Proposed 5-acre deal could alter Augusta National’s iconic 13th hole

Proposed 5-acre deal could alter Augusta National’s iconic 13th hole

All parties to the proposed land deal involving Augusta National Golf Club and Augusta Country Club are keeping quiet this week. But the nearly yearlong negotiations between the two clubs are likely to resume after the green jacket is handed out Sunday at the Masters.

There’s a lot at stake, including a proposed payment of upward of $25 million for what amounts to 5 acres. That would account for ACC’s present par-4 ninth hole, a straightaway, slightly uphill 392-yarder. That hole sits left of ANGC’s 11th and 12th greens, with the boundary line marked by Rae’s Creek and a dense stand of pines.

Luckily for ACC, there’s plenty of room essentially to pick up the existing ninth hole and move it 50 yards to the south, as a 420-yard dogleg right. There would be no disruption of the routing, only a slightly longer walk back to the 10th tee.

As for ANGC, it would mean being able to lengthen the legendary par-5 13th hole by 50 yards, to 560. That would dramatically change the hole, in the process restoring it to the original design intent of being reachable in two after a powerful drive – but not driver/short iron, as it has become in the hands of the game’s bombers.

Equally important for ANGC, the acquisition of those 5 acres on the southeast side of Rae’s Creek would provide club access for maintenance and tournament infrastructure, perhaps even spectator circulation, to areas left of those two holes that are beyond reach. It also would enable ANGC to conduct heavier tree clearing around the 12th green, encouraging more air movement and morning sun for a green – the smallest on the course – that is in a difficult micro-climate for sustained quality turf maintenance.

There’s a lot to be worked out, not just the terms of land transfer. Any work in that area would require approval by environmental regulators, given the impact on stream flow and embankment stabilization of Rae’s Creek.

One thing is clear: The folks running ANGC harbor ambitious long-term visions. No aspect of the golf course and its surrounds has escaped meticulous planning. Recent work has involved converting a parking lot into a world-class practice facility, reworking Berckmans Road west of the course for better traffic flow and opening Berckmans Place as an upscale entertainment facility.

Acquisition of a 5-acre parcel on the perimeter of ANGC would give it considerable space to upgrade the golf course in terms of maintenance, challenge and presentation.

How much is 5 acres worth on the market today? When the buyer is ANGC, apparently a lot.