The Beauty of Augusta National’s 16th Hole
This is where the Masters may well be won and lost
For the first few Masters the 16th measured 145 yards and was protected by just a small stream in front of the green and, interestingly, the tee was to the right of the 15th green.
Then, after WWII, Robert Trent Jones moved the tee to the left and built the pond that we see today and positioned the green diagonally.
His son Robert Trent Jones Jr said: “Sixteen is one of his great pieces of golf art, the highest accolade you can pay in our business. There are lots of wonderful courses but only a few that when you walk in, like a Monet painting, you feel like you’re in the garden.”
It’s now only 25 yards longer these days but it’s served up all manner of treats and mischief over the years. Jon Rahm caught the early headlines in the week when he skipped his ball to a back pin and into the hole. Amateur Ross Somerville had the first hole-in-one in the first year of the Masters in 1934 – he hit a mashie niblick – and Justin Thomas made it 21 aces last year when he sunk his 8-iron.
The 1970 champion Billy Casper holds the unwanted record of the highest score when he ran up a 14.
The hole’s detractors say that the Sunday pin is simply a big plug hole that gathers the ball and, get your line and length right, you should be pretty adjacent. Get it wrong and you’ll face either a treacherous putt, chip, bunker shot or even another shot at it.
The really juicy pin position is when it’s on the back right shelf where the monotony of players’ balls rolling down the hill to the Sunday pin is occasionally broken as one or two can’t help themselves and leave themselves in the sand and, almost certainly, drop a shot. This was the Sunday pin at one stage before logic, and TV, said that the hole would move to the bottom of the slope.
Part of the beauty of it is its timing. Get the 12th wrong and you’ve got two par 5s in the next three holes to try and claw things back, get 16 wrong and you’re then faced with two stiff par 4s and your head, 70 holes in, in a mess.
The last time a winner did just that was when Trevor Immelman doubled it in 2008 - since then not one champion has dropped a shot and five of the past 11 winners have made a birdie on Sunday. Go back a little further and we have Tiger Woods at the back of the green playing one of, if not the most iconic shots in the history of the game.
“In your life have you seen anything like that?!’