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The new 13th figures to be a fixture of this year’s Masters.
Change makes enemies of us all. Especially, it turns out, when that change comes at a place revered for its commitment to consistency.
At its core, the Masters is a tradition. It’s right there in the tagline. A tradition unlike any other. That sort of moniker comes with the expectation that the Masters will remain, well, the Masters, no matter how the world changes around it.
The hard part about maintaining the Masters “tradition,” however, is that it means different things to different people. For some, that’s Bobby Jones. For others, that’s pimento cheese. And more often than not, commitment to retain one piece of the tournament history means leaving behind the others.
This year, the Masters tradition will see its largest competitive change in some time. In an effort to blunt the slowly advancing forces of golf’s equipment, the club has elected to move back the tee box on its famed par-5 13th hole by 35 yards.
The change has been made to restore the hole to its original architectural intent, backing the 13th tee all the way to the boundary of nearby Augusta Country Club. For more players, No. 13 will now play as a three-shot hole or at least a present a tougher challenge for those getting to the green in two, blunting the eagle opportunities that have become so common at No. 13 over the last decade.
Of course, it’s a change that is intended to protect the competitive integrity of the Masters. Those ancient records and rules that form this “tradition” for so many will remain historically significant rather than bowled over by the advances of modern technology. But the new No. 13 also promises to change the hole as those who have participated in recent Masters history know it. Here, according to a handful of pros, is their opinion on the new changes.
“It’s longer. (Laughing.) It’s a lot longer. Definitely harder. I think with modern technology and that tee shot — I used to hit 3-wood there because I can sling-hook a 3-wood. I can’t sling-hook a driver on purpose. That hole was one where I’d hit the same shot I hit on 10. The 3-wood, it has enough spin where the ball can actually stay in the air. With the driver, when I hook it, the ball doesn’t have enough spin to where it can stay in the air and hook that much. It kind of nosedives. But the 3-wood, I can sit up there and it will just be like a boomerang.
But that’s really the biggest change for me. Now I’ll just hit driver kind of out towards the corner and try and use more of the contouring to get the ball that way versus before — I should say it this way: My driver is now going where my 3-wood kind of used to go. My 3-wood I could maybe get it a little bit further around the corner, but my driver is now going to where that 3-wood was before.” — Scottie Scheffler
“With the tee  yards back, shorter hitters won’t get it around the corner and longer hitters [might avoid] the trees. Put it in the pine straw on 13 and it wasn’t really a go-for-it situation. But with 3-wood, longer hitters probably won’t get it around the corner [either]. It’s one of those things, I guess—they’re gonna keep extending golf courses, and it’s gonna be more difficult.” —Brooks Koepka
“It will change the hole. It’s now driver [off the tee] and maybe a long iron into the green. Will they take out trees on the bend? That’ll determine how much harder it is when it comes to goin’ for it in two. There’s probably gonna be a lot more lay-ups, which, I mean—a few years ago, they wanted the roars back on Sunday. Now you’re takin’ away the roars? That’s kind of weird.” —Bubba Watson
“I think it’s now lengthened to the point where, if you hit driver, you’re going to have to snap-hook it—and hopefully not hit the trees. In the past, if you wanted to just hit a straight shot, you hit 3-wood. I always tried to hit driver because I didn’t want to hit a hybrid or a 4-iron off of that crazy hook slope. So I think the change will make the hole hard. I kind of wish they hadn’t lengthened 15 as much. That hole was very dramatic and very fair the way it was. It’s nice to have holes you can reach [in two] at Augusta.” —Xander Schauffele
James Colgan is an assistant editor at GOLF, contributing stories for the website and magazine. He writes the Hot Mic, GOLF’s weekly media column, and utilizes his broadcast experience across the brand’s social media and video platforms. A 2019 graduate of Syracuse University, James — and evidently, his golf game — is still defrosting from four years in the snow. Prior to joining GOLF, James was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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