Everything is changing in the world of golf these days, and it seems that it even extends to Augusta National, where the 13th hole is under construction.
Thanks to the flyover folks at Earth Eurekawe have new photos from the 13th, taken earlier this week, showing the ground moving on the fairway and the formation of a possible new tee set much further back.
From above, it is clear that the fairway has been excavated, with a pipe trench running down the middle towards the 14th hole. It is unclear if the pipe had just been laid or dug. Augusta National does not comment on the club’s operations.
The biggest problem with the 13th hole is, of course, a potential new tee box. The golf world has weighed in on how to change this par 5, which plays as one of the easiest holes on the course (by par) during the Masters each year. This year, it was the third easiest, behind only the par 5s on the top nine, the numbers 2 and 8.
Number 13 has been the subject of many questions thrown at Augusta National President Fred Ridley in recent years. Just a couple of months ago, at his annual news conference, Ridley was asked if the club had a timetable for changing the hole.
“Yeah, I mean, there’s no schedule,” Ridley said. “Nothing to announce at this time. That is something that we have certainly considered and will continue to consider.
“It’s true, and I’ve said this before, the 13th hole doesn’t have the same challenges that it has historically and, I mean, I can only remember when I was young watching the Masters, you know, some of the triumphs and tragedies. And even though we still have them, the fact that players are hitting medium to short irons on that hole, you know, it’s not really how it was designed.”
Ridley is right about the club options. Players often hit the 3-wood off the tee, as Scottie Scheffler did this year, with the hole extended to a total of just 510 yards. If they are able to bend it right around the corner, there is only one 8-iron left. There is no reason to take the driver out of the bag, especially with the trees and pine straw in the distance.
Ridley admitted the club’s hesitation to change anything about the hole’s design was because it is “such an iconic hole” and one of the few where so much golf history has been made. But, he also admitted, “at some point, it’s something we’ll probably do. We just have nothing to say about it at this point.”
Well, it seems that the club is now doing something about it.
Multiple photos from Eureka Earth show construction beyond the teeing ground, and even a white, rectangular outline of what would sensibly be a new tee. According to those photos, a new tee would be roughly 30 yards behind the current teeing ground, forcing the driver back into the hands of many players and turning off-the-line shots into layups. Check out the photos below.
What does this mean for the 2023 Masters? Once again, it is too early to tell. The club has a habit of sharing course adjustments in its media guides each spring. That’s where we were first introduced to an elongated 15th hole, which made its debut this April.
The 15 played harder than it has in decades this year, with an additional 20 yards in total length, to reach 550 from the championship tees. All that meant was that players could not slide past the overhanging trees on the left side of the fairway, nor could they throw iron shots at each other for a green-keeping approach. Instead, players found themselves hitting hybrids on the 15th green, or setting up for their second shots on a tricky, downhill third shot. As a result, not a single eagle was made on the 15th of this year, and the hole was played at an average of 4.9329 strokes.
All of that, and the photos above, speak to Augusta National’s abilities to adjust its course to the demands of the modern game, but also to do it on its own schedule. Don’t expect official news from the club until next spring. Until then, follow along to Eureka Earth for those long-range plane shots. And check out this video about them below.