It’s part of Augusta’s charm
How to play a second-shot course like Augusta.
"A difference of 10 or 15 metres might mean everything."
Augusta National is the quintessence of a second-shot golf course.Wide fairways prevent you from feeling like you’re in a straightjacket off the tee, but that doesn’t mean you can mindlessly whale away.The perceptive player recognises that his ability to attack the flag with the approach is largely determined by the drive – much more than on an average course.A difference in position of just 10 or 15 metres in the fairway might mean everything. On a second-shot course, you use the tee shot to truly create your second.
This type of design happens to be my favourite. To me, hitting driver is the most fun part of the game.A second-shot course encourages everyone to let it fly all day. Low-handicaps are engaged by the spectrum of conservative-to-aggressive choices off every tee. Beginners take comfort in the relative ease of starting with a ball in play.
Illustrated here is Augusta’s par-4 ninth, which runs back to the clubhouse. It’s a perfect example of the second-shot philosophy, though we could have analysed almost any par 4 on the property. – with max adler
REMEMBER THE WIND
Here’s a snag that might exist somewhere at your course, too. The ninth tee box at Augusta is nestled in a protected perch. You don’t sense the wind much, so you have to remember to pay attention to its strength and direction as you’re walking up the eighth.
JUST GET IT IN PLAY
Maybe you prefer to hit a fade, or you just like the idea of making sure you don’t take yourself out of the hole early. Either way, there’s plenty of room along the right. The tradeoff is a longer second shot, which is a real cost because of this tiny green. Come up just a few paces short with your approach, and the ball might roll 60 or 70 metres back down the hill. Go long, and you’ll face a delicate chip back across the green that could wind up in the same place. The consolation is, if you push the drive way right, there are windows in those trees. A well-judged punch from that pine straw can hold the green.
WORK THE ANGLE
On first glance, this wide fairway seems to say “hit it anywhere”. But a tee shot that’s worked right to left makes this 420-metre hole play shorter and easier. A really big drive that reaches the downslope with speed can roll all the way to the bottom. Now you’ve got a short-iron approach from the only flat spot in the fairway. Going into this small, three-tiered green, every metre closer makes a difference. Of course, the risk is commensurate with the reward. Overcook a drive into the left trees, and you’ll find that the angle of the green, along with the bunkers, make it impossible to hold.