Three holes at Augusta get more column inches than any other thanks to a name with which they were first christened in the late 1950s: Amen Corner
Amen Corner: Augusta National’s Fearsome Trio
The whole golfing world is waiting with bated breath to see the fabled Amen Corner return to our screens at the US Masters…But what actually is it?
If you thought that Amen Corner was the term for the whole of the 11th, 12th and 13th holes around the lowest point of the Augusta layout, you’re only almost right!
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For although that is what the terms now almost universally means, when it was first penned by renowned golf writer, Herbert Warren Wind in a Sports Illustrated article in 1958, it was designed to add extra clout and excitement to the spell from the approach shot on 11 through to the tee-shot on 13.
In others words, all the action you can readily watch from the same spot on the 12th hole.
Inspiration for the phrase came from a 1930s jazz record entitled “Shoutin’ in that Amen Corner”, which Wind remembered from the 1930s.
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Whatever Amen Corner now means, there’s little doubt that in almost every Masters, some of the most telling action will unfold around one of the toughest par 4s on the course in the 11th hole, the devilishly tricky 12th – “Golden Bell” – and the ingenious par-5 13th where Kipling’s ‘two imposters’ of triumph and disaster lurk in equal measure.
The list of who’s messed up around Amen Corner though the years is too long to recount here, although we will mention a few…
It was, of course, here in 1996 that Greg Norman finally relinquished his lead over Nick Faldo, missing a short putt on 11 and then rolling back into the water on 12 for an untimely double.
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Three years earlier, Dan Forsman, had gone two better – or worse – with a quadruple bogey, finding water from the tee on 12 and then again with a wedge from the fairway while vying for the lead.
But both pale into insignificance compared to Tom Weiskopf, who hit five in the water here in 1980 en route to a 13, the highest individual hole score relative to par in Masters history.
Those nearby at the time would have done well to invoke the ‘Don’t’ speak to Tom right now’ rule!
Others have responded to the mental pressure of the 12th tee shot by hitting a stone-cold shank, among them Jack Nicklaus in 1995, and more recently Peter Hanson, 2012’s Saturday night leader, who didn’t even trouble Rae’s Creek with his!
However, as Amen Corner disasters go, it’s hard to beat Rory’s in 2011. Having made a complete hash of 10, he was probably not in the right frame of mind for the challenges of Amen Corner, but responded well with two good shots into 11… followed by three putts from no great distance.
Worse was to come on 12, where a decent iron shot created a bounce-back birdie chance.
He walked off with a double-bogey after taking four putts to finally get the ball underground!
One smother-hooked drive on 13 later, and his race was well and truly run, one of the most high-profile victims of Amen Corner from a cast of thousands.
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Then of course in 2016 we witnessed defending champion Jordan Spieth find Rae’s Creek on 12 off the tee before completely fatting another one straight into it, he made seven after bogeying the 11th, derailing his hopes of a second Green Jacket.
In 2019 the 12th proved pivotal during the tournament as several players at the top of the leaderboard found the water. This included Francesco Molinari, Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau and Ian Poulter, whereas Tiger Woods found the green and went on to win the tournament.
One thing’s for sure – someone, sometime, will again fall victim to Amen Corner and Augusta’s fearsome trio.
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