AUGUSTA, GEORGIA | It didn’t take long Wednesday for Augusta National chairman Billy Payne to be asked if the club intends to lengthen the iconic par-5 13th hole.
There have been reports the club has paid approximately $27 million for a piece of Augusta Country Club’s land behind the 13th tee, leading to speculation the hole will be lengthened in an effort to counteract the distances players are hitting the ball.
What’s going to happen?
“As we do every year and historically forever, we are always looking at options for numerous of our holes,” Payne said Wednesday in his annual news conference. “We create plans looking into the future when we believe that the shot value of certain second shots, principally, has been impacted by how far the ball is now traveling.
“As a consequence, (No.) 13 is one of those holes we are studying. We have made no decision whatsoever. Plans are under way to be considered and, as I have said, that is one of many holes that we now have under consideration.”
Payne called the discussion about the 13th hole – considered by some to be the best par-5 in the world – the “subject du jour” and did not take any option off the table, though he indicated instituting ‘Master rules’ regarding equipment was unlikely.
“We think there are multiple options where we could increase the difficulty of the hole and restore the shot values, only one of which deals with extending the length,” Payne said. “So we are in the middle of all those studies, a lot of arithmetic, lot of design issues, and we would only resort to equipment as the last resort because we believe that the governing bodies in golf deal with that very effectively.”