Earlier this weekMasters chairman Hootie Johnson addressed the media. Due to an unannouncedschedule change, many reporters arrived late. Here's a partial transcript of anannouncement made by Johnson before most entered.
As many of youknow, we made a number of changes to our golf course, changes we feel werenecessary to maintain the traditional shot values and integrity of our holes.I'm sure you will agree that at 7,445 yards, Augusta National presents a moresuitable challenge for the world's best golfers, and I look forward to seeingthem rise to it.
There are morechanges on the way. The par-3 contest on the Wednesday of Masters week has beena wonderful tradition since 1960, but with the distances today's players hitthe ball, our nine-hole par-3 course, whose longest hole is only 140 yards, hasbecome outdated. Last year, for example, some participants didn't play morethan wedge on any hole.
You've seen thescores. The winning total hasn't been higher than 23 since 1998, whentechnology in the game began to make rapid advancements. Jerry Pate won thepar-3 contest last year, and we feel that if a senior golfer can shoot a 22,things have gone too far. There have also been 58 holes in one--an exorbitantnumber. Plus, the last eight winners have shot a cumulative 37 under par!(Based on par 72, that's the equivalent of 251 in a full-sized 72-hole event.)Suffice it to say, we cannot idly stand by and watch our par-3 grounds be madeobsolete.
Therefore, beforewe are made to do so at the point of a bayonet, we intend to lengthen the par-3course. Next year the course will measure 2,100 yards instead of the current1,060 yards so that today's pros will be required to play eight-iron shots onholes that called for an eight-iron when George Cobb and Clifford Robertsdesigned and built the course in 1958.
There is aprecedent for change. The par-3 course was last renovated in 1987, when whatwere then the relatively easy 1st and 2nd holes were scrapped and the current8th and 9th holes were added. These require difficult shots over Ike'sPond.
The nextmodifications will be performed, of course, by Tom Fazio. Among them will be alengthening of the 1st hole (Rose Thorn), now a modest 130 yards, to 246 yards,by constructing a new tee off the back patio of Butler Cabin. Also, the 8thhole (Blooming Thistlebud) will be transformed from a mere 120-yarder to adazzling, downhill 255-yarder by placing the tee box up the hill and across theservice road behind Eisenhower Cabin. Hitting that green on the edge of thepond will require the sort of squarely struck shot that would make Bob Jonessmile.
The remainder ofthe changes are detailed in the release that can be found in the press center.Thank you, and enjoy the tournament.
by JIM GORANT
Coming off two straight top three finishes, RetiefGoosen will win the Masters.
A Wednesday tradition will be fortified when the shot values imagined by Cobband Roberts are restored.