The architects are at it again at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, with the par-5 13th having been stripped of grass, what appears to be drainage work laid under the fairway and the very real possibility that the famed dogleg-left will play longer in the 2023 Masters.
Eureka Earth, a Twitter handle of Augusta-based flight instructor David Dobbins, frequently posts aerial photos of Augusta National. His latest shots posted to Twitter on Monday show the 13th fairway receiving heavy construction work and what could be a new tee box on land that was purchased in recent years from the adjacent Augusta Country Club.
Augusta National made no comment on the work being done – early privacy in such matters of course renovation is customary for the exclusive club.
If it is a tee box being constructed behind a row of trees that currently grows behind the longtime back tee, the hole could be stretched some 40-60 yards. In recent years the par 5 named Azalea has played 510 yards, but strong players with modern equipment have been able to bash the ball down the left side of the dogleg to set up short irons and sometimes even wedges into the green for the second shots. Many players tee off with a 3-wood to more easily hit a big draw than with a modern driver, and they still often have irons in their hands for approach shots into the green in two.
If the construction shown in Eureka Earth’s photo is a tee box that is put into play, players would be required to hit a tee shot of at least some 310-330 yards to get around the corner of the dogleg, guarded by tall pine trees and a creek, to set up any chance to reach the green in two shots. Even for most modern pros, that means driver off the tee.
Eureka Earth’s photos show what appears to be a squared-off area in recently cleared dirt behind the row of trees. The trees would have to come down, if it is indeed a new tee box, providing players a chute through which they can hit their tee shots.
Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley said in his press conference ahead of the 2022 Masters that there was no timetable for when the club might stretch the 13th hole, but he did say it was a possibility. “That’s something that certainly we have considered and will continue to consider,” Ridley said.
The club is unlikely to make any announcement about the hole until much closer to the Masters in April, assuming the recent aerial photos do show a new tee box. Much work was done to the course last year and Eureka Earth captured photos of the work in progress, most noticeably to the 11th and 15th holes, but Augusta National officials did not comment on the renovations until February.
Eureka Earth also recently shot photos of heavy lifting on the par-3 course, with the possibility that several holes will be adjusted before the traditional par-3 event the Wednesday before the Masters starts in 2023.
The private course, ranked No. 3 among all classic courses in the U.S., is closed each summer, and the club normally takes on a variety of projects to the layout.