I wrote a column in this month's Golfdom (not posted yet) spoofing Augusta, circa 2012. It's my usual sarcastic nonsense about how the course will be expanding into the surrounding neighborhoods to accomodate the ball while taking on corporate sponsors to fund the changes. (Think Titleist Skybox in The Big Oak and you some idea what a serious piece of writing this is.)
Since hitting the send button, I've wondered if I went over the top. Then I get to read this column from Scott Michaux:
Those are words that strike fear in the hearts of purists. Consider the potential "improvements" that have been bandied about by players this week:
- Stretching the devilishly short par-4 third hole from 350 yards closer to 400.
- A 230-yard par-3 sixth.
- A bunkerless 14th hole backed up 20 or so yards more.
- A rebuilt fifth hole, after the uncompromising impediment of Berckmans Road is eliminated.
- A par-3 12th tee box that, heaven forbid, extends a little closer to the bleachers.
Why wait to imagine the screaming from players when we can start kvetching now?
"Once they buy up all the roads and the houses, they'll get it to 9,000 yards," said three-time winner Nick Faldo. "We'll start down I-20."
When it comes to touching up the Sistine Chapel of major venues, this isn't a joke. And neither are these ideas. Some folks believe most, if not all, of these concepts will actually happen someday soon.
Oh yes, he's serious. Check out this stat:
When you see a course where the growth rate jumped from 3.6 yards annually through the first 64 years to 65 yards per year in the past eight, you can understand the concern.
Then Michaux looks at the par-4 3rd, which has not been touched since Nicklaus added those silly looking egg bunkers in down the left side.
At only 350 yards, No. 3 is one of the greatest short par-4s in the world, and the lure of trying to power it close to the green is rarely rewarding.
But with players often laying up short of the fairway bunker complex with easy irons, the thought of putting at least a 3-wood in their hands might be attractive to club officials.
Not so to players.
"I don't think making No. 3 longer would make it any better," Lyle said.
"It would be a shame," Faldo said. "That one stands up."
So did No. 7, but that didn't stop it from receiving nearly a football field of length.
And then Michaux drops this bombshell:
Although the 12th hole might be iconic enough to be spared, No. 6 is vulnerable to the whims of stewards with a limitless budget.
The removal of maintenance structures near the new seventh tee has freed up space for bold possibilities of reconstructing the sixth hole. Players say it has been studied and sighted - to completely reconstruct the sixth green left of its current site and moving and realigning the tee box back and right of where it sits today.
Faldo understands that one day it will cease being an issue - at least for him.
"I'll be smiling and laughing in another 10 years' time, when all these pine trees have grown up," he said. "It will be a scream sitting up here drinking pina coladas and watching them thread it through the Augusta needle."