04/10/2015

The week of the Masters tournament at Augusta National Golf Club should almost be a national holiday. If you’re a golf fan and at work, you’re operating at 30% of your capacity–if that.

Here was my tweet from Thursday’s opening round:

Blow up hole

As I was watching coverage of the round on Friday, shifting from Amen corner, to 15 & 16, then back to ‘featured group 2,’ I started thinking about the par-3, 12th.

It’s truly one of the best holes in all of golf.

After a simple brain-storming session, here’s why I believe so:

1. It’s 145-some yards, a short iron

The term ‘great hole’ and ‘difficult hole’ aren’t synonymous. A great hole doesn’t need to be intimidating in status or brute in appearance. A great hole simply needs to have character, variety, versatility and in order to be one of the great holes in golf, it needs to be iconic.

The par-3 12th at Augusta National is that.

Ranging from 130-160, the shot is no more than a short iron. For professionals, they hit anything from PW to 7-iron, depending on a few variables. It’s not a difficult shot on paper. Standing on the tee, I imagine it’s a different ball game.

I hope to have the chance someday, 8-iron in hand, to land one on the green on the 12th.

2. The tee box is so unassuming

With the patrons all crowded around it, the tee box seems natural. But without those patrons, the tee box sits seemingly, in the middle of a spacious field of grasses.

The box isn’t closed in by anything, no trees, no mounding, nothing. It’s so unassuming.

But when you think about it, that’s a redeemable quality. They knew what they had with the 12th in the nature of how the hole played. The designers didn’t need to promote it with anything additional around the tee.

Truly, a minimalistic approach–and I love it.

A drawing with no fans around the teeing area.

A drawing with no fans around the teeing area.

3. It comes at a perfect time in the round

As the 12th hole, it comes at a beautiful time in the round at the Masters. It’s on the back nine, where the pressure mounts and the shots weigh heavy. The shot truly matters, as every shot does (especially in a major), but it is allows golfers the chance to “make it up” if they have a hiccup.

Brandel Chamblee on the Golf Channel talked at lengths about it when comparing it to the par-3 17th at TPC Sawgrass. Chamblee believes that the 17th comes too late in the round and that a mistake is far too costly. A good shot with a bad break will cost golfers the tournament. And there’s too much at stake at golf’s “5th major.”

Those are Chamblee’s thoughts and I believe I agree with him.

4. It’s called ‘Golden Bell’

Before it was called “Golden Bell,” it was called “Three Pines.” But the name comes from the daffodil plant that grows behind the green, just beyond Rae’s creek (picture below).

Specifically named the “Forsythia” plant, it is a deciduous shrub, which blooms right around the time of Augusta National. I’ve never claimed to be a plant expert, so here’s a great article talking more about the plant from The Garden Helper.

So why is the name of the hole relevant to the quality of the hole? Good question.

When you consider another great par-3 in the world, let me ask you this: does it have a name? How about a name after a plant as gorgeous as the one pictured below? And does the stunning flower grow throughout the back side of the green among azaleas and pine needles?

Gorgeous.

TheMasters.com offers great content on ‘Golden Bell’

Screenshot 2015-04-10 13.31.48

A golden bell plant

5. The wind is unpredictable

With the towering pines sitting behind the green and the hole sitting at the bottom of the hill, the prevailing winds come down from the rest of the golf course and swoops over the top of the 12th hole.

The difficulty comes with the fact that the winds hit the trees, sometimes turning back around. The players have troubles reading the 12th’s wind on an annual basis. It adds to the drama, strategy and nerve that surrounds the epic par-3.

Players who flight the ball below the tree line have a significant advantage.

6. It is the ultimate ‘birdie-bogey’ par-3

With a solid shot, a controlled short iron, most of the pins are quite accessible. If you read the wind correctly (and catch some luck), while striking the ball the way you desire, a good shot yields on opportunity for birdie. It favors no players, simply a quality short iron shot.

But if you misread an element or take the shot too lightly (who could ever do that?), the hole can be a demon. Balls dribble into Rae’s creek. Balls plug in the front bunker. Balls scurry into the bunkers over the green, leaving an atrocious look at par from long. All of this happens, while fans eat pimento cheese sandwiches and sip on iced tea.

Escape with a par, and breathe easy.


Thanks for reading and enjoy the coverage this year!

And hey, I’ll throw you a bonus one to end the post:

7. The 12th hole is at Augusta National Golf Club and played during the Masters tournament, the greatest golf tournament in the world. If it needs a tie-breaker with any other par-3s in the world, this should suffice.

Happy Masters!