How do you win the Masters at Augusta National? There are lots of ways. The most common ones you hear are to hit your irons well or putt even better. Another is about shot shape.
The latter was discussed by Jon Rahm in a recent appearance on GOLF’s Subpar Podcast with co-hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz, although not for the reason you’d think. Stoltz asked Rahm if the often-discussed narrative that Augusta National is a course that favors players who draw the ball is overblown, especially since Rahm is one of the best drivers on Tour and hits a fade.
“You hear that a lot, but whose got the most amount of Masters wins?” Rahm said. “Jack Nicklaus. What did he hit? A fade. I know it’s a different golf course, but the rule kind of still applies. Honestly, sometimes the way the holes play — you can still hit a fade on 2. I’ve seen it, I’ve done it. You can still hit it over the corner and fade it back. Thirteen is the one where I just hit a 3-wood usually and leave it short of the trees and that’s it.
“I think the harder one, for faders, is 14, if it’s firm. Because if you get it going a little right, for anybody actually, that ball just keeps going out to the right. So that’s a deceivingly hard tee shot.”
The most recent Masters champ, Dustin Johnson, set a tournament record by hitting his go-to fade in 2020. He used to play a draw but switched to a fade near the end of 2015.
“I was working with a new driver, I can’t remember exactly which one it was, but playing Sherwood [Country Club in California] you’ve got to drive it really straight, and I was really struggling,” Johnson said in 2020. “I just wasn’t happy with the way I was hitting the ball. So I went out, I said, today I’m going to cut every shot, and I think I shot 61 or something. The next day I went out and said, I’m going to fade every shot today, as well, and I think I shot 62. After that I think I said, OK, I’m going to fade it from now on.”
Rahm’s presence at this year’s Masters was up in the air until recently. His wife, Kelley, was pregnant with the couple’s first child and was due around Masters week. Rahm said he would prioritize the birth over the tournament and would not hesitate to leave if necessary. Kepa Cahill Rahm, however, was born on Saturday, so Rahm will be at Augusta National this week for his fifth Masters appearance after all. He’s finished in the top 10 in each of his last three. You can listen to Rahm’s full Subpar episode below.