The 10th hole at Augusta is not formally considered part of the most famous stretch of holes in golf, “Amen Corner”. In spirit, though, it should be, because as many prayers go unanswered there as anywhere else on the course. No. 10, known as “Camellia”, after the evergreen shrubs located near the green, has been historically the most difficult hole at the Masters (4.32 average at the Par 4), just ahead of the next two “Amen Corner” holes, the Par-4 11th, and the famous par-3 12th across Rae’s Creek. (Last year, it rated as 8th-toughest). It’s not just its difficulty, though, that makes it standout. It’s also been the most pivotal hole on Sunday at the Masters over the last 20 years, a distinction that normally does not go to a hole at the start of the back nine. No. 10, though, is the second hole the golfers will reach if there is a playoff, and has also been a big part of notable rises and falls entering the home stretch on Sunday.
1. The most important Sunday moments usually happen here
Last year, Angel Cabrera had a three stroke lead entering the back nine; he bogeyed 10 while Adam Scott got a par. They returned to the same hole in the playoff, and Scott hit the memorable birdie for the win. Without picking up 2 shots on Cabrera on the 10th, Scott is not a champion. Rory McIlroy, who appeared ready to take the tournament by storm in 2011, was still in the lead at 11-under on Sunday, but made a triple bogey at #10, falling to 4-under by the end of Sunday. And who can forget Bubba Watson’s hooked wedge to win the Masters in 2012, getting out of trouble at the 10th?
No. 10 is beautiful, but deadly. Why does it tend to prove a gauntlet that separates contenders? Well, because everything about it is treacherous.
2. It is a long, downhill nightmare
“Camillia” is a 495 yard Par 4 at the Masters. For all of us common duffers, this would play as a Par 5 when you add in the additional difficulties of how it turns downhill. Here’s the hole layout from Augusta.com.
Zach Johnson has said that “the 10th is a blue [ski] run on any given mountain”, thanks to the 108 foot drop from tee to the fairway bunker. Here’s Ian Poulter providing a selfie looking down the fairway to green at No. 10.
3. The degree of difficulty off the tee is ridiculous
Many holes give the golfer the option of playing safe or going for it with a driver. But at “Camellia”, you cannot play it too safe or you will be in trouble on the second shot. That’s why we get so much drama on Sundays when it comes down to the leaders, the nerves, and needing a big tee shot. You’ve got to take it 270 to 280 yards down the right side to catch the hill. Come up short of that, and you will not get the roll necessary and leave a very tough second shot. The ideal shot is a right-to-left draw for the right-handed golfer, that contours with the “dog leg”. Hook it too much, and you are in trouble to the left and may not have a clear view of the green (see Rory in 2011). Don’t draw it and leave it right, and you end up where Bubba made his miracle shot–but miracles don’t come along often. Here’s a visual that Bubba signed showing the path of his drive and saving shot.
4. The green separates the contenders
It’s right-to-left sloping green is one of the most difficult on the course, and that’s if you get there with your second shot. Leave it short, and you could be looking at this chipping into the grain with your feet well below the surface. It also separates the contenders. Ben Crenshaw made an amazing 60 foot putt for birdie at No. 10 in 1984 on the way to winning the Masters.
Scott Hoch missed a two-foot putt for par at No. 10 that would have ended the playoff against Nick Faldo. And of course, there was last year, where Adam Scott draining the winner at the beautiful, deadly, and decisive No. 10.
[photos via USA Today Sports Images, Augusta.com]