Golden Bell rings a warning

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The Independent Online
Do not ask Tom Weiskopf for whom the Golden Bell tolls. It's still ringing in his ears. Weiskopf, now a television commentator, dropped the biggest clanger in championship golf when he managed to take 13 on the shortest hole at Augusta National, writes Tim Glover.

The treacherous little 12th (above) - the Golden Bell is a yellow blossom, Forsythia intermedia, that is native to China - measures just 155 yards and is arguably the most dangerous par three in the world. "It's a very, very nasty hole," Sandy Lyle said."You can be caught unaware by the wind. It's unpredictable. There's nowhere to bail out. You have to hit the perfect shot."

Between the tee and the green lies Rae's Creek, and this is where Weiskopf met his watery grave. He hit the ball into the blue-dyed Creek ... time and time again. It is not just the water that is intimidating. The green is narrow and feels as if it has been baked in a brickworks. Beyond the water but short of the flag is a bunker and beyond the hole are two more sandtraps.

The Golden Bell regularly ranks as the most difficult hole at the Masters. Last year the average score there was 3.43 and the year before 3.42. The hole can be played, depending on the wind, with anything from a 4-iron to a 9-iron. If it was cruel to Weiskopf it was kind to Fred Couples in 1992. He was saved by the Bell en route to victory when his tee shot hit the bank but the ball came to rest inches from the water. "It was the biggest break of my life," he said.