The 6 shots Jack Nicklaus believes determine every Masters

You might know the Masters, but you don’t know Augusta National like Jack Nicklaus knows Augusta National.

Nicklaus is a six-time green jacket winner, a stretch of Masters dominance untouched in golf history. But it takes more than just execution to win at Augusta National — let alone to win at Augusta National six times.

If you want to be a Masters legend, you must also pass a masterclass in course strategy. A class Nicklaus says boils down to six shots.

“I think that Augusta is a pretty straightforward golf course, except for about six shots,” he said. “Every golf course there’s a half-dozen shots or so that are important you get by.”

In his appearance on GOLF’s Drop Zone podcast with Sean Zak and Michael Bamberger, the Bear came out of hibernation to break down all things Augusta, including the six-shot, green jacket-winning strategy he says determines every Masters.

“At Augusta, the tee shot at No. 2, you can’t get down there to that Delta airline booth down there on the left,” Nicklaus said. “That’s a bad place to be, and a bad place to start a round.”

After No 2, the front nine eases out, which is when smart golfers try to go low. But the rubber meets the road once you make the turn toward Amen Corner.

“The second shot at 11 can get you in a lot of trouble, there’s a lot of water there,” he said. “And the tee shot at 12 is a lot of trouble.”

And recent history agrees. It was on the par-3 12th that Francesco Molinari saw his tee shot roll into Rae’s Creek and his Masters hopes dashed in 2019. He wasn’t the only one, either.

But interestingly, Nicklaus says the most dangerous hole on the course is the par-5 13th.

“I think both the tee shot and the second shot at 13 can get you in some trouble, and the second shot on 15,” he said.

Does that bode well for Bryson DeChambeau, who reportedly had only a pitching wedge left into the 13th during his practice round Monday? Time will tell. But Nicklaus argues one hole DeChambeau (and the rest of the field) shouldn’t be worried about is the par-3 16th.

“I never hit the ball in the water on 16, so I never worry about much on 16,” he said. “I hit the ball on the center of the green there every time.”

There you have it, the six shots that Nicklaus says determine the Masters every year: the tee shot on No. 2, the approach on No. 11, the tee shot on No. 12, the tee shot and approach on No. 13, and the approach on No. 15.

In other words, if you’re torn on what to watch this weekend, keep your eyes on the Amen Corner stream — you might just see the winner separate himself from the pack.

To hear the rest of Jack’s interview on the Drop Zone, click the link here, or download the episode wherever podcasts are found.


James Colgan Editor

James Colgan is a news and features editor at GOLF, writing stories for the website and magazine. He manages the Hot Mic, GOLF’s media vertical, and utilizes his on-camera experience across the brand’s platforms. Prior to joining GOLF, James graduated from Syracuse University, during which time he was a caddie scholarship recipient (and astute looper) on Long Island, where he is from. He can be reached at