The 16th: Home of Great Shots
Arnold Palmer - 1962
It’s the final round of the 1962 Masters, and Gary Player is trying to become the first repeat winner in the tournament’s history.
He’s hit his tee shot on the par-3 16th to about 10 feet from the pin, which is cut on the left, and chief rival Arnold Palmer has put his ball on the right fringe.
Advantage Player, or so everyone thought.
“I did the unforgivable,” Player recalled. “I said to my caddie – Nipper was his name – I said, ‘Nipper, we’ve won.’ ”
Even CBS announcer Jimmy Demaret, a three-time Masters winner, figured Player had won.
Palmer, about 45 feet from the hole, elected to play a wedge from the fringe.
“As it rolled and rolled I got happier and happier,” Palmer said. “Because I knew the ball was going to be close. I never thought that it was going to roll in the hole, but you know the feeling you get when that happens.”
The ball lodged between the pin and cup for an unlikely birdie, and Player missed his putt. When Palmer birdied the 17th hole, it set up the first three-way playoff in Masters history.
Palmer birdied the 16th again as part of an incoming 31 to beat Player and Dow Finsterwald for his third Masters triumph.
Jack Nicklaus - 1975
There’s a reason the Jack Nicklaus plaque is located between the 16th green and the 17th tee at Augusta National.
No player has benefited more from the hole than Nicklaus, who made birdies at the 16th in the final round of three of his Masters wins.
Nicklaus knocked in short birdie putts at the 16th in his first and last wins at Augusta National. But it was his birdie in 1975 that stands out.
Nicklaus was in an epic battle with Tom Weiskopf and Johnny Miller.
The three had traded birdies all Sunday afternoon, and now they had reached a critical juncture. Nicklaus hit his tee shot at 16 a little short and had 40 feet left for birdie. Weiskopf and Miller were on the 15th green.
Just before Nicklaus putted, Weiskopf had birdied the par-5 15th.
That sent the gallery into a frenzy, and CBS announcer Ben Wright said, “That is evil music ringing in Nicklaus’ ears.”
But when Nicklaus responded by knocking in his 40-foot birdie putt, Henry Longhurst described it this way:
“That has to be the greatest putt I ever saw in my life. And now Weiskopf will have to take it as he dished it out before.”
Miller said he didn’t see Nicklaus’ putt on 16, but later quipped, “I saw the bear tracks when I got to the green.”
A shaken Weiskopf made bogey at 16 to fall behind Nicklaus, who won a record fifth green jacket.
NICKLAUS ON NO. 16
“The hole played very different depending on where you put the pin,” Jack Nicklaus said of the traditional pin locations at 16.
FRONT RIGHT: “I could cut a little shot in there and get it there fairly decent,” he said. “It played short if you played that right pin position.”
BACK RIGHT: “The one on the top is really tough,” he said. “That’s one I never played at. I played for the middle of the green. If you happen to get it up, OK, if you don’t, then you’re basically putting uphill 30 feet. That’s the one I made in 1975.”
FRONT LEFT: “Anything on the left side I was able to get it pretty close,” he said. “If you put the short left position it was really an easy hole.”
BACK LEFT: “Back left is where they traditionally put it in the final round and is a really easy hole,” he said.
Tiger Woods - 2005
Tiger Woods was in jail.
He had played brilliant golf all day long in the final round in 2005, but Chris DiMarco wouldn’t go away. And now, he had blown an 8-iron over the green at the 16th.
It would take a Houdini-like effort to make par and maintain a one-shot lead.
Woods chose to play his chip well above the hole. Woods and caddie Steve Williams watched as it slowly made its way toward the cup. The ball stopped momentarily, flashing the Nike logo, then dropped for a most unlikely birdie.
“Oh my goodness,” CBS Verne Lundquist said as he described the shot. “Oh wow. In your life, have you seen anything like that?”
Woods bogeyed the next two holes and wound up in a sudden-death playoff with DiMarco. On the first extra hole at No. 18, Woods sank a birdie putt to nab his fourth green jacket.
But it is his chip on the 16th that is best remembered.
“I wasn’t thinking about chipping it in,” Woods said. “Under the circumstances, it was one of the best shots I’ve hit.”
PAR 3 | 170 yards
The 16th ranks as the ninth hardest hole in tournament history. After World War II, it was transformed from a short hole with a benign pitch over a small stream into a longer, harder hole with the tee shot played entirely over a pond. Three greenside bunkers offer a layer of defense for the second-shortest hole on the course. The green is the primary defense with its right-to-left slope. Placing the tee shot below the hole is crucial.
MORE ON THE 16TH
Theater of Drama
Favorite place to watch? Try the 16th hole, which is the last good spot for golfers to pick up a birdie and a fun hole for the patrons that offers a mix of danger alongside the occasional hole-in-one.