Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie designed Augusta National in the early 1930s, inspired by the Old Course at St. Andrews, which is exceptionally open and encourages a lot of creativity. Like Augusta, it’s no accident that the Old Course has always been a bombers' paradise. But with the changes, Augusta now dictates more forcefully what shots the pros must to play. Because of recently added trees and rough, you can’t drive the ball to some places that would give the best angle of attack. I don’t particularly like those strategic qualities being taken away, and because they couldn’t get the proper angle to attack certain hole locations, a lot of players in the 2006 Masters had to bail out and leave themselves long approach putts—or even intentionally aim for bunkers or chipping areas instead of trying to get the ball close. Consequently, the pros in this year’s tournament saw putts no one has had to make in years. And on Augusta’s greens, if you are on the wrong part of the green, you might as well be in a hazard, because the penalty will be at least one extra stoke with the putter.
Will there be more changes to Augusta National? If the tournament committee feels that they need to adjust the course to keep up with technology and maintain the shot values they feel Jones and MacKenzie had in mind, we may not have seen the last of the tweaks to some of the most hallowed ground in golf.
Tournament golf can be heroic or tragic, a play of forces in which players and spectators alike may experience drama equal to that on any stage. BOBBY JONES