The Masters: Amen Corner

maar02_herbwindThis week we turn our attention to another famed and historic aspect of the Masters Tournament, one that carries as much mystique and history as the Green Jacket or the Tournament itself: Amen Corner. Comprised of holes 11, 12, and 13 at Augusta National, Amen Corner is known as much for each holes' individual beauty as for the extreme difficulty many players experience while facing their challenge.  Successfully navigating and scoring on this small stretch of Augusta National has become a critical point in any Masters Champion's success; however, failing to do so has also shattered the dreams of many golfers over the decades in a matter of three holes.  Read on to learn more interesting facts about "Amen Corner", including name origins and hole information. Perhaps one of the best pieces written on Amen Corner is that by John Boyette, a sportswriter whose work is featured on the 2011 Masters Tournament website this year.  As Boyette explains, this stretch of three holes is quite possible the most famous stretch of real estate in all of golf.  It is the most photographed section of golf course in the world thanks mainly to its unbelievable landscape comprised of pine trees, magnolia trees, azaleas, and other plants not typically found in this area of the United States.

Origins of the name "Amen Corner" differ depending on what you read or whom you might ask, however the most common story involves a Sports Illustrated reporter by the name of Herbert Warren Wind.  In 1958, or so the story goes, Wind was writing a piece on the Masters Tournament and deemed the second half of hole 11 through 13 as "Amen Corner", borrowing the name from an old jazz recording called "Shouting at Amen Corner."  Another of the many historic landmarks within the boundaries of these three golf holes is Rae's Creek, which runs in front of the No. 12 green, has a tributary at the No. 13 tee, and passes by the back of the No. 11 green.  Named after John Rae, this creek pays tribute to the man whose home served as the furthest "fortress" up the Savannah River from Fort Augusta and protected residents in the area during attacks from Indian tribes.  Today this creek serves as a daunting hazard for many golfers competing at The Masters and has contributed to some of the most memorable (and forgettable) moments in golf history.

As is the case with all holes at Augusta National, those which comprise Amen Corner carry names that pay heed to cosmetic details and other features found on each hole.  The 11th hole is named "White Dogwood" thanks to the large number of dogwood trees found on the left side of the fairway.  At an astonishing 505 yards, this par-4 has a cumulative scoring average over the years of 4.29.  There have been only 4 eagles in the history of the Masters on the 11th (Jerry Braber in 1962, Brad Faxon in 2002, K.J. Choi in 2004, and Rory Sabbatini in 2006).  This whole has decided all but three of Master's sudden-death playoffs.

The 12th hole, "Golden Bell", is aptly named due to a large bundle of golden flowers found just behind the green.  This par-3 hole is as challenging as any in the history of golf, yielding only 3 aces in the history of the Masters (Claude Harmon in 1947, William Hyndman in 1959, Curtis Strange in 1988). While only measuring between 150-165 yards most days, this hole continues to be a challenging test thanks to swirling winds and Rae's Creek directly in front of the green.  Overall, Golden Bell has cumulated a scoring average of 3.30.

The 13th hole is deemed "Azalea" for obvious reasons; more than 1,500 azaleas make a stunning backdrop for the par-5 hole, running down the left side of the hole and around the green.  This hole has traditionally been seen as a must-birdie opportunity over the years, averaging a cumulative score of 4.80.  In 1994 Jeff Maggert recorded a double-eagle 2 on the hole, which remains as the only of its kind to this day.

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