Jones, Roberts and MacKenzie No Doubt Would Approve!

Not sure about you, but I'm detecting some trends here. This is the fourth article by someone who has seen the changes at Augusta National, and by golly, the similarities are striking. Potential talking points here? Links to the previous three are here, here and here. You be the judge.

Actually, this unbylined piece takes the analysis in new directions compared to the previous stories, serving up some real headscratchers. Thanks to reader Pete for the heads up.

Augusta National officials, who declined to be quoted, deferring to the “Big Three” or chairman Hootie Johnson, say the changes will restore the course’s “rhythm and shot values” as designed by Jones and Mackenzie.

The fourth hole is longer now (though hardly the longest par-3; Oakmont will have a 285-yard par-3 for the 2007 U.S. Open), but carving the new tee out of the woods created an expanded area for spectators. The real benefit? Making Tour players have to decide which of their four wedges to ditch from their bags in order to carry a 2-iron or 3-iron for the tee shot.

It would be interesting to know the unbylined writer concocted that one or if that came from the club. It's so pathetic on so many levels, I don't know where to begin. Oh let's begin. First, the 2-iron is just about gone from most Tour bags, replaced by the hybrid. Even Tiger shelved his. Second, how many people really carry four wedges, and even if they do, is it really the place a tournament committee to change holes in order to create 14-club decision predicaments?

The most dramatic change is at the 450-yard par-4 seventh, where 90 yards have been added since 2002. An old maintenance building was removed for the new tee, 40 yards back. Fans now can stand behind the tee and see the length of the funnel-like fairway, which “can be classified as narrow,” Roberts wrote in splendid understatement.

Yes, splendid. Wasn't Cliff Roberts the one who turned No. 8 into that hideous flying saucer green that had to be rebuilt by Byron Nelson and Joe Lee? Same guy, right?

Players can bomb a drive into the narrowest part of the fairway and risk being in the right-hand trees, or lay back to 175 yards, where the fairway is flat and wider, and hit a longer approach to an elevated green, guarded by five bunkers. Changes to the green created new pin positions in the back left and back right, bringing those bunkers into play.

Yes, just as Jones and MacKenzie envisioned it.

By reworking the 11th hole, Fazio brought the leftside pond back into play on approaches. Players in the past “bailed out” right, then played approaches into the length of the green. That likely won’t happen now.

And what genius it takes to eliminate options. Here I was thinking it took genius to create options and now I realize my thinking was all wrong.

I don't know about you, but with the Masters on the line, I'd much rather hit over the pond from the leftside with short grass beyond for the over-struck shot, than try to hit into the length of the green from a hanging lie.

The bottom line? Augusta National took steps to stay current, and appears to have succeeded. Players today are better than in 1934, and so is the golf course. Jones, Roberts and Mackenzie no doubt would approve.

Or, no doubt Jones and MacKenzie are spinning in their graves.