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The Masters Course Preview: Finishing up the back 9

Penn Live

theScore’s hole by hole preview of Augusta National Golf Club, site of the Masters, wraps up today with course designer Jeff Mingay's thoughts on the final three holes on the course.

No. 16: Redbud

Historical average: 3.16

Historical rank: 9

Mingay’s take: “Many changes have been made to most holes at Augusta over the years, but only the 16th has been completely redesigned since the course was originally built. Alister MacKenzie’s 16th was a little pitch hole that played westerly, toward the adjacent 6th hole. There were alternate tees on either side of the 15th green, and the tee shot played over a meandering creek hugging the right side of a tiny green set next to the hillside that leads down from the 6th tees. By the late 1940s that hole was deemed to be too simple and architect Robert Trent Jones was brought in to assist with executing a redesign plan apparently conceived by Bobby Jones. The creek was dammed to create a pond and the 16th green was relocated east, nearer the 17th tee. Now the 16th hole plays due east. It’s a longer hole, too, with Redan-like characteristics. In other words, the green slopes hard from right to left. Here's another hole at Augusta where smart players can use the character of the green to advantage. Some of the most exciting shots seen in Masters history are little draws off the tee that utilized the slope of the green to direct balls around the water and up close to Sunday's usual left pin. The same slope makes getting at right pins very difficult, though." 

No. 17: Nandina

Historical average: 4.16

Historical rank: 10

Mingay’s take: “Like the 5th, Augusta’s 17th hole is relatively unheralded for a stern penultimate test. This year though, there will likely be a lot of talk about it during the Masters, since the famed Eisenhower Tree is gone. The Eisenhower Tree was a giant, 120-year old loblolly pine, about 210 yards off the tee on the left side, that greatly affected the tee shot at seventeen. It was lost in a winter ice storm earlier this year. Over the years, particularly as it continued to grow taller and wider, many Masters contestants grew to hate that tree. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a long-time member of Augusta National, did too. He lobbied to have it taken down in the 1950s, but was overruled by Clifford Roberts, the club's co-founder and chairman at the time. Instead the club decided to keep it, and name the tree after its famous detractor. The Eisenhower Tree is iconic, and has been described as one of golf's famous 'landmarks' … sure, but in an architectural sense, it was no more than a nuisance at a very good hole. Augusta's penultimate hole is a 440-yard par 4 played over heaving ground, with a couple greenside bunkers that cut off the entrance to a putting surface Ben Crenshaw's described as one of the most underrated on the course … a course chock full of great greens. Here, a tree interfering with the tee shot isn't necessary."

No. 18: Holly

Historical average: 4.23

Historical rank: T6

Mingay’s take: "Augusta is heavily treed, but aside from the 7th hole, it's a very wide open golf course. Which makes the tee shot at the last an anomaly … the drive at eighteen is extremely tight. Golfers have to 'thread the needle' through a very narrow chute between tall pines, right and left … especially from a relatively new Masters tee, back near the 15th hole, which stretches eighteen to about 465 yards. From there, there's really no latitude at all to start the ball anywhere but dead straight off the tee. It's a very intimidating look … one of the most demanding tee shots at Augusta. The ideal drive starts straight then cuts off two giant bunkers at the end of the fairway, about 300 yards out. These bunkers were installed in 1966 as part of a sort of 'Nicklaus-proofing' of the course. In the mid-1960s, Jack was simply bombing drives into the practice area between the 9th and 18th holes, left. Club chairman Cliff Roberts ordered these two fairway bunkers installed to eliminate this option. And, in recent years, trees have been planted over there too. From the tee shot landing area, the ascension of the home hole, up to the green, is another incredible sight. The 18th plays up a part of the same dramatic hill the adjacent 10th comes down. It's 40 feet up to the green from where most good drives end up, making the surface of this large two-tier green invisible from back down in the fairway. This is another fairway, like the 8th, where you'll occasionally see players fall back after hitting their approach shots because of the severity of the slope. There's also an impressively massive bunker guarding the left corner of the green. Sunday's pin is usually tucked behind it, too. But, in many cases, getting close to a hole cut up on the back tier is even more challenging.”

That wraps up theScore’s hole by hole preview of Augusta National. Please see below for previous holes.

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