Masters Countdown: Second Hole

Augusta National's second green in 1935, when it had just one bunker.

During Augusta National’s early years, in the 1930s, the second hole had a vast, ragged bunker in the fairway, not far from the tee. A more subdued version of that bunker survived into the mid-sixties, when Clifford Roberts, the club’s chairman and co-founder, replaced it with a smaller bunker farther down the fairway and to the right. “The players all complained when Roberts put it in,” Gene Sarazen, who suggested the change, told me in the late 1990s. “But it didn’t mean a thing when you complained to Roberts. He had his own mind made up.” Among the players who complained was Ben Hogan, whose fade made the sand a genuine annoyance. Sam Snead told me, “Hogan said the bunker should have been placed on the other side, so you couldn’t cut the corner.” But the left side of the fairway was already well guarded, as it is today, by a grove of pines and a deep ravine with a creek at the bottom of it—one of the few spots on the course where a player can hit a truly unrecoverable drive. Gardner Dickinson once suggested that the tournament’s airline office—a Roberts innovation, which enables players and tournament spectators to make last-minute changes in their travel plans without leaving the property—should be moved into the ravine, on the theory that any player unfortunate enough to hit his tee shot down there might as well book a flight and go home. In recent years, the carry from the tournament tee to the fairway bunker has been stretched to more than 300 yards, but some players are able to hit their drives right past it. And hardly anybody employs Hogan’s second-hole strategy: intentionally hitting his second shot into a greenside bunker and trying to get up and down for birdie from there.

The second green in 1948: two greenside bunkers with a broad gap between them.

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