Is the iconic par-3 12th hole at Masters Tournament too easy?

AUGUSTA, Ga. —  Here’s a course change idea you don’t hear thrown around at Augusta National Golf Club very often: The iconic par-3 12th hole for the Masters Tournament should be lengthened because it’s become too easy.

Yet that’s exactly what 2000 tournament champion Vijay Singh would like to see happen to the 155-yard hole.

“We used to hit 7-irons and 6-irons and then it started going to 7-irons and 8-irons and it’s gone from 8-irons to 9-irons and the guys are hitting wedges now,” said Singh, who is playing in his 31st Masters. “They should lengthen it by at least 10 yards. I think it should go to at least 170. I think it would be a much more challenging hole if people were hitting a 6-iron or a 7-iron instead of a 9-iron or wedge.

Singh might be on to something.

Starting in 2018, the stroke average on No. 12 has gone down every year with the exception of 2022, when it was 3.233. Last year, it was 3.058 with 49 birdies, 47 bogeys and nine double bogeys or higher.

“It used to be a hole that you go to and everybody used to worry about it, distance-wise, to get the correct distance,” Singh said. “But now it’s ‘hit a 9-iron to the middle of the green.’”

Asked if he thought the club would ever lengthen it, Singh said “I hope so.”

Ben Crenshaw, who is almost as famous for his golf course architecture work as his two Masters titles, was asked what he thought of Singh’s idea.

“Ten yards? Actually, it’s not a bad idea,” said Crenshaw, who is retired from the Masters.

Luke List and Keegan Bradley are among Masters participants who believe it would be a bad idea. A real bad idea.

In fact, List laughed when he was told Singh wants to lengthen the hole.

“I’ll go on the record that I disagree with that,” List said. “It’s fun to have short par-3s, especially ones that are difficult. The wind is swirling there always. Guys are going to make 2s but you’re going see enough 5s. Does it need to be a 7- or 6-iron? I don’t think so.”

Bradley calls it a “perfect hole” that doesn’t need to be lengthened.

“I don’t agree with that,” Bradley said. “I just love that hole. It’s ironic. I wouldn’t do that. It’s tough, it’s tricky. If you hit a good shot you’ll have a good look at birdie. I think if you go a little farther (back with the tee) it could go a little weird.”

If it were to happen one day, it might be the most controversial course change in the history the course, of which there have been many, especially since nearly 300 yards were added in 2002.That trend has continued as the club tries to keep up with improved golf equipment technology and better-trained athletes. Twelve yards were added to the par-5 second hole this year, bringing the course yardage to 7,555 yards. It was 6,985 yards in 2001.

The 12th hole is considered the most famous hole at the Masters – and among the greatest par 3s anywhere for various reasons, from its beauty and the unpredictable swirling winds in Amen Corner that pay havoc with club selection.

That’s probably why at 155 yards, it is the only hole on the course whose yardage has not changed since the first Masters in 1934.

“That’s cool,” Bradley said.

2024 Masters
2024 Masters

Will Zalatoris and Tiger Woods walk to the No. 12 green during a practice round for the 2024 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. (Photo: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Network)

Another par-3, the sixth hole, has had its yardage changed slightly. It was 185 in 1939, the first time Augusta National published hole yardages. It went to 190 yards in 1950 and has been at 180 yards since 1980.

If Singh is right, and the 12th has become too easy, that might explain why there has been little or no drama on that hole in the final round of the past four Masters.

It used to be that everyone stopped what they were doing to see what happened on the 12th hole. But the last time it was a pivotal hole was in 2019 when Francesco Molinari, Books Koepka and Tony Finau, who were battling Tiger Woods for the lead, all three went into the water and made double bogeys. Woods made par and was on his way to his fifth green jacket.

And don’t tell Jordan Spieth that No. 12 is an easy hole. Of course, he made a quadruple bogey 7 on No. 12 in 2016, losing his lead and ended up finishing tied for second place, three shots behind Danny Willett.

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek