WATCH: Augusta National lengthens iconic hole 13 with big change coming for golfers at 2023 Masters

One of the loneliest spots on the course at Augusta National is about to get even lonelier as big change looms for the 2023 Masters. Golf’s governing bodies have yet to decide whether to back the ball or change equipment regulations, so Augusta National took matters into their own hands with their course and lengthened the iconic 13th hole.

The move had been rumored for years, of course, and talk only heated up after Augusta National purchased land at the adjacent Augusta Country Club that would allow it to push back its tee box.

The 510-yard hole has come under intense scrutiny over the past decade as several golfers have attempted – with success, in most cases – to turn it into a drive-and-pitch game on the tee. Historically, the 13th has been one of the great risk-reward holes in the sport, giving golfers who were ready to face the stream that runs past the green an eagle eye look but wreaking havoc for those whose shots approach have failed. This dramatic risk-reward option, with the first major of the year on the line, hasn’t really presented itself for many years.

In April, Augusta National President Fred Ridley was asked if one of golf’s most famous holes would ever change.

“There’s no timeline,” Ridley said. “Nothing to announce at this time. This is something that we have certainly considered and will continue to consider. Certainly, and I have said this before, the 13th hole does not have the same challenges as it has historically. I can just remember as a young man watching the Masters, you know, some of the triumphs and tragedies. And while we still have those, the fact that players are hitting mid to short irons in that hole doesn’t isn’t really the way it was designed.

“My reluctance to date has been that it’s such an iconic hole,” Ridley added. Probably with 11 – or 12 rather, and maybe 15. I mean, probably the three holes where the most history has been made at Augusta National. So, you know, it was probably kind of a counterbalance to doing anything. At some point, that’s something we’ll probably do. We just don’t have anything to say about it right now. ”

Things have changed since April, apparently, as satellite photos show the tee box has been moved and trees have been planted in the surrounding areas. This, in most cases, will make it difficult for most competitors at next year’s Masters to get into a position off the tee where hitting the green with a wedge or short iron is simple and straightforward.

The unfortunate thing about all of this is that it could be avoided by regulating the equipment. This may not pose a challenge to Augusta National given its ingenuity and position in the game, but not every club or course can spend millions for an extra 40-60 yards on every hole.

“We won’t know [if equipment changes are coming] for a while because there’s kind of a process that everyone has agreed on how any equipment changes like this are going to happen,” Ridley said in April.

“So we really can’t make predictions on what’s going to happen, but I think if there are any marginal changes to the equipment rules, from what I’ve observed over the last few years with the players and their athleticism, their strength, their size, the efficiency of their golf swings, I don’t think we’re going to see shortened courses.

“So maybe the two kinds of factors could converge, but I don’t think what the governing bodies do will have a direct impact on what we might do at 13 or any other hole on the golf course.”

This is an interesting admission from a connoisseur. He’s basically saying that even if the ball is returned or the driver incapacitated, the effects probably won’t be so great that it won’t be necessary to move the tee back on No. 13 – which the ANGC has now done.

As for the move itself, it will be one of the big stories of the 2023 Masters. Just as No. 15 was lengthened ahead of the 2022 Masters (a decision that led to the Eagles being absent for the first time since 1966), this change to No. 13 will affect the outcome of the golf tournament. While 50 yards or so (it’s hard to tell from the photo above) isn’t a massive change, perhaps the biggest issue for players will be that they aren’t as able to cut the left side corner because some of the overhanging trees are blocking that ball flight.

Some players like Tony Finau, Bubba Watson, Cam Young and Rory McIlroy may still attempt a line out to the left, but the hole will certainly spawn a wider range of strategies than in the past. More and different strategy is what you want when watching and experiencing championship golf. Although the road to this point (lack of equipment regulations) has been frustrating, it is ultimately a good decision and should be a net positive for both the ANGC and the Masters.

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