Augusta National, the venue for the Masters, has unveiled details of the changes made to its Par 3 Course, which was originally designed by architect George Cobb and built in 1958, ahead of the first Par 3 Contest in 1960.
Ahead of the 2023 tournament, work on the Georgia club’s short layout has included the rerouting of holes one to five, allowing more holes to be played alongside DeSoto Springs Pond. Trees have been removed to open up walking corridors and increase viewing options and spectator capacity. “The greens at holes one through five are now more contoured to foster greater excitement for well-played shots,” reads an article on the Masters website.
Those first five holes have also been sandcapped and feature an alternative variety of bentgrass to the club’s A-1. The new grass will serve as a testing ground, in a similar way to how the club transitioned from bermuda to bentgrass on the Par 3 Course in the late 1970s ahead of the main course in 1981.
The DeSoto Springs Pond dam at the centre of the course has also been rebuilt to better manage stormwater, and a new irrigation system has been added. The Par 3 Contest water fountain, previously located adjacent to the putting green, is now left of the seventh hole.
The course now measures 1,055 yards, with holes ranging from 70 to 155 yards.
View: a photo gallery of the renovated par-three course on the Masters website.
On the main course, in time for this year’s Masters, Augusta National has built a new teeing area on the par-five thirteenth.
“There's a great quote from Bobby Jones dealing specifically with the thirteenth hole, which has been lengthened over time, and he said that the decision to go for the green in two should be a momentous one,” said Augusta National and Masters Tournament Fred Ridley.
“And I would have to say that our observations of these great players hitting middle and even short irons into that hole is not a momentous decision.”
The tee now sits approximately eight feet higher and 35 yards further back, with the hole playing at 545 yards, with the potential for a player to take a drive over the left corner of the dogleg now reduced.
“To maintain what is one of most intimate settings on the golf course, substantial work was done to install trees and ornamentals around the teeing area,” reads an article about the changes on the Masters website. “It is one of the few spots on the course where players and caddies are set apart from the patrons. Also, new and improved television camera positions were added.
“Heating and cooling elements have been installed to improve agronomics at the tee and the entire hole was sandcapped to promote firm and fast conditions when elements allow for it.”
“We are intent on making sure that we maintain the design philosophy that Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie devised,” Augusta National and Masters tournament chairman Fred Ridley said in 2018. “And with the shot values that they thought were important, we have done what we felt was appropriate through the years to maintain that philosophy and those design parameters.”