Amen Corner: Say a Prayer
This trio of holes, rounded off by the magnificent par-5 13th, is where Masters Champions are made
Herbert Warren Wind, covering the 1958 Masters for Sports Illustrated, used the name of a jazz recording, Shoutin’ in that Amen Corner, as his inspiration for a collective noun for the trio of holes, which had played a significant role in the outcome of that year's championship, won by Arnold Palmer.
Since then, Amen Corner has become part of golf folklore.
Augusta, during Masters Week at least, is one of the world's most beautiful courses and Amen Corner is its picturesque high point.
Eerie, too. With spectators held back behind the 12th tee, the 11th and 12th greens, along with the 13th teebox, can be places of cathedral-like quiet.
The three holes, comprising a 505-yard par-4 (the 11th), followed by a 155-yard par-3 and rounded off with a 510-yard par-5, with Rae's Creek entwining itself around and across each of them like a snake waiting to strike, are a demanding test.
What makes them so, says England's Nick Faldo, a three-time Masters champion, is "a mixture of things".
“You get swirling breezes funnelling through and there's such a sense of history about the place,” says Faldo, who sealed two of his Masters victories at Amen Corner, in sudden-death play-offs which both ended on the 11th in 1989 and 1990.
“Each hole is so individual: the 11th has really grown and there's the pond to negotiate. The 12th is a brilliant par-3 with a tough angle to the green and the 13th is nearly a 90-degree dogleg and you just can't appreciate the slope of the fairway on television, so you've got to negotiate that and avoid all the other trouble that it has to offer. It's just an extremely difficult set of holes.”
The 13th, pictured, is arguably the most exciting hole out there. At only 510-yards it’s a short par-five by modern standards and offers the chance to make amends for earlier errors. Make no mistake however: it is laced with dangers.
The tee shot has to be worked hard from right to left to find the fairway. From there comes the dilemma. Lay up short of the Rae's Creek tributary which flows across the front of the green, or go for the wickedly sloping putting surface in two.
"That's part of why Augusta is such a great test of golf," Faldo says. "There's so much history and then there's your own memories of past failures: everything about it is designed to tense your mind and test your nerve.”
Written by Alex Jenkins
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