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Masters Course Preview: Is the Augusta Course Key to Winning the Masters?

Tom Jacobs is here to break down Augusta National, so we can get an idea of what to expect ahead of the Masters.
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Masters Course Preview: Previous Look at the Augusta Course Is Key

How important are course form and major experience when it comes to winning the Masters? Find out the answer to these two questions, and more below.

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The Masters Course

Augusta National

Length: 7,510 Yards

Par: 72

Greens: Bentgrass Greens

Designer: Alistair Mackenzie & Bobby Jones (Opened for play 1992, hosted the Masters from 1934 onwards)

Course Record: 63 (Nick Price, 1986 & Greg Norman, 1996)

The course has been lengthened by 35 yards on the scorecard this year, with the Par-4 11th, which was already a long and tough hole, lengthened by 15 yards, while the Par-5 15th has also had 20 yards added.

The 11th hole, also known as "White Dogwood" has a new tee-box to the left of its original site, and the fairway has been re-contoured and widened, with the first cut now removed, and more fairway added to the right, as they’ve cleared almost all the trees that side. The hole now plays a huge 520 yards, making it longer than the Par 5 13th the pros play two holes later. Rory McIlroy talks about the 11th on a recent scouting mission said "It's obviously a longer hole, the fairway's much wider, so even if you miss it right, you still have a chance to hit the green. The green complexes are the same, but the surrounds of the green are much more penal, so that sort of bail-out to the right is much more difficult than it used to be. Overall I think it's going to play tougher than in previous years, and it was already one of the toughest holes on the course."

At the 15th "Firethorn", this hole, like the 11th has been lengthened (20 yards) and also had its fairways re-contoured. The 9th and 10th holes have also had their first cut removed to add more short grass.

There are also new greens at holes 3, 13, and 17.

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Hole averages for 2021 - *Bold Denotes hole playing under par

#1 - 445 Yards, Par 4 - Average: 4.2150

#2 - 575 Yards, Par 5 - Average: 4.5510 - Easiest hole in 2021. 7 eagles, 132 birdies, 0 Double Bogeys+

#3 - 350 Yards, Par 4 - Average: 3.8970

#4 - 240 Yards, Par 3 - Average: 3.3030

#5 - 495 Yards, Par 4 - Average: 4.4310 - Hardest hole in 2021. 7 Birdies, 99 bogeys, 14 Double Bogeys+

#6 - 180 Yards, Par 3 - Average: 3.1660

#7 - 450 Yards, Par 4 - Average: 4.2960

#8 - 570 Yards, Par 5 - Average: 4.6250

#9 - 460 Yards, Par 4 - Average: 4.1130

#10 - 495 Yards, Par 4 - Average: 4.2190

#11 - 505 Yards, Par 4 - Average: 4.3390

#12 - 155 Yards, Par 3 - Average: 3.1130

#13 - 510 Yards, Par 5 - Average: 4.6210

#14 - 440 Yards, Par 4 - Average: 4.0140

#15 - 530 Yards, Par 5 - Average: 4.7660

#16 - 170 Yards, Par 3 - Average: 2.9960

#17 - 440 Yards, Par 4 - Average: 4.1900

#18 - 465 Yards, Par 4 - Average: 4.1410

Summary of 2021 Masters from a scoring perspective:

One Par 3 played under par (16th hole)

One Par 4 played under par (3rd hole)

All Par 5's played under par

The overall stroke average was 73.0630

The front nine-stroke average was 36.6000, and the back nine-stroke average was 36.4620.

In total, there were 449 birdies made on the front nine and 495 birdies made on the back nine.

In total, there were 15 eagles made on the front nine and 15 eagles made on the back nine.

In total, there were 523 bogeys made on the front nine and 499 bogeys made on the back nine.

In total, there were 58 double bogeys+ made on the front nine and 70 double bogeys+ made on the back nine.

In total, there were 1502 pars made on the front nine and 1468 pars made on the back nine.

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A notable course designed by Alistair Mackenzie is Royal Melbourne, which has been used in the Presidents Cup in 1998, 2011, and the most recent renewal, 2019. It has also hosted plenty of Australian Tour events, most recently the 2013 Australian Masters. Adam Scott, a former Masters winner, won the 2013 Australian Masters ahead of Matt Kuchar, who himself has four top-8 finishes at Augusta.

Correlating Courses & Events

Genesis Invitational (Riviera Country Club)

It is rather difficult to compare any event to this unique test and layout, but one event that has provided a lot of crossover with this is the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club.

In 59 renewals of the Los Angeles Open (and all its title sponsors) held at Riviera Country Club, 34 of them have been won by present or future major winners. Of those wins, 22 of them have come courtesy of 12 different Masters winners. Dustin Johnson who won this event in 2020, is the most recent example of someone who has won both. Bubba Watson is the most recent example of someone who has won both events multiple times. Other multiple champions at Riviera include Ben Hogan, Fred Couples, Mike Weir, Phil Mickelson, Sam Snead, and Tom Watson, all of whom have won at least one Green Jacket.

Top-10 in Course Form Over The Past 10 Years (min. 3 starts)

These are the top-10 players in this year's field, in adjusted scoring average at the Masters over the past 10 years, based on a three-start minimum:

Jordan Spieth - 2-1-2-11-3-21-46-3

Jon Rahm - 27-4-9-7-5

Dustin Johnson - 13-MC-6-4-10-2-1-MC

Tony Finau - 10-5-38-10

Tiger Woods - 40-4-17-32-1-38

Justin Rose - 8-25-14-2-10-2-12-MC-23-7

Xander Schauffele - 50-2-17-3

Justin Thomas - 39-22-17-12-4-21

Hideki Matsuyama - 54-MC-5-7-11-19-32-13-1

Brooks Koepka - 33-21-11-2-7-MC

Masters Key Stats & Requirements

Driving Distance - Zach Johnson winning in 2009 continues to give people hope, as you are sure to hear that he laid upon every par 5 and won that week, but that was a true anomaly weather-wise and overall. Given the additional length added at holes 11 and 15, this distance might be more pivotal than ever this year, and I think it is essential to pick someone that can pack a punch off the tee.

Greens in Regulation (SG Approach) - The Masters does not provide Strokes-Gained data, nor can you get stats in general that easily for the event, so it is best to check some of the more traditional stats out to get an idea of what is required. As a result, Greens in Regulation is a standout statistic, and Hideki Matsuyama ranked 6th in that area last year. That makes him the 10th winner of the last 13 to rank 6th or better in Greens in Regulation the week they won.

Course Experience/Form - If he still held a PGA Tour card, Fuzzy Zoeller could probably win this year's PiP based on the number of times you will hear or read that "no debutant has won the Masters, since Fuzzy Zoeller in 1979". While boring to hear, it is still extremely relevant when trying to whittle down the list of potential winners here. Of the last 10 winners here, 8 were winning their first Masters (Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson the exceptions) and they had all had a previous start at the golf course before winning. Here are the last ten winners of the event, and how many Masters they played before winning.

2021 - Hideki Matsuyama (9 previous starts at the Masters)

2020 - Dustin Johnson (9 previous starts at the Masters)

2019 - Tiger Woods (21 previous starts at the Masters before 2019 win. Won his first Green Jacket on his third start, so had 2 previous starts at Augusta before winning)

2018 - Patrick Reed (4 previous starts at the Masters)

2017 - Sergio Garcia (18 previous starts at the Masters)

2016 - Danny Willett (1 previous start at the Masters)

2015 - Jordan Spieth (1 previous start at the Masters)

2014 - Bubba Watson (5 previous starts at the Masters before 2014 win. Won his first Green Jacket on his fourth start, so had 3 previous starts at the Masters before winning)

2013 - Adam Scott (11 previous starts at the Masters)

2012 - Bubba Watson (3 previous starts at the Masters)

If we average out the number of starts the last ten winners had at Augusta before their first Green Jacket, the number sits at 6.1 and that includes both Danny Willett and Jordan Spieth winning on their second starts. As a result, it appears six starts is the average amount of starts you should give a player before expecting them to win their first Green Jacket.

Former major success - Nine of the last ten winners of this event had previously had a top-6 finish or better in a major, before winning their first Green Jacket. Tiger Woods is the exception but was still an amateur in his six major starts before he won the 1997 Masters.

Eight of the last ten winners of this event had either won or finished runner-up in a major previously in their career, before winning the Green Jacket. The exceptions were Danny Willett, whose previous best in a major was a T6 in the Open Championship the year prior, and Tiger Woods who as stated above was an amateur when playing in any majors before his 1997 Masters Victory. His previous best was the T22 when Low Amateur at the 1996 Open Championship.

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Tom Jacobs is the host of the Lost Fore Words golf podcast and has been writing betting articles on golf for the past decade. Tom also co-hosts the DP World Tour Picks & Bets show on the Mayo Media Network, so has his finger on the pulse on all the major Tours. A long-suffering Nottingham Forest fan, Tom also enjoys watching Soccer at the weekend, and was delighted to see his Forest team win promotion this season!


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