Golf: The Masters - Key hole surgery makes the 17th a formidable obstacle for medium to short hitters

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The Independent Online
THE TEE has been moved back 25 yards at Nandina to give the 425- yard, par-four 17th hole extra length. Until last year, players could hit a pitching wedge into the green but will now be forced, depending on the wind, to play their approach with either an eight or a five iron.

Shifting the tee has brought the Eisenhower Pine, in the left-centre of the fairway, more into play for the medium to short hitters, who will have to work the ball round the tree. The big hitters, however, are unaffected, still being able to aim at and over it. The tree was so named because the former US President hit into it so often, he campaigned to have the pine removed.

A cluster of trees added to the right of the 15th fairway also comes into play on the right of the 17th, forcing those who have to hit around the Eisenhower Pine to strike a right-to-left draw. Previously considered a weak penultimate hole, the changes to the 17th could have a telling effect on the 63rd Masters.

They are also the most controversial adjustments to the Augusta National, with the longest hitters relatively unaffected but others forced to shape their tee shot more precisely and hit a longer approach. "Wow, what a tee shot," said the non-playing Jack Nicklaus. "The 17th needed something. It has played too short and too easy for a 17th hole for too long."