11 Architects Who Directly Influenced Augusta National

Even the most casual golf fan is aware that Augusta National Golf Club was designed by Alister MacKenzie, in tandem with amateur legend and Grand Slam winner Bobby Jones. However, not even serious Masters students realize that nearly 20 prominent figures in the game have effected changes to the course design over the past 90 years, half of them practicing architects. Some of these alterations were more significant than others, but either way, they were modifications to golf’s inland masterpiece.

Here are the 11 architects who directly influenced Augusta National.

Alister MacKenzie

In a nod to St. Andrews, the course most admired by MacKenzie and his collaborator, Bobby Jones, the Good Doctor fashioned six holes at Augusta National with strategy and green complexes directly attributable to counterparts on the Old Course. MacKenzie favored free-flowing, natural-looking bunkers; the only one that remains is that vast sand sprawl in the 10th fairway.

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A general view of the 10th hole prior to the 2020 Masters at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. (photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Perry Maxwell

A partner with MacKenzie on several high-profile projects, including Crystal Downs in Michigan, Maxwell became Augusta’s change agent after MacKenzie passed away in 1934. Renowned for his vast, undulating putting surfaces, known as “Maxwell Rolls,” Maxwell employed his penchant for bold internal contouring to reconstruct the 1st and 14th greens at Augusta National, in addition to relocating the 7th and 10th greens further up the hill.

Robert Trent Jones Sr.

RTJ Sr. hadn’t hit his prime as an architect when he began his stint as Augusta National’s go-to design man in 1946, but he had already earned the backing of Bobby Jones (no relation) and Gene Sarazen, which certainly helped. Masters domo Clifford Roberts stalled on giving RTJ Sr. the credit he deserved, but make no mistake, in the late 1940s, it was Trent Jones Sr., not Bobby, that created the new tee at the 11th back in the pines, which transformed the hole from an easy dogleg right to a stern dogleg left. It was also Trent Jones Sr. that converted the old, shorter, weaker par-three 16th into the beautiful, pond-graced hole it is today.

George Cobb

By the late 1950s, George Cobb was one of the busiest architects in the southeastern United States. Beginning in 1954, he replaced Robert Trent Jones Sr. as Augusta National’s consulting architect. Though his footprints were wider than Jones’s, they weren’t as heavy. His work is observed on eight holes, most prominently at the par-five 2nd where he extended the putting green further to the left, and at the 7th where he popped in the two bunkers behind the green, giving the hole the look we recognize today.

George Fazio

One of the top architects of the 1960s and ’70s, this former touring pro (Ben Hogan beat Fazio and Lloyd Mangrum in an 18-hole playoff at the 1950 U.S. Open at Merion) also started his nephew Tom in the design business. George Fazio’s contributions at Augusta National were minimal—he did play in the Masters seven times, with a best finish of T-14 in 1952—but he and nephew Tom get credit for stretching the 10th tee 20 yards back and to the left in 1974, which forced players to hit a more pronounced draw with their first shot.

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Augusta National, 13th hole (photo by L.C. Lambrecht)

John LaFoy

A longtime associate of George Cobb dating to the late 1960s, LaFoy has enjoyed a long career of his own, with a design business that blanketed the southeastern U.S. From 1973–78, he was wingman for Cobb at visits to Augusta National. Under Cobb’s auspices, LaFoy tweaked several tees and greens, including rebuilding the putting surface at the 13th hole during the mid-1970s.

Joe Finger

No longer a household name, Joe Finger certainly was that in his design heyday of the 1960s through the 1980s, when he crafted a fistful of Top 100 tracks and renovated dozens of others. In the late 1970s, he teamed with legendary pro Byron Nelson to create several acclaimed courses and together, they adjusted the 8th green at Augusta National. Guided by Nelson’s recollections, Finger restored the green complex to the Punchbowl style it had enjoyed for many years prior.

Bob Cupp

Atlanta-based Bob Cupp enjoyed some terrific individual successes, but he was best known for his collaborations—Liberty National in New Jersey with Tom Kite; Pumpkin Ridge in Oregon with John Fought; and Old Waverly in Mississippi with Jerry Pate. In the early 1980s, he partnered with Jay Morrish in a Jack Nicklaus-owned firm called Golforce. In 1982, Nicklaus identified changes to be made at Augusta’s 3rd hole, including adding mounds and converting one large, left-side fairway bunker into four smaller ones. But because Nicklaus was still a Masters competitor, he felt it would be a conflict of interest if he did the work, so Augusta turned to Cupp to execute the changes. A year later, Cupp remade the green complex at the 13th hole, adding a narrow swale to the left side of the green to create more variety and challenge for those who missed it there.

Jay Morrish

While learning the trade, Jay Morrish worked on significant projects for Robert Trent Jones Sr. (Spyglass Hill in California), George Fazio (Jupiter Hills in Florida), and Desmond Muirhead (Mayacoo Lakes in Florida). From 1973–83, he worked for Jack Nicklaus and for the Nicklaus-owned Golforce, teaming with Bob Cupp. In the mid-1980s, he joined Tom Weiskopf to form one of the top design firms in the ’80s and ’90s. Some sources credit Morrish for assisting with Augusta National tweaks in 1982–83, which would make sense, given his affiliations with Nicklaus and Cupp, but other sources give Cupp solo credit for those changes.

Jack Nicklaus

The recordholder for major championship victories, Jack Nicklaus has racked up a similarly glittering array of course design triumphs since the mid-1970s. His admiration for Augusta National was illustrated when he created an homage for his hometown of Columbus, Ohio—Muirfield Village. With his record five (and eventually six) Masters wins, Nicklaus was an obvious choice to suggest and execute alterations to Augusta National. In the early 1980s, he advocated the bunker change at the 3rd and the redesign of the putting surface and its surrounds at the 13th into order to inject more risk/reward for the long shot coming into the green. However, since he was still competing in the tournament (with supreme success in 1986), he farmed out the actual work to his associate Bob Cupp.

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Augusta National, 7th hole (photo by Getty Images)

Tom Fazio

One could argue that not since Alister MacKenzie has an architect exerted such a significant influence on the design of Augusta National. One could counter by suggesting that Fazio has only executed what the Chairman and others have directed him to do. No matter where you fall, it’s undeniable that Augusta National has experienced widespread design changes on Fazio’s watch, which began in the late 1990s. Most notably, Fazio’s team elongated the par-four 7th hole—not once, but twice—changing it from a drive-and-pitch 365-yarder to a 450-yard brute, further toughened by newly planted encroaching trees. He has also rebuilt the par-four 11th via tree planting, fairway realignment, and a green complex renovation that all served to put the teeth back into a hole that was so feared in Ben Hogan’s day.

What is your favorite design element at Augusta National Golf Club?

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