For Tom Hoge, navigating the beauty (and danger) of Amen Corner will be key at the Masters – InForum

FARGO – Maybe when Katherine Lee Bates wrote “America the Beautiful” after a trip to Pikes Peak, things would have been different if she had sat down at Augusta National Golf Club on a perfect, sunny day. Perhaps Amen Corner would be part of the lyrics.

Holes 11, 12, and 13 aren’t often mentioned with the Grand Canyon, Mt. Rainier, or Yellowstone Park as America’s geographic treasures, but for golfers they are up there. However, when Tom Hoge plays his first round at the Masters on Thursday, he won’t be interested in being a tourist.

Not even Mike Podolak, the only other North Dakotan to ever play the Masters. The Oakes (ND) High School graduate and Oxbow resident made the camp in 1986 by virtue of him being part of the 1985 United States Walker Cup squad.

“Amen Corner is really the biggest part of the golf course,” Podolak said. “It is certainly the most interesting part of the golf course.”

Hoge, a graduate of Fargo South, qualified for the Masters after winning the Pebble Beach Pro-Am, his first win on the PGA Tour. He arrived in Augusta on Monday and will do his usual practice and training Monday through Wednesday. Thursday tee times have yet to be released.

But to make it to the weekend, there’s no doubt he’ll have to make his way through Amen Corner.

The two words were coined by “Sports Illustrated” writer Herbert Warren Wind in 1958, who said it was inspired by the song “Shoutin ‘in the Amen Corner”. With SI, Wind wrote: “In the furthest stretch of Augusta National Course – down at Amen Corner, where Rae’s Creek intersects the 13th fairway near the tee, so it is parallel to the front edge of the green on the 12th short and finally swirls along the 11th green “.

The fascination for the viewer is how he is arranged; fans are only allowed on one side of these three holes, leaving Augusta’s natural beauty uninterrupted at the back of the No. 11 and 12 and fairway n. 13 at the southernmost point of the route.

The ideal vantage point is just to the right of the 12th tee box, allowing you to see 11 greens, the entire 12th hole and most of the tee shot on 13.

The three holes are not visible from the 11 tee, but once a golfer reaches the top of the hill, the Amen Corner is immediately in focus.

“I stopped abruptly for five minutes,” said Charlie Hoge, Tom’s brother who played the course a few weeks ago. “It’s the culmination of what you watch on TV, then you realize you’re there. It just blew you away. “

For Podolak and Tom Hoge, it was and is more of the golf business. Number 11 has been significantly stretched since Podolak played it, one of the few on the longest pitch since the 1980s. The elevation hasn’t changed, especially from the 10th tee.

“My 1986 yardage book, which is pretty primitive, shows a 100-foot drop from tee to green,” Podolak said. “This is a great number.”

Tom Hoge said he intends to play them “cautiously”, saying par on 11 and 12 puts a player in good shape. When he played Podolak, the number 11 was around 450 yards. Now I’m 517.

“They brought the shirts back into the trees and added more length,” Podolak said. “If you roll a 4 there, you run to the next tee feeling pretty good. It’s such a tough shot. “

Number 13 is not that difficult. It is a short par-5 of 500 yards that due to the sharp left dogleg usually favors right-handed hitters who play a tie. But Rae’s Creek is also an ever-present danger in that hole.

Hoge plays more than one power fade, but that won’t stop him from reaching the green in two with a good tee shot. A huge right-to-left power draw can leave a player with a 5 or 6 iron on the green.

“The 13th is where you can catch up,” Podolak said. “You can take him to the green and putt for the eagle. There is a lot of drama in that hole and it has the same shape as 40 years ago. “

The 12th over the years has also been a real headache. It’s short, at around 157 yards, but potentially vicious with Rae’s Creek directly in front and bunkers in the back. The green is more horizontal in nature, it doesn’t leave much room to land the tee shot.

“I’ve seen so many rounds go into disaster just because of that one hole,” said Podolak. “The wind is whirling and you are always trying to figure out which club to hit. A lot of balls end up in that bunker in the back. “

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Mike Podolak of Oakes ND competes in the 1986 Masters golf tournament in Augusta Ga.

Forum file photo

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