'Just Helped The Bombers More' - Pros Weigh In On New Augusta 13th

The new lengthened 13th at Augusta benefits the big-hitters while some worry it will take the risk-reward aspect out of the hole

Kevin Kisner at the 2023 Masters
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There consensus among the players at the Masters is that the lengthened 13th hole will now predominantly be a lay-up during tournament play, but not everyone is so happy about the changes made to the hole.

The iconic par-five, known as Azalea on the card, has been stretched from 510 to 545 yards thanks to a new tee box, and with the soft conditions expected at the 2023 Masters it could play a lot longer during the tournament.

Kevin Kisner feels that the changes have “just helped the bombers more” while there are concerns among several players that effectively taking an eagle out of the equation can take away some of the excitement from the end of Amen Corner.

Dustin Johnson is among those who can reach the green in two with a relatively short iron, but it now takes an almost perfect drive to be within range, and Kisner, who played with the 2020 Masters champion, says the big hitters are the ones to benefit from the changes.

"I got to lay-up, just like I do on most of the par-fives now," Kisner said. "DJ hit an awesome one. He got to hit a mid-iron in there, so that was good. Yeah, just helped the bombers more."

“You’ve got to hit a perfect drive to have a chance now, where you could get away with more of a right shot, now if you bail out to the right you got no chance to go for it.

“The second shot, if I can hit a perfect one I’ve still got a difficult 3-iron or 4-iron off a side hill lie whereas I used to be able to get a six or five.”

Rory McIlroy is among the fans of the changes, saying players being forced to muscle a longer iron over the creek and onto the green means that more skill is needed to have a shot at an eagle.

However, with even Johnson saying that it’ll likely be a lay-up for him on all four days of the tournament, there are concerns that if it’s played at its full length on Sunday it would neutralize the jeopardy of the hole.

“With adding that extra length, you can't cut as much of that corner. You can't get far enough down that left side,” 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed said. “I think it'll take a little bit of the excitement out of that on 13.”

While scoring is expected to remain around the same for what is the easiest hole on the course over the history of the Masters, it’s the prospect of the hole becoming a lay-up birdie hole – taking out that risk-reward factor – that is a slight concern.

“If anything, it will make a lot more people lay-up. It may be less doubles,” said Bryson DeChambeau. “It will be a lot more neutral scoring. There won’t be as many doubles and eagles.”

“I think it's spectacular,” said another former winner Fred Couples, who played alongside Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Tom Kim.

Rory McIlroy, Fred Couples and Tiger Woods during a Masters practice round

(Image credit: Getty Images)

“Today was a day where the ball wasn't really going as far,” he added. “Rory hit one bomb there, and I think he went at the green with a 5-iron maybe.

“But Tiger and I laid up, Tom Kim actually knocked it on with a wood. It's reachable; it's just a very good hole.”

Of course, Augusta National can simply move the tee forward to where it was last year to tempt players to go for it more on Sunday if they wish, but at it’s full length it seems that only those in desperate need will be taking the risk.

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.