Masters 2024: Augusta organisers rule out extending iconic 12th hole

Home » Masters 2024: Augusta organisers rule out extending iconic 12th hole

Masters organisers have ruled out modifying Augusta’s iconic 12th hole in the near future as golf tries to cope with players hitting the ball further.

The 155-yard par three, where players hit tee shots over a water hazard on to a narrow green, has seen some of the tournament’s most memorable moments.

“I’d say with 100% certainty it will not be lengthened during my tenure,” Augusta chairman Fred Ridley said.

“That’s almost like asking can we touch up the Mona Lisa a little bit.”

Limiting the distance that modern players hit the ball is an ongoing discussion among golf’s rulemakers, who want to help protect courses that are not long enough to cope with today’s 340-yard drives.

Augusta has been lengthened from 6,900 yards to 7,550 yards over the past two decades.

The latest change sees the par-five second hole – a downhnill dogleg left which many players reach the green in two shots – extended by 10 yards for this year’s Masters, which begins on Thursday.

Former Masters champion Vijay Singh suggested the 12th hole – Augusta’s shortest and known as Golden Bell – should also be extended.

“I think it would be a much more challenging hole if people were hitting a 6-iron or a 7-iron instead of a 9-iron or wedge,” said Singh, who won the tournament in 2000.

However, Ridley rejected the suggestion that an extra 10 yards would make it more challenging.

In 2016, defending champion Jordan Spieth saw his bid to retain the Green Jacket thwarted by a quadruple-bogey seven after putting two tee shots into the water.

In 2020, five-time champion Tiger Woods found the water three times on his way to a 10 – his highest single-hole score in a major tournament.

“I think the 12th hole on Augusta is the most iconic par three in the world,” said Ridley in his annual pre-tournament news conference on Wednesday.

“I’m not sure another 10 yards will make a difference. Players are hitting short irons but it doesn’t seem to matter, the hole is very difficult.”

The R&A and United States Golf Association plan to bring in a roll-back of ball technology which they believe would help solve the issue of distance.

Ridley said the Masters “support the decisions” made by the R&A and the USGA.

“I’ve said in the past that I hope we will not play the Masters at 8,000 yards, that is likely to happen in the not-too-distant future under current standards,” he added.

Meanwhile, Ridley said there are no plans to establish a formal pathway for LIV players to qualify for the Masters.

Defending champion Rahm has a lifetime exemption but has called for fellow LIV golfers to be able to “earn their way” into majors, although their chances are currently limited because of a lack of world ranking points on offer.

Ridley said the Official Golf World Rankings are “a legitimate determiner of who the best players in the game are” and because the Masters is an invitational event they can “adjust as necessary”.

However, he added: “It will be difficult to establish any type of points system that had any connection to the rest of the world of golf because they’re basically, not totally, but for the most part, a closed shop.

“Our goal is to have, to the greatest extent possible, the best field in golf, the best players in the world.

“Having said that, we never have had all the best players in the world because of the structure of our tournament.

“It’s an invitational. It’s a small field. We’ve always honoured our past champions, we also honour amateurs, but we do have flexibility.”

That flexibility allowed the tournament organisers to extend an invite to Chile’s Joaquin Niemann, who is ranked 91st in the world – only the top 50 in the world are guaranteed a spot via the rankings.

Ridley called Niemann’s inclusion a “great example” of their approach.

“If we felt that there were a player or players, whether they played on the LIV Tour or any other tour, who were deserving of an invitation to the Masters, we would exercise that discretion with regard to special invitations,” he said.

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