Where The Players actually belongs to the players, the Masters and Augusta National belong to a bunch of weird guys who are prone to despotism. Additionally, the Masters has looked a bit long in the tooth in recent years. In a misguided effort to modernize the course, Augusta National unleashed a supremely mediocre architect to modify one of the best and most original golf designs ever.
The changes to the course have been horrendous on a number of levels. The most damaging has been the fact that the changes sucked the drama out of the tournament in the name of “defending par.” Augusta is now so long and difficult, there are few birdie opportunities and the players take over five hours to make their way around the course in twosomes. If the lords of Augusta National were capable of embarrassment (which they almost surely are not), this last fact would shame them no end. The course is now harder (and more boring), but is it a better and fairer test of golf? Does it effectively identify the world’s best golfers? Leader boards the last couple of years populated almost exclusively by no-names and an angry Tiger Woods suggest otherwise.
As a builder of courses, I have had to observe closely through the years the subtle changes that have crept into shotmaking and to an extent, reconcile course design to new balls, and new shots, or rather it would be better to say, the passing of old ones. A.W. TILLINGHAST