Minor Masters Changes Create Flexibility for Inclement Weather

Augusta National Golf Club during The MastersWhen relatively unknown Iowan Zach Johnson captured his first Green Jacket at the 2007 Masters golf tournament, he did so with an unspectacular 1-over-par 289. That Masters week was one of the worst weather wise in recent memory, at least during the four days of tournament play.

After three days of heat, humidity and almost constant sunshine, temperatures dropped and winds whipped at Augusta National, creating hard and fast greens and borderline brutal conditions.

When Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, Billy Payne, announced relatively minor changes to the golf course for the 2009 edition of the event, there was some leeway put in place to move tee positions in the event of unsavory weather.

"As we've done nearly every year since the inception of the Masters, we evaluate the golf course and make refinements we think are necessary," Payne said. "This year, only minor changes were implemented and all were made in order to provide greater flexibility in the event of adverse weather conditions, which we have experienced the last couple of years."

The only change to the Masters scorecard comes on the opening hole, which was shortened by 10 yards by reducing the back tee seven yards and relocating the tee marker. The hole's yardage shifts from 455 to 445 yards.

This is the first time in 28 years that Augusta National Golf Club has been shortened, as the course's total yardage shrinks to 7,435.

Another hole that can be shortened if the tournament committee feels the urge to do so is the par-5 15th. Eight to nine yards were added to the front of the tee. Scorecard yardage remains 530 yards.

The seventh hole, which was lengthened from 410 to 450 yards in 2006, can now play shorter as well. An additional 10 yards was added to the front of the tee, but again, no yardage was added to the scorecard. Last year No. 7 was the third most difficult hole on the golf course, playing to a stroke average of 4.252.

Greens on Nos. 1, 5 and 6 were also rebuilt for agronomic reasons and heating and cooling systems were installed.

A few other changes were made that won't directly impact the competitors but will affect Augusta National's patrons.

The reduction of the opening hole's back tee will improve patron circulation between the tee and practice putting green. The release also stated that "significant progress" had been made toward the completion of the new, state-of-the-art practice facility, which is scheduled to be ready for 2010.

Also new for 2009, approximately 4,500 more parking spaces will be located west of Berckmans Road.


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