Earlier this week
Masters chairman Hootie Johnson addressed the media. Due to an unannounced
schedule change, many reporters arrived late. Here's a partial transcript of an
announcement made by Johnson before most entered.
As many of you
know, we made a number of changes to our golf course, changes we feel were
necessary to maintain the traditional shot values and integrity of our holes.
I'm sure you will agree that at 7,445 yards, Augusta National presents a more
suitable challenge for the world's best golfers, and I look forward to seeing
them rise to it.
There are more
changes on the way. The par-3 contest on the Wednesday of Masters week has been
a wonderful tradition since 1960, but with the distances today's players hit
the ball, our nine-hole par-3 course, whose longest hole is only 140 yards, has
become outdated. Last year, for example, some participants didn't play more
than wedge on any hole.
You've seen the
scores. The winning total hasn't been higher than 23 since 1998, when
technology in the game began to make rapid advancements. Jerry Pate won the
par-3 contest last year, and we feel that if a senior golfer can shoot a 22,
things have gone too far. There have also been 58 holes in one--an exorbitant
number. Plus, the last eight winners have shot a cumulative 37 under par!
(Based on par 72, that's the equivalent of 251 in a full-sized 72-hole event.)
Suffice it to say, we cannot idly stand by and watch our par-3 grounds be made
we are made to do so at the point of a bayonet, we intend to lengthen the par-3
course. Next year the course will measure 2,100 yards instead of the current
1,060 yards so that today's pros will be required to play eight-iron shots on
holes that called for an eight-iron when George Cobb and Clifford Roberts
designed and built the course in 1958.
There is a
precedent for change. The par-3 course was last renovated in 1987, when what
were then the relatively easy 1st and 2nd holes were scrapped and the current
8th and 9th holes were added. These require difficult shots over Ike's
modifications will be performed, of course, by Tom Fazio. Among them will be a
lengthening of the 1st hole (Rose Thorn), now a modest 130 yards, to 246 yards,
by constructing a new tee off the back patio of Butler Cabin. Also, the 8th
hole (Blooming Thistlebud) will be transformed from a mere 120-yarder to a
dazzling, downhill 255-yarder by placing the tee box up the hill and across the
service road behind Eisenhower Cabin. Hitting that green on the edge of the
pond will require the sort of squarely struck shot that would make Bob Jones
The remainder of
the changes are detailed in the release that can be found in the press center.
Thank you, and enjoy the tournament.