CHARLES HOWELL says the toughest drive at Augusta National is a 330-yard shot down a dark and narrow tree-lined path. "Magnolia Lane," Howell, a native of Augusta, says of the famed driveway that leads to the clubhouse and to the angst. "It's tougher than any fairway. That's where the nerves start."
It doesn't get any easier when you step to the 1st tee. Once a haven for the long and the crooked, Augusta National has become claustrophobic in the new millennium, testing a player's precision as much as his power. The roster of recent Masters winners represents a cross section of players, from bombers who occasionally find the pine straw (Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Angel Cabrera) to grinders who pepper one fairway after another (Mike Weir, Zach Johnson, Trevor Immelman).
"I don't want to equate it to the U.S. Open, where you have to hit the fairway, but there are certain holes where you feel it," says Johnson, who hit 80% of the fairways en route to his victory in 2007.
With more trees and a layout that was stretched to 7,435 yards in 2006, no Masters tee shot is a gimme anymore. Inside, four tournament veterans identify what they consider the four toughest driving holes at Augusta National.
Augusta National used to be all about the greens. Now the tee shot is king.
The More Distance, The Better
Par-4, 460 yards
By Ben Curtis