Course Spotlight

The Best Designed Holes at Augusta National, According to Masters Legend Jack Nicklaus

By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Published on

Scenic view of No 12 green at Augusta National. Augusta, GA (Photo by Kohjiro Kinno /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

What are some of the top holes at Augusta National Golf Club from an architecture perspective?
Opinions vary greatly.
From the holes of Amen Corner to the dramatic 16th, and on to the finishing 18th, There has been so much history and memorable moments on almost every hole that picking the best may be difficult.
So I asked someone who might have a little more course knowledge than most golfers – and an unmatched resume in the Masters.
That’s Jack Nicklaus, a six-time Masters Champion, 18-time major title winner and, arguably, one of the golf’s GOATs.
In talking with Mr. Nicklaus, I asked him, from a design perspective, what his top four favorite holes at Augusta National were.
Here’s what he had to say.
Hole No. 7; Pampas; Par 4, 450 yards
“I think seven is a beautiful little hole; a little, short, par four. You got to be pretty precise with your tee shot. Then it’s a very demanding little second shot. It’s very difficult to recover from if you get off track.”
(Photo by Augusta National via Getty Images
In 1986, when Nicklaus won his final Green Jacket, the seventh hole played to a length of 360 yards. So, at that point, it was, as Jack explains, a short little hole. Whether it was then, at 360 yards, or today at 450, the real defense on seven is its green complex. The slick, and treacherous green has three bunkers guarding the front and two at the back.
An interesting piece of history on this hole: in 1937, Byron Nelson drove the seventh and two putted for birdie. The hole played 320 yards at that time. So, in 1937, that was indeed a mighty feat.
Hole No. 10; Camellia; Par 4, 495 yards
“I think number 10 is a beautiful hole. It rolls down into the valley with the green sitting at the bottom. And of course, all the trees surrounding it. Ten's a gorgeous hole.”
(David Cannon/Getty Images)
The view from the 10th tee, and down the hill to the green is breathtaking. The hole has seen so much drama over the years. From Rory visiting the cabins on the left, to Bubba’s crazy hooking wedge from the trees on the right.
In 1986, Nicklaus started his final round back-nine charge by draining a 25-foot birdie putt on the tenth. Co-leader at the time, Greg Norman, who started the day with a six-shot lead, made a double bogey six on 10. That three-shot swing helped propel Nicklaus to his iconic one-shot win.
Hole No. 12; Golden Bell; Par 3, 155 yards
“Let's see . . . No. 12. Yes, 12 is a very nice natural little hole sitting on the water. It's a beautiful but scary hole.”
(David Cannon/Getty Images)
Sometimes the shortest of holes can make the best players in the world tremble. Players likely start thinking of the 12th very early into their rounds – especially on Sunday when they are in the hunt. There have been famous catastrophes on Golden Bell, but there have also been amazing moments of luck that laid the groundwork for slipping on the Green Jacket.
In 1992, Fred Couples was a recipient of some rare Masters luck. His 8-iron hit the front bank and instead of rolling back into Rae’s Creek, the ball stopped inches from the water. Couples went on to get up and down, and eventually win the Green Jacket.
Hole No. 13; Azalea; Par 5, 545 yards
“Well, I think 13 is a totally natural hole. You know, it sits in there perfectly. The creek comes through on the left and it just needs to be played to the right of it and around it. And then, of course, the creek crosses in front of the green and the green sets into the hillside. So, I think that's a beautiful hole.”
(David Cannon/Getty Images)
The iconic 13th has been the spot for so many memorable moments over the years. In 1986, Nicklaus knocked his 3-iron to 30 feet in the final round and two putted for birdie. Of course, the rest of that round was stuff of legend, as Nicklaus won his sixth and final Green Jacket at the age of 46.