Focus on the 15th hole of the Augusta National Golf Club for the Masters:

Name: Firethorn
By: 5
Mileage 2022: 550
1934 footage: 485
Average rating 2021: 4.77
All-time average: 4.77
All-time difficulty ranking: 17
Lowest year: 4.50 (1991)
Highest year: 5.09 (1998)

The hole plays straight ahead and is relatively wide open until the fairway pinches lower and begins a gradual slope to a pond which faces the green. Where the rough juts out to the left, there’s a small group of trees that don’t affect readers as much as they do on the second hit. A well-placed drive will raise the question: go green or lie down? In addition to the pond which is the width of the green, the equation takes into account an uphill slope to the green, which slopes from the back towards the pond. Due to the speed of the green, balls rolling back to the front of the green tend to continue rolling down the slight slope and into the pond. There is also a bunker to contend with just to the right of the front corner of the green.

1955: Dedicated Gene Sarazen Bridge.
1957: Bunker added to the right front of the green.
1961: Pond in front of enlarged green.
1963: Mound to back of green removed and mound to right extended.
1964: Bunker to the right of the enlarged green.
1969: Separate tees, moving the Masters tees back and to the right. Added mounds in the fairway on the right side.
1999: Reduced fairway mounds and added pines right and left.
2006: Master tees moved back 25-30 yards and moved about 20 yards to the golfer’s left.
2009: Eight to 9 yards added to the front of the Masters tees. No change in footage.
2022: The tees from the masters have been moved back 20 yards and the fairway has been redesigned.
Remarks: A 1933 New York Times article said of the 15th hole: “The hole has some characteristics of the first hole at St. Andrews.

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In 1968, Bob Goalby hit an 8-foot 3-iron in the final round and eagled. The 3 drew Goalby even with Roberto De Vicenzo, who then signed for an incorrect scorecard that showed a score one shot higher than he actually made on the 17. That single shot prevented De Vicenzo to enter a playoff with Goalby, who slipped into that year’s green jacket. … There were reportedly only 22 spectators on the edge of the green, including Bobby Jones, when Gene Sarazen made his miraculous double eagle shot in 1935. The famous sportswriter Grantland Rice embellished the total to 2,000 who had seen the blow. Also that year, Craig Wood held such a lead at the clubhouse on Sunday that the media persuaded Wood and his wife to pose for a photo with the winner’s check. … There is also a dark side to the par-5 15th, as evidenced by the high hole score of 13, by Sergio Garcia in 2018. … The hole was played eight times in 6 under the week. …. Perhaps a much larger crowd remembers what would have been the holeshot’s most memorable moment had it not been for Sarazen’s feat 51 years earlier. In 1986, 46-year-old Jack Nicklaus, already winner of five Masters, was on the hunt on Sunday for a sixth green jacket. The day started with 14 players tied with or ahead of Nicklaus, who methodically challenged himself – and loved the frantic galleries – as the day went on. As Nicklaus scored the start of the 15th, Seve Ballesteros, who had completed the 13th hole moments earlier, led Nicklaus by four shots. Nicklaus’ second 4-iron shot nearly flew into the cut, but skidded 12 feet, and the gold bear converted that putt into an eagle. Nicklaus created more roars with a birdie on the par-3 16th, so by the time Ballesteros prepared for his approach to the 15th green, the Spaniard’s lead over Nicklaus had been reduced to one stroke. Ballesteros, looking for his third Masters title, found the pond and bogeyed. Nicklaus posted a final 65 and finished at 9 under. In the end, Ballesteros put three putts to the 17th green to end his hopes; Tom Kite missed a 12-foot birdie putt on the 18th green that would have tied Nicklaus at 9 under; and Greg Norman, who birdied back-to-back numbers 14-17 to tie Nicklaus at 9 under, pushed his approach on the final hole and bogeyed.

1935: Gene Sarazen’s double eagle has been dubbed “the shot heard ‘around the world’ and the one that helped establish the Masters.” When Sarazen and fellow competitor Walter Hagen came off the tee in the penultimate pairing of the final round, Sarazen sat at 3 under par, three strokes behind club leader Craig Wood. After a practice that found a divot, Sarazen used a newly designed 4-wood, known as the Wilson Turf Rider and believed to have been created by Sarazen, for his 230-yard approach. The 5-foot-5 Sarazen returned the ball to his position and let it rip. Bobby Jones later wrote, “His swing on the ball was so perfect and free, you knew immediately it was a magnificent shot.” The ball hits in front of the green, changes direction slightly to the left and rolls into the cup. Sarazen would win a 36-hole playoff against Wood the following day to win his seventh major and complete the career Grand Slam.

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