PAR 4 - 455 YARDS
The bunker on the right of the fairway has been extended over the years and it’s now 320 yards to get over. The big hitters used to fly it for fun and hit a sand wedge in, but now you’re landing on the upslope with little run, because they cut the grass towards the tee. It can be a 6 or 7-iron or perhaps more into the wind.
The 1st hole at Augusta is a great example of the strategy that’s needed all the way round. Sometimes you don’t want to be aiming at the hole. This is where your discipline has to be spot on because it’s very easy to get caught out. Your Langers, your Faldos, your Ballesteroses, they knew when to attack and when to defend.
There are sucker pins everywhere and sometimes the centre of the green is the only percentage play. The 1st hole has a number of very tricky pins. There’s one at the back left where if you’re too aggressive you can roll down a slope and are then facing at least a bogey. Centre of the green with an uphill putt is all you need. You need to build momentum, attack flags at the right time and build a score.
It’s easy to get cute, suffer the penalty and then get on a negative roll. This is why patience is crucial.
CHARL SCHWARTZEL: “The opening hole is harder than it looks. The fairway looks a mile wide off the tee but it is not hard to find trouble if you stray off line. You want to avoid the bunker on the right, which can be in play since the tee moved back. Ideally you want to be on the left-hand side of the fairway. I got my final round going here last year when I chipped in with a 6-iron for a birdie.”
BILLY FOSTER REMEMBERS: "Darren Clarke and I were paired with Tiger and it was on a day when the pin at one was frontleft. Woods had flown the fairway bunker (back when it was more like 280 to carry) and he’d hit a lovely sand wedge in only for the ball to hit the pin and spin back off the green and onto the downslope of the bunker. He was raging and Steve Williams, his caddie, said to me that it was the second time he’d done that in three goes."
PETER ALLISS: “It’s a question of being able to concentrate and getting your tee shot away as it’s very important to make a good start with a par. You used to carry the bunker years ago but you have to be a huge hitter to get over it now. You only need to miscue a bit and you’re up against the face so playing safe is the best bet to ensure you don’t dent your hopes before leaving the first green.”