Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Extensive' Changes to Par 4s on Way

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Extensive' Changes to Par 4s on Way

Article excerpt

Byline: Garry Smits, Times-Union sports writer

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- There were scant changes made to the Augusta National Golf Club for this year's Masters Tournament, but the club will more than make up for that in 2002.

Club chairman Hootie Johnson announced yesterday that unspecified but "extensive" changes will be made to as many as five par-4 holes for next year's tournament. Johnson did not say which holes but indicated it would be at least two on the front nine and at least two on the back nine.

Johnson called the changes "an attempt to strengthen some of our par 4s from the standpoint of length . . . and accuracy off the tee."

Tom Fazio, the architect of Pablo Creek and Amelia Island Long Point, will supervise the changes made to the course.

"He's been our golf architect for some extended period of time," Johnson said.

Augusta National has made several rounds of changes since 1997, when Tiger Woods broke a 21-year-old scoring record when he won at 18-under par. Since then, they have flattened the bank along the right side of the 15th fairway, grown trees between that hole and No. 17, changed some greens and added rough to the course for the first time.

Johnson said the changes have been in response to equipment advances that have resulted in more length off the tee for most professional players. Although no one has come within eight shots of Woods' score since then, Johnson said the changes are being made to curb length, not scoring.

"The equipment is making a huge difference and we are going to make an attempt, as we always have, to try and keep the golf course current with the times," Johnson said. "We hate to see people hitting sand wedges to 425-yard par 4s," Johnson said.

Johnson said no changes are planned to par-3 and par-5 holes. …

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