One of the more curious aspects of Augusta National is that most of its terrors are nameless. The Old Course at St. Andrews has its Hell Bunker and Valley of Sin. Oakmont has its Church Pew Bunkers. Pine Valley boasts of a sandy waste called Hell's Half Acre. But with the exception of the all-encompassing Amen Corner, the most discouraging locales at Augusta carry either benign names, like Rae's Creek, or no names at all. When José María Olazábal hit his second shot behind the 17th green in 1994's final round, television commentator Gary McCord couldn't say that Olazábal was in the Peach Pit or Satan's Sandwich. He had to make up a line about "body bags." As you no doubt know, McCord hasn't worked the Masters since.
This lack of nomenclature should lead no one to believe that Augusta National is a hazardless venue. Eight pieces of its real estate come up so often in players' war stories that you wonder why no one has gotten beyond descriptions like "that swale, you know, at the foot of the green." Several of these no-go zones played a role in Nick Faldo's victory on Sunday as any player could have predicted last Thursday. In no particular order, then, here are the places you simply must not hit your ball at Augusta.
The back-right bunker on number 16. "There are lots of bad places to be on this golf course," Corey Pavin says, but the first one that pops into his mind is "the back-right bunker on 16." The only level hole at Augusta, the 16th is a 170-yard par-3 over a pond. The green, however, tilts right to left toward the water and is lightning fast, so a shot into that bunker is suicide.
"It's desperately difficult," says former CBS golf analyst Ben Wright, who covered the 16th for more than 20 years. "Billy Casper once flashed it into the water from that bunker. He had to drop another ball in the sand, and he then left his next shot in the bunker. I think he made 7."
This year, Mark Brooks hit his tee shot on Thursday a few inches into the sinister sand, nearly holed his delicate explosion and then trudged across the green to rendezvous with his ball—25 feet below the hole. Jack Nicklaus, on Friday, saw his bunker shot glide past the flagstick, turn left and migrate 40 feet to the far fringe. "It's death over there," said first-time Masters entrant Tim Herron after a first-round double bogey. "I knew that. On the tee, I said, 'Don't go right.' And then I hit it right."
The water on number 12. The 12th is the back side's other par-3, and it, too, is over water—in this instance Rae's Creek. When asked to name the single worst place to hit a ball at Augusta National, Tom Fazio, a course architect, knit his brow in concentration before reaching a judgment. "I think I'd automatically say a water hazard, and a hole like number 12 would be the most frightening. If you go in, you know the best you're going to make is bogey."
The tee shot on 12 is bad enough, with the green looking as shallow as a windowsill and a grassy bank in front consigning most short shots to the creek. But the real shakes come when a player has to hit a soft wedge from the drop area down by the water. In 1980 thousands in Amen Corner watched in horror as Tom Weiskopf hit five balls into Rae's Creek and made 13, tying the Masters record for highest score on a hole.
"I didn't know this until after the fact," Weiskopf recalls, "but my wife, Jeanne, was back near the tee in tears. Just to pick her up a little, one of my best friends, Tom Culver, hugged her and said, 'Jeanne, you don't think Tom is using new balls, do you?' "
Over the years the water at 12 has quashed the final-round aspirations of Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Dan Foreman and, last week, Greg Norman. Norman's bogey on Saturday and his double on Sunday contributed heavily to his titanic demise.
Short of the green on number 7. A light driving hole, this little par-4 offers problems for the player who winds up short of the green in 2. From below the front bunkers, the golfer faces an uphill pitch, practically blind, over a dazzling wall of sand to a shallow green. The player's best hope is to pitch over the putting surface and hope backspin will walk the ball back out of the fringe. If his ball hangs up in the froghair, the fourth shot is a nasty chip that can either catch in the collar or run a furlong pass the hole. In the second round last year, John Huston charged into a tie for the lead with a 66. But he almost came a cropper at number 7, where he made his only bogey of the day—and that was with a brilliant up and down from the back fringe.