When Augusta National chose Fazio to alter its course to stay abreast of the added length that new balls and clubs are affecting, it chose one of the very best. Fazio spoke about the project on TGC's Golf Talk Live. Following is his comments about each of the holes he cosmetically altered:
HOLE NO. 1 ' From where the spectator sees it, the hole hasnt changed at all. But with the tee moving back and to the left, that hole is 23 yards longer, and that brings the bunker more into play. Its been reshaped so that it has the design principle that it was intended to have - the hazard feature on the right side of the hole. Todays players, todays golf balls and todays golf courses ' the bunker did not come into play for 70 percent of the field. Now, that bunker will come into play.
Mark OMeara and Tiger Woods wrote an article a couple of weeks ago about playing the finished course. It reminded me of Pinehurst No. 2 during the Open few years ago which Payne Stewart won. That Open happened to come in weather, which was misty and cloudy and wet. The golf course played substantially longer than it normally would have played in the summer months. Its not the same golf course that Tiger and Mark will play in April. I doubt that Tiger will hit a 6-iron on the first hole.
HOLE NO. 7 - If you just put down on paper 410 yards, and the golf ball can be hit by todays tour players from 290 to 310 ' subtract that 310 from 410 and that leaves 100 yards. So they can still use a sand wedge.
I think on No. 7, the intent of that golf hole originally was the narrow landing area necessitated by the trees, and you had to drive it in position. Many players in the 60s and 50s - and maybe the early 70s - would lay up off the tee with a 3-wood or maybe an iron. As Mark OMeara said in his article last week, where he could hit a 2-iron and a 9-iron or a pitching wedge, he now he has to hit a driver or 3-wood and a 9-iron or pitching wedge.
This goes back to what the intent of the golf course was. As Mr. (Hootie) Johnson (Augusta National chairman) said at the press conference last year, the intent was not to be playing 425, 435-yard par-4s with driver and pitching wedge or sand wedge.
HOLE NO. 8 - The additional 20 yards will be substantial on this hole because of the angle of moving the tee to the right. I believe that the yardage on 8 will bring the bunker more into play, which was the intent.
HOLE NO. 9 ' It now plays 460 yards. I think well see the David Duvals, Phil Mickelsons and other long hitters hit 7-, 8-, 9-irons into this green.
Again, it has to do with the weather. But I believe the longer length of this hole, along with tree plantings which have been placed on the right side of the hole, will put a little bit more premium on that tee shot and make the 9th hole the strong hole it was intended to be. The crosswalks have been moved almost every year where the gallery crosses the hole because the ball keeps going further and further into the crosswalk.
HOLE NO. 11 - I stood there and watched Phil Mickelson hit a pitching wedge because of his tee shot and position. (Ben Hogan commented that if he ever hits the No. 11 green, its because he has pulled his approach shot.) But I dont believe that todays players are going to be aiming away from that green when they are hitting 9-irons and pitching wedges and sand wedges (Hogan hit a 5-iron.) They (todays players) are going to be aiming right at it.
The only thing thats been done by lengthening the tee shot is to have the landing area back where it was within the original intent of the golf hole.
HOLE NO. 13 ' The new addition thats been added here, I dont believe its going to be a substantial change. Just getting over the fact of change - if you had a par-5 that was a 3-wood, 7- or 8-iron, would you say that has the maximum strength it could have? No, you wouldnt. You would say, Lets make it long enough where we can put a driver in the players hand. But if they want to hit a 3-wood, they can hit a 3-wood, just to put it in position.
So this adjustment, I dont think its going to be major. But I think its going to be enough to affect play.
HOLE NO. 18 - I have a hard time accepting the comment that its a major change. I dont see it as a major change. The tee has been moved back and to the right. What its done is make the hole play ' my opinion ' almost the same way it would have played in the 60s. Duval and Mickelson and Tiger and McCarron, theyre going to be hitting 6-, 7-, 8-irons, even with the new length.
The bunkers off the left are the target feature and also the hazard for the hole. As we know, trees were added to the left of the hole. I believe Cliff Roberts added those for Tom Weiskopf, who used to drive it left of the bunker down into the open spaces.
The wonderful thing about golf is that everybody has an opinion. And theres no absolute answer.