AUGUSTA, Ga. -- While the distance debate in golf continues to rage, Augusta National is taking a wait-and-see approach, hoping the game's governing bodies can come to some sort of agreement that does not make the game more difficult for recreational players.
And yet, new Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley noted that the club's 13th hole no longer presents the test once envisioned, perhaps opening the possibility that length will be added to the iconic par-5.
"There's a great quote form Bobby Jones dealing specifically with the 13th hole, which has been lengthened over time; he said that the decision to go for the green in two should be a momentous one,'' Ridley said.
"And I would have to say that our observations of these great players hitting middle and even short irons into that hole is not a momentous decision.''
But Ridley did not say any changes to the hole are imminent.
"We continue to closely monitor how distances produced by today's players affect our game,'' he said. "Thankfully, we do have options, and further change may come after proper deliberation. But we do not think that additional length should be the immediate or only reaction to what we continue to observe at the Masters.''
At last year's Masters, the 13th ranked as the easiest hole on the course, playing to an average of 4.63 strokes. It yielded six eagles and 128 birdies and just 27 scores over par, including five double-bogeys.
The risk-reward nature of the hole is greatly diminished by the fact that a good drive usually means a short iron into the green.
The club recently purchased land from neighboring Augusta Country Club, which borders Augusta National behind the 12th green and 13th tee. The process took several years, and while it was meant mostly to give Augusta National more space along its perimeter, it also allows for the 510-yard 13th to be lengthened.
"I would hope it would be lengthened, personally,'' said Jordan Spieth, who won the 2015 Masters. "To take away certain players being able to cut off a lot of the hole and require pretty much everyone to hit it around the same line. That's advantageous to me because I don't fly it 310 yards up in the air with the right to left turn that Bubba [Watson] does, Rory [McIlroy] does, some of the guys can do. So that hole would be better for me if it were lengthened, I think.
"But the way it is, if you hit a great drive, you have an opportunity to reach in two, and just like any other hole, when a guy hits it further than you, if you're two clubs behind, you got to make up for that.''