10 Of The Toughest Shots At Augusta

A selection of Augusta's trickiest tests, from the daunting 12th to the tempting 15th

toughest shots at augusta
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To win The Masters a player must display total control of their game and the ability to execute an array of testing shots. Here we look at 10 of the toughest shots at Augusta.

10 Of The Toughest Shots At Augusta

Augusta National is known for asking exacting questions of the players.

It’s a layout that demands precision and commitment and, through the course of the tournament, each competitor will frequently find himself in a situation where only a perfect stroke will do.

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Here we take a look at 10 of the toughest shots at Augusta.

10 Of The Toughest Shots At Augusta

4th tee shot

The testing 4th tee shot

Angel attempts the tough tee shot on the par-3 4th

This is an extremely difficult par-3 stretching to 240 yards. The players will be firing a long-iron, hybrid or even a wood downhill to a daunting target. Bunkers wait front left and right and trees surround the surface. When the pin is in the front portion of green, there’s almost nothing to aim at: The pressure is firmly on here as only a perfectly struck long shot will do.

11th second shot

Second to the 11th

It's even harder from the rough!

The 11th ranked as the hardest hole on the course last year once again, playing an average 4.48 with just 10 birdies on the hole all week. Although it’s also a tough drive, this was largely because of the difficulty of the second shot. With the hole measuring 505 yards, all but the very longest hitters will be coming in from 200 yards or more with their approach. It’s downhill to a green that’s protected short and left by water. Anything turning towards the hazard will kick, or feed, in that direction and will inevitably end up wet. The bail-out is to the right, but players know that this will leave a hugely difficult chip, back across a green sloping away to the water.

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12th tee shot

The daunting tee shot on the par-3 12th

The daunting tee shot on the par-3 12th

This one shouldn’t be too difficult for the top pros. Just 155 yards, it’s just an eight or nine iron. But, it’s one of the most feared shots on the course. A key reason for this is the swirling wind in this section of “Amen Corner.” It could be blowing one direction on the 11th green and a completely different one on the 12th. This leads to indecision and there’s a significant hazard to punish any indecision here – Rae’s Creek. Anything coming up short will end up wet (unless your name is Fred Couples,) but going long isn’t clever either with azaleas and tough bunkering waiting through the putting surface. The challenge is to get the distance absolutely spot on.

13th tee shot

13th tee

Jordan doesn't get it quite right

The 13th is an eminently reachable par-5 but it requires a perfectly shaped tee shot to do so. The hole turns from right to left and the ball must follow this curve exactly on the drive. If the tee shot is too straight, it will end up running through the fairway and into the pine straw under the trees. A ball turning too aggressively could end up in Rae’s Creek or in the dense foliage to the left of the hazard. This shot requires a player to fully trust their ability to shape the ball.

15th second shot

Ernie second to 15th

Ernie second to 15th

The second of two reachable par-5s on the back nine, this one invites the player to have a crack at reaching in one better than regulation. But to make it, and hold the putting surface, requires a shot of the highest quality. An approach slightly mishit, or under-clubbed, will find the water. There’s also water through the green if a player is overly bold.

If a player is chasing, they’ll be inclined to go for it, but it’s hugely intimidating as they know the shot must be flighted perfectly to find the green.

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18th tee shot

This is an incredibly daunting drive down an extremely narrow, tree-lined corridor. The ideal shot is a late fade – a ball that travels dead straight for the majority of its flight and then falls gently to the right as it reaches the end of its trajectory. Any ball misdirected slightly, or turning to sharply, will strike trees. For those in contention, there can be no relaxing until this final drive is sent safely away.

And now, some of the most challenging possible short shots…

Bunker shot from right of 16 when pin is on the top level

16th bunker shot

Whoaa ball, just stay there!

Missing the green right on the 16th when the pin is on the top, right-hand level leaves a hugely difficult shot. From the sand on that side, the splash shot must be exceptionally precise. Just too hard and the ball will tumble all the way down the slope to the bottom of the green, too cute and it will stay in the hazard. This is a shot requiring the deftest touch.

Putting from the back of the 9th to a front pin

The three-tiered 9th green

The three-tiered 9th green

The 9th is a three-tiered green sloping from back to front. To judge a putt correctly from the very back to the very front of the surface is extremely tricky. The player will feel like he just has to get the ball in motion, as anything struck too firmly could run past the cup and even off the green and down the slope at the front, leaving a long pitch back. But too soft a touch will leave the player facing the same predicament for his second putt.

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Chip or bunker shot from beyond 12th green

If a player has erred on the side of caution on this short hole, avoiding the water by striking the tee shot too firmly, he will face a terrifying shot back. Either from the sand, the azaleas or the collection area, he will need nerves of steel and a silky touch to lift the ball onto the surface and stop it before it rolls away off the other side and down into Rae’s Creek.

Chipping back from over the green on the 15th

Chipping from through the 15th

Get up... no get down... hit the pin... do something!

Again, like the 12th, missing long rather than short on the 15th is preferable as, at least you won’t be incurring a penalty for pulling it out of the water (as long as you haven't gone too far)… not yet at least. The shot back to the 15th green from down the slope behind the surface requires great finesse, particularly if the pin is at the back. Getting the ball to stop near, or just by the cup will require perfect touch. Not hard enough and the ball could come back down the slope, too firm and it could roll away towards the water at the front… Not one for the fainthearted!

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Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?