Masters-Winning Caddie On How To Play Augusta National

We catch up with Masters-winning caddie Brennan Little who offers some insight on how to tackle Augusta...

Brennan Little pictured caddying
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Veteran Masters-winning caddie Brennan Little describes how to play The Masters course.

Little was on the bag for Mike Weir in 2003 when the Canadian defeated Len Mattiace in a playoff. Now, he is Gary Woodland's caddie and was with the American during his 2019 US Open triumph at Pebble Beach.

Here, he gives us a fascinating look into Augusta National...

What's the key to Augusta?

Well, Augusta’s just tough all around, but the key is getting it in the right spots around the greens, and really dealing with the challenge of the wind. If the wind is blowing and swirling a lot in the trees. Off the tee nowadays actually it’s gotten a lot tougher, you actually have to drive a lot better, there’s a little bit of rough. But really the key to Augusta is getting it on the green in the right spots. If you’re going to miss the greens there, you’ve got to do it in the right spots too because then you can get it up and down. If you short side yourself at Augusta then it’s bogey. It’s really the ultimate in managing from a player’s and caddie’s standpoint of managing your game. Granted, you have to be sharp in all aspects, but you really have to be smart where you hit it.

How much do lean on your experience when you caddie for a less experienced player?

Obviously my first two years, when Mike and I were there, the good thing about playing the course was that it’s the same course every year, unlike the other Majors with new golf courses, I can pretty much tell you where to hit it at Augusta and where not to. It’s not always a guarantee that we’re going to do that, and unfortunately sometimes we’re going to hit it in some bad spots. Between Gary [Woodland, who Little now caddies for] and I, once I’ve been around that place 100 times, I know the spots to hit it, and I know where not to hit it. Now it’s just a matter of doing that. It’s just great to know a golf course and be around it so many times. I can tell you know about the course without basically even a yardage book. 

Take us around the challenge of Amen Corner, how do we deal with possibly the three most important holes on the course?

On 11, you’ve got to get it in the fairway, that’s the key. The second shot as far as a target, we always kind of play right at the three trees at the center of the green. If it’s a long iron in, you’ve just got to play it out middle to right side of the green and if the pin’s front left, if it’s anywhere near the left then you know you can’t mess with anything over on that side. You’ve just got to take your lumps, those are just really, really fast putts going to the left there and you just can’t really afford to hit it left, because then you’ve got to go to the drop zone and then you’re making six. That’s a hole where you see everyone practising around the green hitting chips and little bumps from the right side obviously because that’s where you are a lot of the time, but that’s just a tough hole. Just tell yourself it is what it is. You hit a good shot there and you might be thirty, forty feet away from the hole, and that’s just what you do. There are certainly some holes that you try to take advantage of, especially the par 5s, but that’s not one of them.

What are you thinking on the tee box at 12?

12 to me is all on the wind. It’s not a hard hole to me if there’s no wind. But if it’s blowing it becomes a super-hard hole. You really don’t know where the wind’s coming from, then you really have to play it safe all of the time. For a front left pin, you can hit a wedge, sometimes even a sand wedge if you play it in the morning and the greens are a little softer, these guys with a wedge in their hand can make birdies, or you can have a good chance to make birdies. If the wind is blowing, then it’s a totally different ball game. Obviously you can’t come up short because if you do drop it, then it’s just not an easy shot either. If you catch the wrong gust and you fly it back in the pine straw, that’s just so tough to get up and down as well. Anything just over the green there on the left you can hybrid it up close or chip it up close to the hole. The back bunker is 50/50, it’s usually ok. That hole totally depends on the wind. If it is windy you’ve got to play it a little smarter, and if it’s not then you know in the back of your mind that it’s gettable.

You like to say take advantage of the par 5s, so when you get to thirteen, what is the mindset?

In 13, first you’ve got to get it in the fairway, it’s a gettable hole obviously. It’s a big, sweeping dogleg left, so you can hit driver over the corner, which is kind of a riskier play, but you can really get it up there for a short second shot. If you do that and accidentally hit the trees and it comes down, then you’ve got to drop it and you’re on the left over there and that angle makes it difficult. The play over there is in my opinion turn it around the corner. If you don’t turn it then you’re up in the trees on the right side and you can run it down and hit a wedge in. If you do turn it nicely, it kind of banks off the fairway and rolls down a bit for you.

You’ll have anywhere from 4-or-5-iron in there and sometimes hybrid if you really roast it you might have a 6-iron approach shot. Now the second shot, understandably plays a little bit long into that green but it just depends on where the pin is. You kind of play for the middle of the green is and take your lumps depending on where the pin is, if it’s all the way back then you play it up the middle. You generally don’t try to run it up the hill, you want to play to the bottom of the hill. The pin on the left back you play it up the middle to pin high and lag it close. The pin on the back right, you know that can be accessible because you know you can hit it up the middle of the green and let it roll off the slope. So that’s the time when you see a lot threes there. But if you hit it in the fairway, then you’ll have a decent iron shot and then you’re thinking about making a four.

How comfortable are you at Augusta now versus when you were younger?

You watch The Masters as a kid and you’re so excited to see it in person and then you start caddying you find out where all of the pins are and hole locations for the week as you’re walking practice rounds you mark all of the locations. In my book, I’ve got where the straight putts are for the pins pretty much on every hole location, just on a clock like 7 o’clock from 6, 8, 10 feet whatever it is. I have a pretty good idea on putting around there.

You can listen to the full interview with Brennan Little on every single hole at Augusta in the Beyond the Clubhouse Podcast here: https://apple.co/38pSDPn

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Garrett Johnston
Garrett Johnston

Garrett Johnston is a golf reporter and presenter who’s covered pro golf for 12 years including over 30 majors. His goal each year is always to “grow with the rookies” on Tour. The idea is to get to know the superstars before they become household names. Tony Finau, Gary Woodland, and Patrick Reed are just some of the players Johnston has covered from their early pro careers for their hometown newspapers. Johnston’s favorite event is always The Open, and he credits his unforgettable experience covering the 2015 Open at St. Andrews where he got to interview Tom Watson (in his final Open) and winner Zach Johnson exclusively throughout the week as his favorite event so far. Johnston has also developed a strong rapport with Tour caddies and regularly contributes to Caddie Network and Golf.com. He also has his own podcast: Beyond The Clubhouse (opens in new tab)