There are plenty of reasons why the start of Amen Corner is such a difficult test.
No. 11 is called White Dogwood, but don’t let the pretty trees fool you. It can be 505 yards of pure terror.
Ben Hogan famously quipped that if you ever saw his approach shot on the green there, “you’ll know I missed my second shot.”
Hogan made his statement before the tees were pushed back twice in the 2000s. Instead, he referred to the pond that guards the green, and the two-time Masters winner didn’t want to make a mistake by dumping his second shot into the water and making a big number.
No. 11 was pretty much a benign hole of 415 yards for the early years of the Masters. That changed in 1950, when it was lengthened to 445 yards and a pond was added to the left side of the green, which also was reshaped.
For the better part of five decades, the hole stayed the same. Two small bunkers were added to the rear of the green in 1953, and the bunker complex was adjusted in 1999.
When the Masters went to a sudden-death playoff format in the late 1970s, the 11th hole became the scene of some of the tournament’s most dramatic moments. Fuzzy Zoeller, Larry Mize and Nick Faldo (twice) come to mind.
Hootie Johnson took over as Augusta National and Masters chairman in the late 1990s, and not long after that he observed how far the players were hitting their drives on the once fearsome hole. Course architects Alister MacKenzie and Bobby Jones had envisioned a hole that would require at least a mid-iron to the green.
The tipping point for Johnson came when he saw Phil Mickelson hit such a big drive that he was basically chipping to the hole. Johnson ordered up changes to nine holes for the 2002 Masters, including moving the tees back 30-35 yards.
Four years later, the tees were moved back an additional 10-15 yards, and the hole became the first par-4 at Augusta National to measure more than 500 yards.
For Faldo, who won two of his three Masters at the 11th, the tee shot has dramatically changed.
“It’s 'Suck it up,' isn’t it? It used to be a more open tee shot on 11 and it was all about the second shot,” he said. “But now the tee shot at 11 is very long and demanding. It’s still the same looking second shot."