Masters holes: Augusta National’s par-4 1st hole, explained by Tom Watson

In the 65 years since the Masters Tournament was first televised, golf fans have seen every inch of Augusta National’s beauty in high-def close-up. What you’ve never seen is the course — hole by hole, tee box by tee box — through the eyes of 18 living Masters champions, from Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Dustin Johnson, Ben Crenshaw and beyond. Until now. Eighteen holes, 18 winners, 18 ways of seeing Augusta National anew.

Hole No. 1: Par-4 / 445 yards (Tea Olive)

By Tom Watson (1977, 1981 Masters champion)

What you see off the tee: “A very wide expanse of fairway up to the bunker on the right at the top of the hill. You see the hole go downhill and then back uphill. And, of course, it’s totally lined by people — it starts narrow by the tee, then spreads out, and that really frames the hole.”

What you don’t know until you’ve played it: “The green has a false front. If you land short — in the first 20 to 30 feet — it’s going to roll all the way back off the green. So you have to carry the false front, and that makes the green smaller.”

Where you will make the biggest mistake: “Some players will approach the first hole differently because it’s the Masters and, obviously, that’s exciting. But you really have to suck it up and make a good swing and not get too tense.”

Why it’s unforgettable to me: “The final round in 1977, [when I won], I hit my ball in the right trees. Fortunately, I had some sort of opening, and I got it down just to the right of the green with a really good chip and made par. But that tee ball — it was not a good way to start.”

Did you know… In 1968, Roberto De Vicenzo eagled hole No. 1, only to lose the Masters in a heartbreaker later that day. It was his birthday.

Augusta National Golf Club via Getty Images
Augusta National Golf Club via Getty Images
Augusta National Golf Club via Getty Images
generic profile image