Masters survey: Should Augusta National move the 13th tee back?
Rare is the golfer who doesn’t light up when talking about Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters. The spiritual setting that warms the heart, the singular tournament that stirs the senses. The explosion of colors, the anticipation of a Sunday charge. A 12th hole that basks in beauty while serving as a devilish conquest, a green jacket that triggers dreams and lives on forever.
The gathering every April among the Georgia pines is matchless, from Augusta National Women’s Amateur to the Drive, Chip and Putt competition. While we won’t be seeing any of these events in the coming days due to the coronavirus pandemic, we think you’ll still be interested in reading about Masters traditions, the iconic holes at Augusta National and your favorite golfers who would have been in the field this month.
Golfweek surveyed 39 golfers, including 14 winners of the green jacket and 24 major champions in all, to get their views on certain features of Augusta National and the Masters. From putting to eating to predicting to offering their architectural viewpoints, we’ll roll out their takes on a variety of topics in the next 10 days.
Should the tee at the 13th hole be moved back?
“No. You could solve the problem, if, instead, the golf ball is brought back. If you keep taking the 13th tee back, half the field won’t be able to get to the green in two. Even with the current golf ball, you can get yourself in trouble. But if you take the tee back farther, anybody who can’t get it around the corner is just going to hit it out to the right and make it a three-shot hole, and the hole loses all its character.” – Six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus
“Definitely not. Augusta National members, I could have saved you $25 million, or whatever the land cost. Here’s all you do. You plant a tree 20 yards off the tee on the left toward the corner. Now guys can’t go left. They have to go around the corner. I’ll buy them the tree.” – 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson
“Can they move it left a little bit? That would make it more challenging.” – 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott
“Yes. Because the second shot, the risk-reward shot, there is too little risk when you’re hitting an 8- or 9-iron in.” – Three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson
“I don’t care.” – 2016 U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson
“I think so. Now, there are a few guys where it’s become almost like a driving range shot, a short par-4 hole. Distance is an advantage but I think the fairways should be the same width everywhere, and if you move it back, it’s still an advantage to move it back further because you’d hit iron vs. hybrid. You’d still have to hit the drive straight. Right now, the long hitters don’t have to.” – 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth
“If they move it back 10 yards, maybe just five yards even, and just put a slightly different angle it would be very hard for anyone to fly it over the trees. For me, I don’t want it to go back. But I can see why they should do it, because the bombers fly it over the trees and have an 8-iron in and that’s not right.” – Two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer
“No. The tee could be lowered by a few feet and then people couldn’t take it over the trees. I’ve always said you should be able to hit driver on a par-5, but I don’t see them needing to go back. It’s a great risk-reward hole. I get seeing them wanting guys to hit longer clubs into the green, but if they lowered the tee box by 5 feet, then people couldn’t go over the trees.” – Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy
“No. It would take away the 3 and the 7 and bring in a lot more 4s, 5s and 6s.” – 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose
“Yeah, probably. More and more guys are cutting the corner. It’s not easy to do, but still. It pays to be long there.” – 2015 PGA champion Jason Day
“I think you can lengthen it 15, 20 yards, and shift it 5 yards to the left. That would take the chance of the really longer hitters taking it over the trees and having wedge in their hand. If you move it too far back, then you take out the chance of getting home in two because no one’s going for that green in two with a 3-wood.” – 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed
“No. Because then I don’t know if I could get home in two.” – 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson
“No, because it’s a fun risk-reward hole. You still have to hit a very good tee shot around the corner to get home in two. Yes, I know what Bubba did that one time, but 99% of the guys still have to make the ball turn and take on that corner to have a mid-iron into that green.” – Luke Donald
“I could go either way. But if they put a tree to the left just off the tee box, that’s all they have to do to make it harder to cut the corner.” – Rickie Fowler
“Yeah. So many players are making that hole look silly. It used to be only Bubba could do it, hitting it over the trees. Now there are at least 10 guys who can blow it over the trees on the left.” – 2010 U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell
“No. Because it has so much turn to it now that the new golf balls make it very difficult to make it turn that much, so it requires a perfect golf shot.” – Kevin Kisner
“The thing about 13 is it favors left-handers. For the right-handers you have to hook it and that’s not an easy shot. But it would be quite nice to see them push it back a little and have the guys go into the green with long irons and even woods.” – Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen
“No. When you look back at it from history’s standpoint, you don’t mess with that. You leave it as is. And trees are growing, so it’s going to get tougher. Let us create more history.” – Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson
“I do not make any recommendations at that place.” – Matt Kuchar
“No. It’s a great risk-reward hole at the distance it is right now.” – Tony Finau
“No. That risk-reward makes that hole great.” – Patton Kizzire
“It doesn’t need to go back. For me, in my 60s, if I hit a really good drive, I could have a 5-iron into the green. But it’s not an easy shot because of all the slope.” – 1988 Masters champion Sandy Lyle
“I don’t think so. It’s one of the best par-5s in golf. I get what they want, but they can just move that tee box a little to the left.” – 2019 U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland
“It shouldn’t be moved back, it should be moved left. Five or 10 yards. That would make all the difference. It would make the guys have to curve the ball more to get around the corner and you couldn’t go over the trees. Without making it longer, you’re still making it more difficult.” – Brandt Snedeker
“Last year it felt OK to me, but obviously, we’re getting into an era in the modern game where these guys are hitting the ball so far, with such great accuracy, that there may be a time when moving the tee back needs to be done. But we haven’t gotten to that point yet.” – 2008 Masters champion Trevor Immelman
“No. It’s my favorite par-5 in all of golf. I love that hole. Yes, as we’ve seen over the years some guys hit unbelievable drives and have wedges into the green, but it’s just a few guys and they have to hit it perfect on a perfect line. It will be a sad time if they move that tee back.” – Billy Horschel
“No. It’s such an iconic hole, so if you can swing it around that corner, you deserve to have a shorter club into the green. That hole is too exciting to change anything.” – 2011 PGA champion Keegan Bradley
“I think it could be moved back a little and moved to the left a little, just to make it a little more challenging. They’re so powerful now. Maybe move it back 10 or 15 yards and a little to the left.” – 1998 Masters champion Mark O’Meara
“No. In a perfect world, the bombers of the bombers would have to clear some taller trees, but the dogleg is in a pretty cool spot. But I’ll say this – those guys who do hit it over the trees, they’ve hit an unbelievable shot. Not just because they’re long, it’s not an easy shot. You go left there you’re dead. I think it’s a great reward for them because they’ve earned the right to be rewarded for their bombs.” – Bill Haas
“No. It’s not like that fairway is wide open and you can blast away. You still have to curve it and you know if you mis-hit it Rae’s Creek is there to make you pay. It’s not as easy to get it around the corner as some think it is.” – Charles Howell III
“No more than 20 yards. But I’d say no, because you have to think on that tee shot. I think 20 yards would be fair, but as long as they make it where you can still take on the corner, which isn’t easy, then OK. But if they take that out of the equation, no way. You need risk-reward there.” – Keith Mitchell
“No. The charm of 13 is you can make 3 and 7 just like that. If you move it back, it will take more 3s and 7s out of play.” – 2003 U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk
“No, it’s a great hole the way it is.” – Nick Watney