Playing Augusta National-Architect’s Perspective

Augusta National is a course whose strategic approach the avid golf watcher would say he understands just based on the sheer number of times he has seen The Masters broadcasts over the years.  Yet every year there is one shot a leader or a chaser hits on Saturday or Sunday that leaves the TV patron scratching their head wondering why did they try to do that.

The answer to that question and many, many more can be found in this in depth Fried Egg Podcast interview with major champion and golf course architect Geoff Ogilvy.  Andy Johnson plies Ogilvy’s knowledge of every hole at Augusta-one to eighteen-from both a playing and competitive standpoint to give you a much richer understanding of the challenge the top professionals in the world face as they wend their way through the tournament set up at The Masters.

Because of his accomplished playing career and his subsequent devotion to golf course architecture and design, Ogilvy is uniquely qualified to provide this guided tour.  He had 16 professional wins over his career-8 on the PGA Tour that include a U.S. Open and 3 World Golf Championships.  His record in the four Majors during the height of his career speaks to his deep understanding of championship golf courses and the challenges they present in major championships.

The fact that Augusta National is an Alister MacKenzie design and Ogilvy grew up and is cutting his course architecture teeth in the Sand Belt Region of Australia where MacKenzie also plied his craft adds to the depth of understanding he has of the strategic approach of this unique venue.

Ogilvy points out that Augusta National is routed in such a way that the holes traverse the severe topography of the land which is why their is so much movement on the fairways and the greens.  This also lends itself to severe side hill stances on approach shots that often are counter to the shot shape required to get at specific pins.  A good example is the hook stance from the fairway on the Par 5 13th into a green that favors a fade to most pins to counter the risk of traversing the diagonal relation of Rae’s Creek to the putting surface.

On almost every hole there are repel pin positions and collection pin positions, so the tournament powers that be can change the difficulty factor dramatically from day-to-day simply by the location of the hole.  As Ogilvy points out this also changes the preferred driving position and angle of approach in each round. 

The wide variance of potential score on a hole in a given day based the hole positions is what makes the course endlessly interesting for the player and the viewing patron alike.  Depending on the player’s position on the scoreboard on Sunday afternoon there are holes that they must make decision after decision to either take on the challenge or protect their score. In the vernacular of risk and reward Ogilvy’s experience at Augusta is that takes a care-free aggressive approach to be successful at Augusta National.

Fair warning, this interview is almost two hours in it’s entirety but it is chock full of stuff you have not heard before so it is well worth it if you have the time.  Even if you just listen to a chunk of it, your understanding of what you see the next time you are watching The Masters will be greatly enhanced.

(Click to listen to Geoff Ogilvy’s Interview on the Fried Egg)

Geoff Ogilvy-Episode 196 (2020)

The Fried Egg Podcast

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