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Tiger Woods has given his approval to the recent changes made to Augusta National. Speaking to Golf Digest (opens in new tab), the five-time winner of the tournament praised the organisers for modernising the game while keeping the history and traditions alive.
The most significant changes to Augusta National have seen the 11th and 15th holes lengthened, and Woods was enthusiastic about them. He said: “If they didn’t tell you that they changed anything and you go there, you’d think it looks the same as it did every other year. It’s just absolutely amazing."
The 46-year-old then offered more details on the changes, saying: “The 11th hole, I think, is a good change. They moved the tee a little more to the left and took a little bit of dogleg out, and took a few of the trees out of the right-hand side, and that’s a good change. And then 15, you know, I haven’t seen it yet, but we’re almost going to be on the back of 10. So I didn’t know there was land back there. They find land, they can make land.”
There has long been speculation that the 13th hole would be changed to account for the ability of the biggest hitters to cut the corner of the dogleg left par 5. That hasn't happened yet, but Woods did state that the greens have undergone significant changes, and that they are entirely appropriate with the evolution of the game. He continued: “Every green’s gotten flatter. Every green has been redone. Every green has gotten softer than it used to be when I first played it, just because of the fact that the golf ball has changed. We’re hitting the same irons but not the same trajectory. The angle of descent is slightly different than what it used to be, so the greens have gotten a little softer in that regard."
While that may sound like the greens are easier to play, Woods disagreed, saying: “They’re still extremely difficult – still just a ton of movement, and they’ve gotten bigger. The shelves have gotten a little bigger – more pinnable areas, and some of the greens have gotten more difficult, like the 11th green. They’ve put a little mound up there on the right-hand side. It’s the bailout, the bailout right from the lake, but, you know, that used to be the bailout, to be able to pitch it over there. Now that’s just... it’s a brutal bailout."
Despite the changes, Woods is convinced that the balance between modernisation and deference to tradition shown by Augusta National is just right. He said: “They’ve done an amazing job of modernising the golf course as the game has modernised, but meanwhile still keeping the same feel and the same look. It’s the same piece of property, but it’s neat to see how Augusta, for all their conditions and for how they honour the game of golf, but they’ve been at the forefront of modernising the game as well, so it’s been a perfect blend of keeping the history and traditions alive but also recognising that the game has modernised.”
Augusta National has regularly been lengthened over the years, with over 500 yards added this century. The bulk of that came between 2000 and 2010, with only 40 yards added in the decade to 2020. The latest changes see another 35 yards added to the length, bringing it to a record 7,510 yards. Woods tested the new-look course out for himself earlier this week with a practice round as speculation grows that he’s hoping to compete at this year’s tournament.
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.
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