Players try variety of ways to succeed on No. 12
The tee shot on No. 12 is more than just a shot – it’s a process, and it requires a strong commitment.
Kevin Kisner teed up the ball Saturday, looked at the flag at No. 11, changed clubs, backed off after a gust of wind to wait for it to settle, then hit it 15 feet from the hole.
Hunter Mahan shifted his eyes from the flags to the trees to his ball before approaching his tee shot, while Larry Mize gazed from flag to flag, then tossed grass into the air, as did Mahan’s caddie and Ian Poulter.
Emiliano Grillo looked over his shoulder to the No. 11 flag, slightly slumped his shoulders and changed clubs, then missed long.
Others simply stepped to the tee and swung like Justin Thomas, who took advantage of a brief calm by hitting quickly and leaving it 13 feet from the hole.
“It’s such a great par-3,” Mize said. “It doesn’t get any better than 12.”
The iconic 12th hole, as 1987 Masters Tournament champion Mize described it, can be as treacherous as it is beautiful. It requires a well-struck tee shot to one of the smallest greens on the course, guarded by bunkers in the front and rear, and the looming presence of Rae’s Creek.
The hole also requires course knowledge, a commitment and even a little faith, because perhaps the greatest hazard on the hole goes unseen.
“Trust that the wind is going to do what it’s supposed to do,” Jason Day said. “And that’s where the commitment comes in. If you don’t, if you’re not 100 percent committed on the shot, you’re not going to hit a good shot.”
Day looked back to his situation on Friday as an example of the process at No. 12.
Playing partner Ernie Els hit a “baby pitching wedge” three feet from the hole, then Matt Kuchar hit a small 9-iron to the back of the green. Day stepped up with a pitching wedge, but the wind suddenly shifted into his face and changed how hard he must hit it. His shot ended up long and left.
Players sometimes judge the hole according to playing partners, looking at club selections and how hard they hit it. Many consider it an advantage to hit second or third in a group.
“It’s always nice to see the first guy hit to check out what club he hit and see where the ball ends up. It’s nice to be second,” Mize said.
It’s not a guarantee, however, and a study of Saturday’s third-round play revealed little statistical proof that hitting second is an advantage. Among the day’s pairings, 11 of 29 who hit second were within or similar to the first player’s shot.
The volatility of the wind shows that results on the hole should be viewed case by case. Like Day’s confusion on Friday indicated, the wind can change in an instant. Sometimes it’s calm on the first player’s shot before swirling in different directions for the second player, or vice versa.
“Believe me, it’s an advantage anytime you have an inkling of what the wind is doing,” past Masters champion Ben Crenshaw said. “If there’s a disadvantage to going second, seeing so many good shots from the first guy and it turns out a little funny, you go, ‘Oh boy.’
“I’ve seen so many good shots turn out poor. So it can be an advantage and it can be a disadvantage. A little sudden wind will come up and it puts doubt in your mind.”
While conditions can change on the course each day, Amen Corner has proven to play relatively similar from one day to the next. The 12th hole played just a fraction easier Saturday than Friday at 3.105, and it ranks 11th in difficulty through three rounds.
The conditions at No. 12 have become so famous that Johns Hopkins University engineers devised a computer model to explain how the wind affects shots on the hole.
The study revealed the tree canopy surrounding Amen Corner has a “significant impact on the accuracy of tee shots.” The model included local weather patterns and the topography of the hole.
Players have devised tricks to try to gain an advantage at the 12th hole, such as tossing grass in the air, looking at the flags on Nos. 11 and 12, and paying attention to the trees in multiple locations.
When it comes down to making the shot, Day does his best to keep it simple, though it’s often easier said than done.
“You’ve got to hit it on the right gust at the right time and pick the right shot,” he said.
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216
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The shortest hole is a bear to play because of swirling winds. Its usually a medium- or short-iron shot to a narrow green that is protected by Raes Creek in front and azaleas behind.
150, par 3
About the plant
- Deciduous flowering shrub
- Blooms at first hint of spring with 3/4-inch golden yellow blooms followed by dark green foliage
Spot it on the course
- It grows behind the 12th green.
- Before it was Golden Bell, No. 12 was named Three Pines.
Where and how the plant grows
- Native to China
- Grows to 8 feet
- Moist, well-drained, rich, loose organic soil
- High drought tolerance
- Propagation by cuttings
- Extremely disease resistant
|Shot Order||Hit green||to pin||Missed|
|1 Bubba Watson||No||13 yards||Left back bunker|
|2 (Marker)||No||Not available||Water|
|2 Justin Thomas||Yes||13 feet||left|
|1 Kevin Kisner||Yes||15 feet||left|
|1 Louis Oosthuizen||No||7 yards Back||left|
|2 Patrick Reed||Yes||12 feet||left|
|2 Victor Dubuisson||Yes||18 feet||left|
|1 Webb Simpson||Yes||20 feet||right|
|1 Bill Haas||Yes||28 feet||right|
|2 Larry Mize||No||14 yards||Left back bunker|
|1 Anirban Lahiri||Yes||13 feet||right|
|2 Martin Kaymer||No||8 yards||Front bunker|
|1 Charley Hoffman||No||9 yards||Front bunker|
|2 Adam Scott||No||7 yards||Back left|
|1 Matt Kuchar||Yes||11 feet||left|
|2 Thongchai Jaidee||Yes||10 feet||left|
|1 Henrik Stenson||No||11 yards||Back left|
|2 Hunter Mahan||No||9 yards||Front bunker|
|2 Romain Langasque||No||12 yards||Front bunker|
|1 Harris English||Yes||28 feet||right|
|1 Rafael Cabrera-Bello||Yes||23 feet||right|
|2 Ian Poulter||No||12 yards||Back left|
|1 Matthew Fitzpatrick||No||12 yards||Left back bunker|
|2 Keegan Bradley||Yes||9 feet||left|
|2 Cameron Smith||Yes||19 feet||right|
|1 Billy Horschel||Yes||30 feet||left|
|1 Justin Rose||No||10 yards||Front bunker|
|2 Jamie Donaldson||No||12 yards||Back left|
|1 Emiliano Grillo||No||10 yards|
|2 Kevin Na||No||11 yards||Back left|
|1 Lee Westwood||Yes||6 feet||right|
|2 Paul Casey||Yes||36 feet||left|
|2 Angel Cabrera||Yes||13 feet||left|
|1 Kevin Streelman||No||25 yards||Back left|
|2 Davis Love III||Yes||6 feet||left|
|1 Jimmy Walker||Yes||10 feet||left|
|1 Chris Wood||Yes||25 feet||right|
|2 Brooks Koepka||No||6 yards||Front bunker|
|1 J. B. Holmes||No||10 yards|
|2 Bernd Wiesberger||No||13 yards||Left back bunker|
|2 Bernhard Langer||No||11 yards||Front bunker|
|1 Jason Day||No||8 yards||Front bunker|
|2 Troy Merritt||No||12 yards||Back left|
|1 Smylie Kaufman||Yes||29 feet||left|
|1 Dustin Johnson||Yes||14 feet||right|
|2 Daniel Berger||Yes||19 feet||right|
|2 Shane Lowry||No||8 yards||Front bunker|
|1 Bryson DeChambeau||No||14 yards|
|1 Danny Willett||Yes||9 feet||right|
|2 Sergio Garcia||Yes||36 feet||left|
|1 Hideki Matsuyama||No||8 yards||Front|
|2 Kiradech Aphibarnrat||Yes||15 feet||left|
|1 Brandt Snedeker||Yes||17 feet||right|
|2 Soren Kjeldsen||No||13 yards Back||left|
|1 Danny Lee||Yes||6 feet||left|
|2 Scott Piercy||Yes||18 feet||left|
|1 Jordan Spieth||Yes||17 feet||right|
|2 Rory McIlroy||Yes||9 feet||left|