Here’s the difference between Masters and U.S. Open rough

Augusta National is full of secrets. Who are the members? And how much does a membership cost? There are countless others, but that’s also what makes the club so mysterious and captivating.

But there’s one thing ANGC does disclose, and it’s actually not that different when compared to other clubs.

Augusta released all of its mowing lengths for the 2020 Masters on Monday (it has done this before, too), giving fans a small behind-the-scenes glimpse of what the agronomy team is aiming for. Here are the lengths, although this is all subject to weather conditions and growth:

Tees: 5/16 inch
Second cut: 1 3/8 inch
Fairways: 3/8 inch
Collars: 1/4 inch
Greens: 1/8 inch

Great. But what exactly does this mean to you? We asked a course superintendent to help us understand the information.

“Nothing really off the charts on their numbers,” said the super, whose home course hosted a major in the past few years. “That would be pretty standard at more higher-end private clubs and certain major championships. Some places even [cut] lower.”

The one notable difference, however, is the second cut. Augusta National’s rough (the club calls it its “second cut”) is 1 3/8 inches, according to the club, although in many spots it looks longer than that this week. (More than a few observers have noted that the second cut appears juicier than it has been at any Masters in recent memory.) According to the super, that’s similar to the length of most club’s intermediate rough — and the stuff beyond that is much thicker.

Augusta’s mowing lengths are actually very similar to what the USGA used at Winged Foot for the 2020 U.S. Open in September (although the clubs use some different grasses). Except for the rough, that is. Augusta’s second cut is 1 3/8 inches, which is slightly longer than the intermediate rough along the fairways at Winged Foot (1 inch). But Winged Foot, like many courses, has rough much gnarlier than that first cut. Winged Foot’s primary rough for the Open was 3 1/2 inches and the secondary rough was 5 inches. Augusta National doesn’t touch those lengths.

Dustin Johnson at the 2017 Masters…

Getty Images

…and a worker mowing the Winged Foot rough this year.

Getty Images

The super said these mowing lengths are likely pretty standard for Augusta National (whether the Masters is in April or November) and if Augusta had bentgrass fairways it might be cut even shorter. But that’s another thing. Most fans watching from home every year probably don’t know that the golfers are playing on new grass every year.

“Except for putting surfaces themselves, every bit of green grass that someone sees from the Masters coverage is brand new every year,” the super said.

This is because Bermuda grass grows during the summer and serves as a base, and around September the club overseeds ryegrass into the tees, fairways and rough. That new seed grows through the winter and is what you see for a typical April Masters. This year, players are seeing it much earlier than usual.

“That’s one of their biggest challenges,” the super said. “It’s just very new grass.”

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Josh Berhow

Golf.com Editor

Josh Berhow is the managing editor at GOLF.com. The Minnesota native graduated with a journalism degree from Minnesota State University in Mankato. You can reach him at joshua_berhow@golf.com.