Augusta National Golf Club is probably the most famous golf course in the world. The only course to annually host a major championship, the exclusive layout is thrust into the spotlight for the Masters every April. Despite being very private with a restricted membership list, many golf fans know the Augusta National track as well as their local home course.
Players will once again attempt to make their way around the famed layout at this week's Masters. The course was lengthened significantly, and quite publicly, and it remains a challenging test for the best in the world. While it's undergone significant change to ensure it remains a challenge, Augusta National is never going to be confused with a U.S. Open level setup. Low scores can be had and rounds in the 60s will likely be prevalent. Those scores won't come easy, however, as the track requires precise and consistent play. It can bite quickly and severely if things aren't going well.
For the most part, Augusta National is the same course it was last year. Although there haven't been drastic changes, there will be a couple differences, including the absence of one notable course landmark.
No. 1 Tee Olive - 455-yard Par-4
The first hole is less inviting than it seems - Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka, Getty Images
Take a quick look at the opening hole at Augusta National and it appears to be a relatively soft landing to start the round. Looks can be deceiving and No. 1 is traditionally one of the harder holes on the course. The slight dogleg doesn't provide much of a challenge, but the uphill layout and undulating green do. Longer hitters may attempt to drive through the dogleg, but will need to carry their drive roughly 300 yards to clear the fairway bunker on the right. Whether it's with a wedge or a high-iron, players will need to be delicate with their approach shot into the green. The green on No. 1 is full of slope. Put your approach in the wrong spot and you'll be lucky to come away with a two-putt.
No. 2 Pink Dogwood - 575-yard Par-5
A GIR at No. 2 will leave a good chance at birdie - Photo Credit: USA Today Sports
If players drop a shot early, they'll have a good opportunity to make it up on the next hole. The second hole at Augusta is historically the third-easiest on the course. A dogleg left, players will hit a draw -- or a fade for lefthanders -- off the tee. A solid tee shot will allow nearly the entire field to go for the green in two. While birdies, and even eagles, can be had, players will need to avoid the two bunkers guarding the front sides of the large green. Those who successfully find the green with their second shot will be in great position for at least a birdie. This was also the scene of Louis Oosthuizen's historic double-eagle two years ago.
No. 3 Flowering Peach - 350-yard Par-4
The third hole is tempting for longer hitters - Photo credit: Harry How, Getty Images
The shortest Par-4 on the course, No. 3 is one of the few holes at Augusta that hasn't undergone significant change in recent years. Longer hitters might be tempted to go for the green off the tee, but nearly everyone will opt for a long iron or fairway wood. Players who do layup will need to avoid four fairway bunkers on the left. If weather conditions are ideal and there is a back pin placement, a few players might pull out a driver. A solid layup off the tee will leave a short iron or wedge into the severely sloped green. The green slopes from left to right and coming up short usually results in trouble. Historically, the hole plays as the 14th hardest on the course, but scoring opportunities depend largely on where the pin is. A challenging Sunday pin placement won't yield very many birdies.
No. 4 Flowering Crab Apple - 240-yard Par-3
It's easy to find trouble off the fourth tee - Photo credit: Mike Ehrmann, Getty Images
The first Par-3 is the longest on the course and one of the most-challenging holes at Augusta National. The hole plays downhill, but most players will still hit a long iron or even a fairway wood off the tee. The L-shaped green is protected with two bunkers in the front. The right side is guarded with a large, deep bunker with a smaller trap on the left. The right bunker typically provides more of an issue as the left includes a bit of an uphill slope, making it an easier up-and-down. The green is sloped from back-to-front. If that wasn't enough, the hole often features a deceptive wind. Club selection on No. 4 is vital.
No. 5 Magnolia - 455-yard Par-4
Avoiding the fairway bunker is a key off the tee at No. 5 - Photo credit: USA Today Sports
Another challenging hole, the Par-4 fifth has a little bit of everything. The dogleg left hole plays uphill, making it longer than the listed yardage. A pair of bunkers guard the left side of the fairway near the landing area. Land in one of those off the tee, and bogey or worse becomes likely. If players avoid issue off the tee, they'll have a middle iron to one of the hardest greens on the course. The green slopes severely from back to front. Go too long and you'll find a small bunker or roll down a slope and into brush and trees. The green, as most of them are at Augusta, is challenging and many players will be happy to come away with a par.
No. 6 Juniper - 180-yard Par-3
The sixth green is among the trickiest at Augusta - Photo credit: USA Today Sports
Another classic hole that has remained unchanged for more than 40 years. No. 6 at Augusta features an elevated tee box, and patrons often sit on the hillside below the tee as balls whiz over their head down to the green. The hole plays downhill with most players hitting a middle iron off the tee to the large green. The challenge of the hole is the green, which features multiple tiers and plenty of slope. A precise tee shot is key with a large bunker guarding the front left and a downslope on the back side. Players who do find the green off the tee, especially those who land on the correct tier, will have a good opportunity at birdie.
No. 7 Pampas - 450-yard Par-4
The tee shot at No. 7 may be the most intimidating - Photo credit: USA Today Sports
The seventh hole has undergone significant change in recent years and the result is a challenging 450-yard Par-4. With the added length, No. 7 is now one of the hardest holes on the course. It starts off the tee where trees line both sides of the fairway with a tight driving window. Assuming players can find the fairway, it doesn't get much easier. Many players will be faced with an uneven lie on their second shot. The approach to the green is one of the most intimidating shots at Augusta National. Three bunkers guard the front of a small green with two more on the back. Failure to hit the green in regulation will often lead to a bogey or worse. No. 7 proved to be the fourth-hardest hole last year.
No. 8 Yellow Jasmine - 570-yard Par-5
The fairway bunkers on No. 8 cause trouble - Photo credit: Harry How, Getty Images
Despite being the second-longest hole on the course and playing uphill, the eighth hole at Augusta is a birdie hole, especially for the long hitters. A good tee shot is paramount with players needing to avoid the large bunker on the right side of the fairway. Aim too far left and you'll likely find some pine straw, so most will tempt fate and try to find the right center of the fairway, while also avoiding the bunker. Some players will go for the green in two with others laying up for a short wedge shot. There are no greenside bunkers, but mounds surround a challenging green. No. 8 was the second-easiest hole last year.
No. 9 Carolina Cherry - 460-yard Par-4
The sloped green at No. 9 can be treacherous - Photo credit: Harry How, Getty Images
The ninth hole at Augusta is a bit deceiving. It looks fairly wide open and simple, but is far from it. The ideal tee shot will be down the right-center of the fairway, giving players a good angle into the green to avoid the two greenside bunkers on the left. The elevated green is a challenge with a massive slope from back to front. Going long can cause major issues and a poor putt might run well off the green. Overspinning a wedge into the green can result in the ball running some 30 yards off the front of the green.
No. 10 Camelia - 495-yard Par-4
Historically, No. 10 is Augusta's hardest hole- Photo credit: David Cannon, Getty Images
Historically the most difficult hole on the course, the 10th provides a challenging start to the back nine. The long Par-4 plays a bit shorter than the yardage thanks to a steep downhill layout, but that doesn't make it much easier. The dogleg left prevents longer hitters from using driver. Instead, most will try to shape a ball around the bend and avoid running it through the fairway. The shot into the green provides very little margin for error. There is a large bunker to the right, while missing long or left will leave you with a very tricky up-and-down. The green slopes from right to left and can be very difficult to read.
No. 11 White Dogwood - 505-yard Par-4
Finding the 11th green in regulation is a challenge- Photo credit: Harry How, Getty Images
The start of Amen Corner, the 11th hole is the longest Par-4 on the course, and one of the hardest holes overall. The hole demands accuracy and forces players to shape the ball. The dogleg right and overhanging trees mean players need to shape the ball from left to right off the tee. Water surrounds the left and back of the green with a bunker on the back right. Players can miss short right, but that doesn't leave an easy up-and-down. Most will try to shape the ball from right-to-left into the green, and stay far away from the water on Sunday to try and escape with an up-and-down par or lagged two-putt par.
No. 12 Golden Bell - 155-yard Par-3
One of the most iconic tee shots in golf - Photo credit: David Cannon, Getty Images
The second hole at Amen Corner is also the most-famous Par-3 in all of golf. The short 12th hole is historically the third-hardest hole on the course. Wind is often a factor on the hole, making correct club choice one of the biggest keys to success. Rae's Creek guards the front of the hole with one front bunker and two in the back. Many will target the center of the green and be glad to come away with a par.
No. 13 Azalea - 510-yard Par-5
Many will go for the 13th green in two- Photo credit: David Cannon, Getty Images
The final hole of Amen Corner provides a bit of a reprieve from the first two. With a good tee shot, many players will be able to attack the Par-5 in two. But, in order to do that, they'll need to shape a ball off the tee into the severe dogleg left. Do it successfully and many will have a mid to long iron into the green. A tributary of Rae's Creek runs along the left of the fairway and the front of the green with four large bunkers guarding the back of the green. Historically, the hole plays as the second-easiest on the course and was recently the site of Phil Mickelson's amazing second-shot out of the pine straw and onto the green. Such a recovery is very rare when you drive it through the dogleg fairway like that.
No. 14 Chinese Fir - 440-yard Par-4
The 14th is the only bunkerless hole on the course - Photo credit: Harry How, Getty Images
The tee shot on No. 14 is the easiest part of the hole with most players hitting a relatively straight shot, aiming for the right-center of the fairway. From there, it gets much harder. With a multi-tiered green, an accurate approach shot is vital, but also very difficult. With a sloped fairway, players will have an uneven lie on their second shot. The green is tiered and heavily sloped. Missing short makes saving par a major challenge. Any approach within 15 feet of the pin is excellent.
No. 15 Fire Thorn - 530-yard Par-5
Avoid the pond, and players should fare well at No. 15- Photo credit: Mike Ehrmann, Getty Images
Historically the easiest hole on the course, the 15th at Augusta is the best birdie opportunity of the closing stretch. The reachable Par-5 will yield its share of birdies, but isn't a pushover either. A solid drive off the tee is required to have any shot at going for the green. Most will try to find the right side of the fairway off the tee. A good drive will leave a mid iron into the green. Wind can be a serious factor on the hole, impacting strategy and club choice. A pond guards the front of the green with a bunker on the right. Missing long is a safe option, but leaves a challenging up-and-down. The green is one of the easiest on the course. A player who reaches the green in two should come away with no worse than a birdie. The hole was made most famous by Gene Sarazen's double eagle in 1935, the reason the crossway over the pond is called the Sarazen bridge. However, an unlucky bounce off the flagstick, and a little ball drop controversy last year might overtake Sarazen as the most memorable moment at this hole.
No. 16 Redbud - 170-yard Par-3
A look from the tee at No. 16 - Photo credit: Harry How, Getty Images
The 16th features more water than any other hole, but it rarely comes into play. Players tee off over water, with the real challenge finding the right tier of the green, depending on pin placement, and avoiding the three bunkers surrounding the green. The green has a significant right to left slope with a flat upper shelf. The contours of the green can result in some very difficult pin placements. Most pins will require an accurate tee shot to have a legitimate shot at birdie. This is the scene of Tiger's miracle chip shot in 2005, which was most illustrative of the extreme slop at this green and the tricky location of the Sunday pin placement.
No. 17 Nandina - 440-yard Par-4
The 17tth tee will have a new look with no Eisenhower tree - Photo credit: Mike Ehrmann, Getty Images
The biggest change at Augusta this year comes at No. 17, where the famed Eisenhower tree is no more. The course was hit by a harsh winter storm in February and ice damaged the tree to the point where it wasn't recoverable and had to be removed (Augusta recently released a photo with the new view off the tee). Without the tree, the tee shot will be slightly less demanding on the straightforward Par-4. The hole plays uphill with most hitting a mid iron into the green. Pin placement dictates a lot at No. 17. The left side of the green is fairly manageable. The right side, however, is a much harder task. A back right pin placement can easily yield more bogeys than birdies.
No. 18 Holly - 465-yard Par-4
A few notable putts have been made at No. 18 - Photo credit: David Cannon, Getty Images
The finishing hole at Augusta is a dogleg right that will challenge players from tee to green. The narrow driving chute requires an accurate drive. Going too far right brings trees into play and can leave an impossible second shot. A drive down the left side of the fairway gives a much better angle into the green. With the hole playing uphill, most players will hit a mid iron into the green. Two large bunkers guard the front left and right of the two-tiered green. The green slopes from back-to-front and to the right. Finding the correct tier for the pin placement is paramount to having a shot at birdie. An inaccurate approach can easily result in a three-putt. Augusta's finishing hole is regarded as one of the best and most-difficult closing holes in golf, but that didn't stop Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera from making two of the most memorable birdies here in a five-minute span last year.