The members at Augusta National said that they made improvements
to their course, but now that I've played in the Masters, I
don't think the changes were significant.
Lengthening the 2nd hole was insignificant because almost
everybody can still reach the green in two. I really liked the
new, softer surface on the 11th green, but I did not agree with
the decision to shave the slope behind the green and to remove
the bunker. Having to avoid the pond to the left is hard enough,
but now you've also got to worry about hitting into Rae's Creek
if you go over the green. That penalty is too severe.
Because of the shaved bank and hard green, the par-5 15th was a
borderline ridiculous hole before they removed the fairway
mounds and added trees to the right. Now it's a borderline
ridiculous hole with so many trees you can't chip out. I made
bogey at 15 on Thursday, but not because of the changes. My
approach rolled back into the water--as has happened several
The changes at 17 were the worst. I was three over there this
year (three bogeys and a par) largely because I couldn't hold
the rock-hard green. Plus, I can't imagine how Tom Fazio, the
architect, could honestly tell the Augusta members that moving
the tee box back and adding trees on the right were
improvements. Come on.
The one change I like is the addition of rough, which makes the
course a little easier. The rough stopped several of my tee
shots from going into the trees. In the future I suggest that
Augusta add rough in front of the 15th green so guys don't make
9s. I'd also like to see the 18th tee moved back or the fairway
bunkers moved toward the green.
Augusta National is emulated around the world, so Masters
officials must be careful when they tweak their course. If they
want to see ridiculous changes everywhere, great. I don't.
Mark Brooks finished 38th in the Masters.
COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK