Design Notes

Status quo on the redesign of Augusta National’s iconic 13th hole

Tom Jackson renovates Myrtle Beach’s River Hills; Brian Ross and Colton Craig debut Kentucky’s Park Mammoth; Tim Lobb restores the heathland to England’s Isle of Purbeck

The Masters — 13th hole
The par-5 13th hole played 510 yards for the 2022 Masters, and the last significant change to the hole was in 2002 when the tees were moved back 20 to 25 yards.

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> On Wednesday of Masters Week, Augusta National Golf Club chairman Fred Ridley quelled the latest rumors that design changes to the club’s iconic par-5 13th hole were imminent.

“There is no timetable and nothing to announce at this time,” said Ridley. “It’s something we have considered and continue to consider.” At the same time, he commented later in his press conference that altering the 13th is “something we likely will do.”

Virtually all chatter for the past half-dozen years has revolved around lengthening the 510-yard hole to stiffen the challenge. Six-time Masters winner Jack Nicklaus said in 2018, “In my prime, the 13th was not only one of my favorite holes, but was also one of the best in golf. It presented its risks and rewards perfectly. But the golf ball had changed things. If you’re not going to roll back the golf ball, you really need to lengthen the hole by 30 to 40 yards to test the players of today.”

Augusta National has now acquired the land necessary to permit new back tees to be constructed beyond the existing tees, but hasn’t acted on it yet. Ridley is cautious about pursuing the move.

“Admittedly, and I’ve said this before, the 13th hole doesn’t have the same challenges that it has historically,” said Ridley. “I can just remember as a young guy watching the Masters, some of the triumphs and tragedies and while we still have those, the fact that the players are hitting middle to short irons into that hole is not really how it was designed. Having said that, my reluctance is that it is such an iconic hole. Probably along with 12 and maybe 15, probably the three holes where most history has been made at Augusta National.”

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> River Hills Golf and Country Club, one of the quiet stars of the Little River region, just north of Myrtle Beach proper, will close June 20 for a complete greens and bunker renovation project. Founders Group international, the owner-operator of River Hills, worked with the original architect Tom Jackson to develop the renovation plan for the 34-year-old course. Greens will be resurfaced with TifEagle bermudagrass and will be restored to their original dimensions, expanding the size of the current putting surfaces by 40 percent. Every bunker will be renovated as well, elevating sightlines and playability and will feature new Capillary Concrete bunker liners, which will eliminate washouts and improve drainage. Expected reopening date is August 21.

> Ross Golf Design—Brian Ross, not Donald—and co-designer Colton Craig are preparing for the April 28 debut of Park Mammoth Golf Club in Park City, Kentucky. The Austin, Texas-based Ross, a former associate of Richard Mandell and Oklahoma’s Craig, founder of the Perry Maxwell Society, have effected a complete redesign of an existing 18-hole layout called Cave Valley Golf Club in the south-central section of the state, not far from Mammoth Cave National Park.  The scope of the work included re-routing several holes, building 20 new putting greens, 50 new tee boxes and 25 new sand bunkers. The architects also oversaw the installation of a new irrigation system for the public layout.

> Dorset’s Isle of Purbeck Golf Club in southwest England will be renovated by Tim Lobb + Partners, with the aim of restoring the site’s heathland character. Lobb, who is president of the European Institute of Golf Course Architects, has presented a plan that will also widen playing corridors to open up angles on many holes, thus reducing the volume of lost balls, said Lobb. H.S. Colt designed the present layout in 1925 from an 1893 original; the course enjoys handsome vistas of Southampton Harbor.  It’s Lobb’s intent to bring back the past, while also addressing modern sensibilities. “Forward tees are another focus, with the aim of broadening golfing appeal and ensuring we retain and enhance the heath carries as much as possible,” said Lobb. “A limited number of back tees are to be added. Our plans also include increasing the number of pin positions on greens to offer more variety, while the number of closely mown approaches will be increased to add more challenge.” Course consultant David Langheim and course manager David Field are working with Lobb.