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Augusta Aims For Accuracy

I feel this year's changes will bring out that kind of unique emphasis on precision. For example, on number seven, players will need to think a little more. The tee is back another forty yards and trees have been added to both sides of the fairway. Instead of hitting a three-wood and a pitching wedge, you have to hit driver then a short iron. It just makes you a bit more conscious about where to aim your drive. The changes, especially the added rough, compound the choices you have from the tee. Should you try to go all the way down the hill and have a relatively short shot, or play it safer and have a longer iron in?Pin position, more than anything, will dictate club choice from the tee.

Tees also have been pushed back on holes one and eleven, both par fours, with trees added in the fairways to emphasize driving accuracy. The par-three fourth will also play longer—now 240 yards. On the par-five fifteenth, the tee has been moved back thirty yards and now plays up to 530. This hole has been pivotal in the outcome of the Masters over the years, and the powers that be have done a masterful job of maintaining its integrity. The risk-reward on the drive is much greater now, especially if you try to hook it around the corner.

Finally, with ten to fifteen yards added to seventeen, you now have two of the more demanding finishing holes in major-­championship golf. This is one change, however, that I question. There may be players who won't have the hang time to reach the crest of the hill and maybe not even get a tee shot past the Eisenhower Tree. In that case, they might not see the green surface from the fairway.

Critics will argue that this most recent round of changes will benefit the long hitters and limit the pool of potential champions. I can see that argument, but there is now a far greater premium placed on accuracy, so the advantage that goes to long hitters will only materialize if they keep it in play.

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