The Masters – Amateurs at Augusta – The Golden Bell

The Masters – Amateurs at Augusta – The Golden Bell

29 March 2024

With the Masters just around the corner, we take a closer look at one of the course’s most iconic holes, The Golden Bell, or the 12th.

Golden Bell is both a dream and a nightmare for competitors with the iconic Hogan’s Bridge and floral backdrop creating an idyllic setting when things go to plan. But, the ever-present Rae’s Creek can be costly when things go wrong.

Typically playing around 155y in length, it is not the longest of Par 3s but do not be deceived, this can derail even the greats of the game. We have seen even, arguably, the GOAT of golf Tiger Woods make a 10 at the 12th – painful viewing off the back of winning his fifth Green Jacket in 2019!

So if the GOAT can run up a septuple bogey, +7, how would an amateur golfer tackle the 12th?

Our database has over 350 million shots and counting which allows us to see how amateur golfers would navigate The Golden Bell.

If the above data applies to a ‘normal hole’, the chances of hitting the Golden Bell we can confidently say will be smaller due to the fine margins for error.

Shots that go long, which rarely happens as we know from the data above, will find the floral backdrop or if ‘lucky’, the bunker – although a shot back towards Rae’s Creek could prove costly too.

The more likely scenario will be a wet one, with the most common amateur miss being short, a visit to Rae’s Creek seems almost inevitable for some.

In addition, the clever design of the hole makes hitting the green even more challenging. The difference between the frontmost section of the green and the backmost is approximately 26y. However, due to the angle of the green, the ‘deepest’ area of the green is closer to 14y, or 42ft…

A 14 yard window – small even for the elite of the game. 

A scratch golfer would have a good chance at hitting the green but when we look at our other handicap benchmarks, the same cannot be said for some of the others.

Even the low single figure player, the 5hcp, has an average proximity of 63ft, 1.5x larger than the deepest part of the green.

Due to the hole’s design, the green is a nightmare to hit. It tilts from right to left at roughly a 45 degree angle. 

The frontmost portion of the green can be roughly a 140y carry, whereas the back right portion is roughly another 20y to carry.

Shots that leak to the right will almost certainly end up in Rae’s Creek, and ones that are pulled long left may well be lost in the floral backdrop.

For example, when we look at the data of a 25hcp golfer, they are nearly twice as likely to miss the green right and as a result, just over 6 out of 10 attempts are likely to finish short.

For the amateur golfer, teeing it up on twelve would likely result in a reload on the tee box or a dropped ball short of Rae’s Creek. 

Making it even more difficult is the infamous swirling wind

For whatever reason, I’m sure there is a scientific reason for it or something, but the wind at Golden Bell swirls and causes players nightmares.

Using the Shot Scope MyStrategy feature, we can look at how wind can impact our club distances and dispersion.

In the examples below, we can see how wind and its direction can cause major issues. 

With no wind, 8 iron should find the green comfortably. However, when playing into a 15mph headwind, the player will find Rae’s Creek, never threatening to find dry land.

8i with a 15mph headwind

Reverse this wind and things are better, but still not great. Instead of finding the green, players could find the bushes, the bunker, or the rough – pick your poison!

8i with a 15mph tailwind

When we look at up and down attempts from 25-50y, we can see that if players were to play a dropped ball over Rae’s Creek, they would almost certainly be dropping further shots. 

It is easy to see how an amateur golfer could quickly run up a high score.

The shots to finish in the table are for ‘normal’ holes so we can easily imagine that depending on the first shot, we could easily be doubling or tripling these numbers.

Will The Golden Bell provide us with more highlights and horrors this year? Almost certainly. Will we be watching? Almost certainly.

The Golden Bell, a hole like no other.

You can see some of the mishaps at The Masters and the 12th here:


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