Augusta National Golf Club's New 5th hole

Extended from 455 yards to 495, ‘Magnolia’ is now the second-longest par 4 on the course – joint with the 10th but 10 yards behind the 505-yard 11th.

Extended from 455 yards to 495, ‘Magnolia’ is now the second-longest par 4 on the course – joint with the 10th but 10 yards behind the 505-yard 11th.

For the 2019 installment of the Masters, the only significant structural change to the course at Augusta National Golf Cub sees not the lengthening of the iconic par-5 13th, as has long been expected, but the addition of an extra 50 yards to the par-4 5th hole. Extended from 455 yards to 495, ‘Magnolia’ is now the second-longest par 4 on the course – joint with the 10th but 10 yards behind the 505-yard 11th.

The change has been several years in the planning and gathered pace when Augusta National purchased Old Berckmans Road, which ran behind the old 5th tee, and closed it to traffic in 2015. Acquiring the land opened up the option of lengthening the hole and making more space around both the neighbouring par-3 4th hole and around the 5th tee.

What we have now is, as described by Augusta National, ‘an uphill, dog-leg left hole with a sloping green. The fairway bunkers are positioned to demand accuracy off the tee. It is a 313-yard carry over the bunkers. The green slopes down to the front and a back bunker catches balls hit too long.

Despite not being overly long by modern standards, the 455-yard version of Magnolia had played as Augusta’s fifth-most difficult hole in tournament history. In last year’s Masters, the scoring average of 4.16 made it the sixth toughest hole on the course. 

But recent evidence confirmed that change was required, with the  approach shot to the 5th green little more than a short iron for the game’s top players. In 2016, Danny Willett hit 8-iron from 157 yards out from a fairway bunker. The year before, Jordan Spieth took 3-wood off the tee and had a 7-iron left for his shot to the green.

Those 50 additional yards should put driver back in the hands of most players and bring a little more doubt to the tee shot.

The Evolution of Magnolia: How the 5th has changed down the years.

1934: 440 yards
What had been the 14th hole until the 1934 Masters, Magnolia became the 5th thereafter. Diagrams from that date suggest an elaborate bunker positioned 200 yards or so from the tee, a trap that would have troubled few players then and none now.

How the 5th hole at Augusta National looked in 1934. Note the jigsaw shaped bunker.

How the 5th hole at Augusta National looked in 1934. Note the jigsaw shaped bunker.

1957: 450 yards
In 1953 the tees were extended 10 yards. Three years later a mound was built at the left of the green. Then, ahead of the 1957 Masters, the large, sprawling bunker was replaced by three smaller sand traps some 230 yards off the tee, with a small bunker added at the back of the green to swallow long approach shots.

Prior to the 1957 Masters, the old jigsaw-shaped bunker was replaced by three more uniform looking sand traps.

Prior to the 1957 Masters, the old jigsaw-shaped bunker was replaced by three more uniform looking sand traps.

1968: 450 yards
By the early 1960s, Augusta National design consultant George Cobb had removed one of the three small fairway bunkers. But remaining at 230 yards off the tee, the pair remained largely redundant. Fairway mounds were added to the front right of the green in 1964, a mound at the left of the green enlarged in 1967.

How the 5th hole at Augusta National looked in 1968: The fairway bunkers has been reduced to two and more mounding has been added to the front right of the green.

How the 5th hole at Augusta National looked in 1968: The fairway bunkers has been reduced to two and more mounding has been added to the front right of the green.

2008: 455 yards
The most recent significant change saw the tees moved back again in 2003, the fairway bunkers extended 80 yards towards the green. The fairway and bunkers were shifted to the right to increase the dog-leg, the hole becoming 455 yards in the process.

Prior to the 2008 Masters, the fairway bunkers were moved much closer to the green and the dogleg was made more severe.

Prior to the 2008 Masters, the fairway bunkers were moved much closer to the green and the dogleg was made more severe.

Nick Wright