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Saving Augusta
Pete Dye
April 06, 1998
People ask me how I'd stop the low scores at Augusta National—to save the course's honor, so to speak. Here's what I say.
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April 06, 1998

Saving Augusta

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People ask me how I'd stop the low scores at Augusta National—to save the course's honor, so to speak. Here's what I say.

It's not the course, it's the equipment. Today's clubs and self-correcting balls don't help you and me much—we're 50 yards into the woods instead of 40—but they sure help the golf professional. He can hit an eight-iron on the same hole on which Ben Hogan and Sam Snead hit great two-and three-iron shots. I believe it's the long irons that separate great players from the next level down, but they are being eliminated. We may soon see if Tiger Woods is the best eight-iron player, but is that what people want? No, they want to see players challenged. That's why I'll put the white tees at 370 yards on my new courses, but leave room to shove the pros back to 480.

Another reason scores are low at Augusta: There's no element of surprise. At an old course like Turnberry, one bunker might be fluffy, the next a little hard. You can hit a perfect drive and land in some god-awful divot. Jack Nicklaus can overcome that, but another guy might not, and that's one way to tell great players from the rest. But surprise is lost at Augusta. Everything's perfect! These pros with their new equipment can hit short irons from perfect fairways to bentgrass greens that are softer than the Bermuda the course used to have. The pin placements can't get harder than they already are, so the course is almost defenseless.

What would I do about it? Nothing. Because however low the scores get, Augusta is still flawless. Perfection is the idea behind everything there, and if that leads to low scores, so be it. Even if I were asked, I could never tamper with Augusta National.

So I suppose all we can do is pray for some weather next week, and it might take a whole lot of prayer. The wind doesn't blow much way back in those Georgia dogwoods.

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