With the lengthening of Augusta National's fifth hole by roughly 40 yards, pros weigh in on the changes during the 2019 Masters


Pros Weigh In On Changes To Augusta’s 5th Hole

During the US Masters, Augusta National usually remains largely the same each year in terms of course length, pin positions and other factors. However, in 2019 one hole that had significant changes to it was the 5th and it had a drastic effect on scoring on the hole for the week. In 2020 we expect it to remain a tough challenge too.

Namely, the 5th hole had a new tee box. Sure it didn’t sound like much, but when we acknowledge that 40 yards had been added to it and it was already one of the hardest holes on the course, then we can all agree the difficulty went up a notch. As you can see from the picture below, the changes had a dramatic effect on the surrounding area.

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Ian Poulter on Instagram posted this picture on where the new fifth tee has been built (@ianjamespoulter)

The hole, named ‘Magnolia’, and its new tee box took it to 495 yards, making it the second-longest par-4 on the course, behind the 505-yard 11th. Indeed many of the players had a lot to say on the changes before 2019’s event.

Tiger Woods

“5, it’s just long. The bunkers, they are still deep. You know, I think they are unplayable to get the ball to the green. You have to be very lucky and get a situation that you might be able to get to the front edge of the green, but you need to stay out of those bunkers.  But it’s just really long.

It will be interesting to see what they do with the course setup on that hole. It been raining here. It’s soft. The fairways aren’t going to give it up. If that’s the case, I don’t know if we’re going to play it 495 every day. I’m sure it will be moved up, very similar to what we see on 7, sometimes on 1. Sometimes the tee boxes are moved up on 1. Other times, if it’s warm, they put it back.

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“There’s tremendous flexibility in how they create these tee boxes because they are so long.  You can move around the golf course, you can play it probably play it 7,400 if they want to play it on the short side and north of 7,500 if they want to play it on the long side. 

“It will be interesting to see how they set it up, but I’m sure that they will do an incredible job like they always do and present us with an incredibly tough test, but one that is extremely fair.”

Justin Rose

“I think No. 5 is probably going to play the toughest hole now for sure.

I hit driver, 4‑iron today and hit a good drive. That makes it much tougher because I feel like now you’re having to maybe think about ‑ especially, there’s a bit of rain coming possibly but if it did firm up a touch, now you’re thinking about hitting a long iron and kind of running it up a bit more links style up on to that green, where the hole was just short enough before where you were always hitting a mid‑iron, 7‑iron, 6‑iron, and always trying to land it up on the top for the most part. 

“Only if you were out of position were you having to run it up that ridge. I think the extra length, you might see more links style running shots.  That’s how I see the design of it, anyway. Whether the conditions allow that, we’ll see.”

Jordan Spieth 

“I think it is, because you never really relied on much roll on that tee ball, anyways.  It’s really hard.  It’s become ‑‑ between there and 11, I may even consider 5 a more difficult hole now.  I would have said 11 is the toughest hole on the course prior to the new No. 5, but it’s just, you know, if you take the bunkers out of play by hitting 3‑wood, like I used to; now you’re just pushed back another 30 yards or so, 35 yards from the green, and so it’s 3‑wood, 4‑iron or hybrid, or you can try and hit driver and the bunkers are essentially a penalty stroke, and you still have a mid‑iron in.

“So I’m struggling a little bit right now on how to play the hole, so I’ll have to figure that out over the next couple days.”

Dustin Johnson

“I thought it was a hard hole before.  They just made it a little bit tougher.  The green is a little bit less severe, but you’re coming in with a much longer iron.  I played it yesterday.  The pin was on the front right, I hit 7‑iron in.  But I played it last Wednesday and Thursday, and the pin was back both days and I hit 4‑iron both times. 

“It was a little into the wind, and pin was all the way back right.  It’s a long golf hole.”

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Francesco Molinari

“I played yesterday, the front nine, I played the new 5th hole, and because they moved the bunkers back as well, the tee shot is pretty much the same shot. The second shot, obviously is longer, considerably longer. So yesterday it was playing into the wind, and probably with the old tee, we would have been hitting 7‑iron in, and we were hitting 4‑iron in yesterday. 

“I think that’s going to be around a three‑club difference, and the green is a little bit different. I think there’s a possibility to put a new flag on the left. But yeah, I think on TV, it will look very similar to how it was, it will be hard for people watching on TV to notice the difference.”

Rickie Fowler

“No. 5, I think it actually makes the drive a little easier, as far as if you want to push it up where the bunkers are. 

“Today we couldn’t because it was back into the wind, so it was tough to get it into that area.  Beforehand, if you were going to hit driver you had to hug the bunkers pretty close and if you pushed it a little right you would go through the fairway. Now it’s a little bit more straight‑on where you have a little bit more room, if you hang it out to the right a little bit, you won’t run through quite as quickly.

“But it is a longer hole. They softened the green to allow for some longer clubs in there, adding the potential pin placement on the left side there. Today, back into the wind, I hit driver, 5‑iron.

“For me, it’s a love/hate relationship with 5.  I think it’s a tough second shot, just because – it is one of the bigger greens out here, but you have to be so precise where you’re landing it to put yourself in the right position. I think the changes there, I like. It’s a big golf hole now, especially back into the wind, but it will be interesting to see how it plays throughout the week.”

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Tommy Fleetwood

“It’s funny, because the tee shot is exactly the same, basically. The test off the tee, they brought the bunkers back so the yardages off your drive is exactly the same. But it does make a massive difference to the hole. 

“I think in the past, if you hit it into the bunkers, you actually had half a chance of getting it up somewhere by the green.  Now you’ve got no chance.

“I hit a good drive yesterday and the course is playing really soft and a bit long, and I hit 5‑iron in. You know that was like, good drive last year, if you can be aggressive with the driver, you know, wedge or 9‑iron to that middle part of the green is not a difficult shot. 

“I think definitely it’s a bigger test of a hole for sure.”

Bryson DeChambeau

“So I’ll tell you the shot shape is going to be the same for me. I try and hit the same shot pretty much on any hole except some holes where it’s a massive dog leg right. That’s the only time I’ll change it. 

But there are times you’ll have a 6‑iron, 5‑iron in. A lot of guys were hitting hybrids yesterday and I’m pretty impressed with that; it was a little into the wind. 

It’s difficult. It’s going to be a very difficult hole. I like that they shallowed out the green a little bit, flattened it a little bit and created a couple more accessible pins. I think it’s a great move, moving it away from the fourth green, the tee box away from the fourth green, that’s going to speed up play. Overall I think it’s a great design change.”

Kevin Kisner

The American matchplay winner also responded to the news earlier this year with tongue in cheek humour. Speaking to the Barstool Sports Podcast he said;

“This is a real shame cause I was expecting the 5th hole to be a safe bogey.

“I played it a few weeks ago and they changed number 5 to 495, so that adds another bogey for me.”

Heading into the 2020 tournament, the 5th will undoubtedly be playing tough once again.

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