According to an earlier Golfweek report, Augusta National officials are in negotiations with neighboring Augusta Country Club to purchase a tract of land that borders the 12th and 13th holes. The acquisition could serve multiple functions, including the installation of a new service road, but reportedly it could also allow the club to lengthen No. 13 by as much as 50 yards.
The hole, which measured as short as 465 yards during Nicklaus’ playing career, is now listed at 510 yards on the scorecard.
“The tee shot at 13 would be helped by a little bit of length. Yeah, I think it would be. I don’t think there’s any question about that,” Nicklaus said. “Guys now take it over the top of everything, or take a 3-wood even over the top of everything. I used to be able to do that, too, but the trees were about half the size.”
Bubba Watson notably had only a sand wedge in for his approach during the final round in 2014 after hitting a 360-yard drive over the trees that guard the left side of the fairway, and Nicklaus feels that the original difficulty of the hole has slowly been eroded over the years.
“I think with the length the guys hit the ball today, it’s a little easier than it needs to be,” he said. “It’s not really a par 5 the way it is. It is, but it isn’t. And I would think a little length would not hurt that.”
Nicklaus echoed an earlier comment from Phil Mickelson that the potential changes might only affect a handful of players who can currently cut the corner on the dogleg hole. As equipment and player strength continue to evolve, though, he remains confident that Augusta National will be able to protect its famed layout against the advances in distance made by the field.
“Augusta, they have done a really good job of changing the golf course to suit the times,” he said. “I think they have done a better job than anybody. They can well afford that, though, but not many people can.”