Updated January 18, 3:56 PM CT
Amen corner, Augusta National
It was 1958 at the Masters Tournament, where Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson crossed two bridges over Rae's Creek. A young pro named Arnold Palmer won the tournament for the first time, and Amen Corner was born.
Holes Nos. 11, 12 and 13 at Augusta National Golf Club had been around for 25 years, but a catchy nickname for the three holes didn't exist until 1958.
The 11th (White Dogwood) is a 505-yard par-4 with a pond guarding the left-front of the green, making it a treacherous approach to a tricky surface. Ben Hogan famously said that if he is on the green in two at 11, "you'll know I missed my second shot." Most pros, when wanting to play it safe, will hit their second shot toward the right part of the green. If they miss it right, it gives them an up-and-down pitch for par.
The 12th hole (2nd of 3) at Amen Corner.
The 12th (Golden Bell) is a 155-yard par-3 and one of golf's most famous holes. Its green is narrow, with a bunker long and short.
If you're short, you're in danger of bouncing back into Rae's Creek (that area of the course's swirling winds don't make it any easier). The usual Sunday pin placement at the Masters is tucked to the right of the green. It was the course's seventh-hardest hole in 2016 (3.23) when Jordan Spieth had his epic collapse.
The closing hole of Amen Corner is the short par-5 13th (Azalea), which plays at 510 yards. Players tee off behind Rae’s Creek, just off the 12th green — the farthest away they are from patrons.
It played as the second-easiest hole in 2016 (4.73) and is the ultimate risk-reward test, especially with only five holes remaining after it. (In past years, with players hitting the ball farther, some have found ways to pick it apart, hitting wedges and short irons into the greens on their second shots.
Before the 2016 Masters, there was a report that ANGC was looking to buy land from neighboring Augusta Country Club to move the tee box back and lengthen the hole.) If players need to make a move coming into the clubhouse, this might be the hole where their mindset changes. But with Rae’s Creek running in front of the green, which slopes back to front, there's enough danger there to make the pros sweat. At the 1978 Masters, Tommy Nakajima made a 13 on it, tied for the highest one-hole score in Masters history. Tom Weiskopf also holds that record.
The 14th hole - effectively the halfway point of any back-nine charge at Augusta National - is known as Chinese Fir. It was initially called Spanish Dagger. It is the only hole at Augusta National without a bunker, though that wasn't always the case. There used to be a large bunker down the right side, except that it was so close to the tee that it never came into play. It was eliminated in 1952.
The three holes where Rae's Creek meets the National played a vital role in the early years of the Masters. The Nelson Bridge commemorates Nelson's charge of a birdie at No. 12 and an eagle at No. 13 to win in 1937. The Hogan Bridge honors Hogan's score of 274 in 1953, then the lowest 72-hole score in Masters history.
Sports Illustrated golf writer Herbert Warren Wind dubbed the 11th, 12th and 13th holes "Amen Corner" after the 1958 Masters: "On the afternoon before the start of the recent Masters golf tournament, a wonderfully evocative ceremony took place at the farthest reach of the Augusta National Course -- down in the Amen Corner where Rae's Creek intersects the 13th fairway near the tee, then parallels the front edge of the green on the short 12th and finally swirls alongside the 11th green."
Ran DeBord ~ All Access Sporting News (AASNSports)
Sources for this article include: PGAMedia, PGACommunications, TheMasters, USGA, AASNSports
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