOLE NUMBER SEVENTEEN
Golf blogger Geoff Shackleford recently noted that when Jack Nicklaus won in 1986, he pulled his drive left on 17. Because there were no trees in the way, he was able to fire at the green. If the trees that exist today existed then, he would have been forced to punch a wedge out, then approach the green. We would have never heard the famous “Yes, sir!” call from Verne Lundquist as he nailed a birdie putt and went on to win.
HOLE NUMBER FIFTEEN
And finally, here’s the 15th hole. This is another par-5. It’s been made longer through the years. When Tiger Woods first came to Augusta, he could bomb a drive and hit a short iron in. Now it requires an accurate tee shot, then a nerve wracking long iron, or fairway wood.
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