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Brett Hochstein

  • Karma: +0/-0
Setting aside Augusta being the ultimate Ship of Theseus (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ship_of_Theseus) in golf design, I'm curious what those who have familiar knowledge with both the course's history and the details of the ground would say are the greens complexes most true to MacKenzie and Jones's original creation.  We know everything has been reconstructed (often multiple times) and that nearly or all greens are smaller than original (and lacking the flourishes of narrow tongues, horseshoes, etc.), but what out there remains most physically true in terms of shapes/slopes/contours?


As this is certainly complex and nuanced to answer, I'd break this down into four categories:


1. True to original. Most or all contours still the same, even if overall footprint of green may not be as large. Slight softening of a percent or two of slope still fits here.  14 perhaps an example here? 3?
2. Parts of green true to original.  Some contours still the same, but others completely changed or softened to such an extent that the ideas behind such contours have been lost as well. 
3. Concept of green true to original, but physical elements not.  These greens "play" similarly to what the designers intended, but they don't necessarily take on the same physical form in terms of contours, size, etc.  Hole 8, which had to be completely rebuilt from pictures and anecdotes, could qualify here, but I'm curious more about greens that have intentionally deviated more in their "forms" but perhaps still achieve the same strategic "functions" as intended by MacKenzie and Jones. 
4. Not original at all. Holes 7, 10, and 16 are examples of this, RTJ re-doing the latter and Perry Maxwell the former two.


Some of these are obvious to me, particularly the extreme-end categories.  The middle ones offer more debate and search for less-heralded and less-documented changes. 


I'm not really looking for a debate over what is "good" or "bad" on this thread (and would discourage such--maybe that's a followup thread instead) but rather a collective deep dive into what sort of actual "MacKenzie" remains on the greens and what we can be looking out for when we watch the golf later this week (and, for those ever fortunate enough to walk the grounds, which contours and greens to most study). Thank you in advance to all those who can meaningfully contribute.
"From now on, ask yourself, after every round, if you have more energy than before you began.  'Tis much more important than the score, Michael, much more important than the score."     --John Stark - 'To the Linksland'

http://www.hochsteindesign.com

Ian Andrew

  • Karma: +0/-0
I thought there was at least five Maxwell greens, a few RTJ (11,16), a Nicklaus (13), a Nelson ( 8) etc. 

Please correct me if Iím wrong, just going from memory.

Iím quite certain thereís been work done on 17 of 18 greens during the Fazio era alone. Thatís what I remember from a conversation. The only surface untouched was the 12th.

« Last Edit: April 07, 2024, 03:04:24 PM by Ian Andrew »
Change is good.

Tom_Doak

  • Karma: +1/-1
All of those greens have been rebuilt in my lifetime.


Starting in 1979 or 1980, before they had as much $ as today, the club started rebuilding the greens to USGA specifications.  Two greens were done each year, and that work was done without the exacting technology for rebuilding them that we have today.  [I only know this because my first visit was in the summer of 1981 and they were working on #3 and #6.]


Eventually, of course, they were all redone, and most of them have probably been rebuilt again since.


As you know, every time you rebuild a green you have a chance to soften the contours if you want, and I believe most of the greens at Augusta have gone through the wringer several times.


It makes sense for #12 to have had less done to it, because it is essentially flat, but I'm certain that it was built up at least two feet from the original elevation many years ago to keep it dry.  And I believe they held out the longest before renovating #14, but they have tweaked that one and added hole locations at the back and left in recent years.


Honestly, most of them are different now.  #1, #12, and #17 seem like the ones where the least has been done in my 42 years of observation.  I have no idea if #11 and #15 were similar before the ponds were built, but they haven't had much change in recent years.  #8 was rebuilt with help from Byron Nelson's memories of the original after the club had bulldozed it years earlier; ironically, that one seems among the most MacKenzie-like in character.




P.S.  The most amazing part of the whole episode is that for most of the 1980s the pros were hitting some shots to sand-based greens and some shots to the old push-up greens plus whatever topdressing had built up on those, and yet I never heard a single player remark on the difference.

Thomas Dai

  • Karma: +0/-0




1934 I believe.
atb

Brett Hochstein

  • Karma: +0/-0


Starting in 1979 or 1980, before they had as much $ as today, the club started rebuilding the greens to USGA specifications.  Two greens were done each year, and that work was done without the exacting technology for rebuilding them that we have today.  [I only know this because my first visit was in the summer of 1981 and they were working on #3 and #6.]


Eventually, of course, they were all redone, and most of them have probably been rebuilt again since.


As you know, every time you rebuild a green you have a chance to soften the contours if you want, and I believe most of the greens at Augusta have gone through the wringer several times.


It makes sense for #12 to have had less done to it, because it is essentially flat, but I'm certain that it was built up at least two feet from the original elevation many years ago to keep it dry.  And I believe they held out the longest before renovating #14, but they have tweaked that one and added hole locations at the back and left in recent years.


Honestly, most of them are different now.  #1, #12, and #17 seem like the ones where the least has been done in my 42 years of observation.  I have no idea if #11 and #15 were similar before the ponds were built, but they haven't had much change in recent years.  #8 was rebuilt with help from Byron Nelson's memories of the original after the club had bulldozed it years earlier; ironically, that one seems among the most MacKenzie-like in character.




P.S.  The most amazing part of the whole episode is that for most of the 1980s the pros were hitting some shots to sand-based greens and some shots to the old push-up greens plus whatever topdressing had built up on those, and yet I never heard a single player remark on the difference.


Thanks, Tom. As usual, a helpful and insightful post.


That's a good point about early USGA re-construction and not having any scanning ability.  What exactly would their process have been?  I suppose in theory they could have been coring out their 16 inch wells right from what's there, which may have resulted in some +/- 1-2" here and there with error, but it wouldn't really be changing the grander contours/ideas of the greens.  Of course, when you do that a few times, and you are coring out gravel and all that other junk...yeah


I'm not expecting anything to be minutely exact to original MacKenzie (nor are hardly any of his greens when you factor in 90+ years of cultural practices and mystery tinkerers, but that's another topic), but what I am after are what ideas and overall slopes that still exist and function closely to what he first put out there.  Probably will take some more time to sort and analyze than just asking a couple questions on GCA, but it's a start.
"From now on, ask yourself, after every round, if you have more energy than before you began.  'Tis much more important than the score, Michael, much more important than the score."     --John Stark - 'To the Linksland'

http://www.hochsteindesign.com

Simon Barrington

  • Karma: +0/-0
Hi Brett

A personal story you might and others may find interesting.

I was fortunate enough to go to The Masters for my one and only visit so far in 2003 (the year Mike Weir won in a playoff on the 10th Green, versus Len Mattiace).

I was walking between the 14th & 15th fairways when a chap on a Rules Buggy shouted my name, it was a former colleague and peer of mine at the PGA European Tour (I had been working at the PGA in the UK) and he was so pleased to see me (out of context) and noted that if I had stayed working with the PGA I would have been refereeing that same week at Augusta (as my successor actually was)!

We got talking and he asked was I still involved in Golf. I had recently been helping my Home Club for its Centenary in leading a restoration of the original 1907/8 James Braid Course. So I had a burgeoning interest in GCA.

At that point the Member in a Green Jacket, also on the Buggy with his back to me, turned around and it was the late great Sir Michael Bonallack.

He asked me my thoughts on the course. I said I wasn't going to say the usual "it's far hillier than I had thought from TV etc." but one thing was really burning my curiousity. He asked what.

I responded that I had been an avid watcher of the event for years on TV and there was one place on the course I wanted to see in person more than any other, the back left section of the 14th Green. Where balls were prone to moving around as if they were on a string and erractically rolling around like one of those trick golf-balls, so I wanted to understand the slopes etc.
"But, now I am here, I am really confused as it is far far flatter than I thought it would be, almost like a table top!"

Sir Michael (Rest his soul) looked at me for a moment, winked, smiled and said "Good spot, we flattened it this winter!"

So the 14th has been modified a little over the years, and specifically that year.

I was reassured I wasn't crazy, and that my GCA eye might be a little better than I had hoped.

Cheers!
« Last Edit: April 11, 2024, 12:22:31 PM by Simon Barrington »

Sven Nilsen

  • Karma: +0/-0
The 12th was enlarged by Maxwell in 1939, raised 18 inches in 1966 and warming coils were added under the green in 1982.
"As much as we have learned about the history of golf architecture in the last ten plus years, I'm convinced we have only scratched the surface."  A GCA Poster

"There's the golf hole; play it any way you please." Donald Ross

Buck Wolter

  • Karma: +0/-0
Rory talked about the area around the greens complexes getting 'sharper' -- question from Geoff I believe at about the 2:30 minute mark. 3 and 11 were specifically discussed by Rory -- making the chipping more difficult.


https://www.masters.com/en_US/watch/2024-04-09/17126841680032293/rory_mcilroy_tuesday_interview_2024.html
Those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience -- CS Lewis

Doug Spets

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Number 3

Joel_Stewart

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Number 3


Possibly 3 but I would say 14 which although Fazio took some slope off the back right and tinkered with the back left, its pretty true to the original intent. IMHO, 1,3 and 14 are the best greens on the course.

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