The Five Toughest Holes at Augusta National

The 12th at Augusta National Golf Club


Augusta National is well known for being extremely tight-lipped about anything connected to the inner workings of its very private club, and that includes “stroke allocations,” the rankings that show how handicap strokes are distributed across the 18 holes for matches among members and their guests. The little white scorecard members use shows the strokes allocated purely according to length, with the longest hole, the 575-yard 2nd, deemed the number-one stroke hole. (Word has it that the caddies keep the true stroke allocations on a sheet.) Since the club has never allowed the Georgia State Golf Association to officially rate the course either, members’ handicaps are based on the average number of pars they make on the course and not on their USGA Index—a system developed by co-founder Clifford Roberts. In other words, if a member averages seven pars a round, his handicap is 18 minus seven: 11.

However, the club couldn’t be more open when it comes to revealing how tough the individual holes are for Masters participants, keeping reams of statistics that date back to the 1940s. Here are the cumulative statistics for the five toughest holes, including the highest and lowest scores on each, the pros who have played it 25-plus times with the best and worst averages, and how the two greatest Masters champions, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, have fared on each of the holes.

No.1 Stroke Hole: Par-four 10th 495 yards

Year in and year out, this downhill dogleg left is the toughest hole. A good drive left-center will catch the downslope and leave the best angle into a right-to-left sloping green that falls off sharply on the left.

Stroke average: 4.31

Lowest score: 2 by eight players

Highest score: 9 by Danny Lee

Best average: Danny Edwards (right), 3.96

Worst average: Craig Wood, 4.81

Nicklaus: 4.19/3rd hardest hole for him  Woods: 4.14/4th

No. 2 Stroke Hole: Par-four 11th 505 yards

The church doors into Amen Corner can be a bit heavy as this dogleg right is traditionally the
second-hardest hole. The tee shot requires a power fade, followed by a mid-iron approach to a green protected by a pond to the left and a bunker to the back-right.

Stroke average: 4.29

Lowest score: 2 by four players

Highest score: 9 by four players

Best average: Jim Ferrier (below), 3.93

Worst average: Craig Wood, 4.81

Nicklaus: 4.12/T4th  Woods: 4.17/3rd

No. 3 Stroke Hole: Par-three 12th 155 yards

Not very often do you see a par three rank so high, particularly a shortish one, but swirling winds, Rae’s Creek, and a very narrow green lead to a lot of indecision on the tee.

Stroke average: 3.28

Lowest score: 1 by Claude Harmon, Bill Hyndman, and Curtis Strange

Highest score: 13 by Tom Weiskopf

Best average: Mike Weir (above), 2.93

Worst average: Ralph Guldahl, 3.77

Nicklaus: 3.22/2nd  Woods: 3.13/5th

No.4 Stroke Hole: Par-three 4th 240 yards

A long iron or hybrid must carry the deep front bunker to reach the two-tiered green in the far corner of the property. Capricious winds can complicate an already difficult tee shot.

Stroke average: 3.28

Lowest score: 1 by Jeff Sluman

Highest score: 8 by Henrik Stenson

Best average: Lee Westwood (above), 2.93

Worst average: Ralph Guldahl, 3.73

Nicklaus: 3.29/T3rd  Woods: 3.21/2nd

No. 5 Stroke Hole: Par-four 5th 455 yards

Only a drive with a 315-yard carry will clear the two deep fairway bunkers on the left that pinch the landing area on this difficult uphill hole. Putts must negotiate some of the most
severe humps on any of the greens.

Stroke average: 4.26

Lowest score: 2 by seven players

Highest score: 9 by four players

Best average: David Frost (above), 3.98

Worst average: Ralph Guldahl, 4.73

Nicklaus: 4.27/5th  Woods: 4.11/T7th