From the very nice GolfClubAtlas website, Daniel Wexler discusses the changes to Augusta National over the more than 70 years since its creation.
It is a true paradox in the world of golf course design.
Consider the game’s two most famous layouts, the Old Course at St. Andrews and the Augusta National Golf Club. The former is a product primarily of nature and a timeless, almost mystical evolution – as though whatever cosmic forces govern such things have gently massaged the landscape (with a little help from Alan Robertson) over the course of several centuries. The latter, conversely, ranks among the most carefully planned layouts of all time, its creators – the legendary Bobby Jones and Dr. Alister MacKenzie – building it as the embodiment of a clearly articulated set of cutting-edge design principles. Yet as the game has changed immeasurably over the last 110 years, St. Andrews, a golf course “built” with virtually no plan whatsoever, has remained largely constant. Augusta, on the other hand, a layout based on the strictest of concepts, has been altered nearly beyond description.
But Augusta, after all, is not your local neighborhood golf course; indeed, it is not even your standard, run-of-the-mill, Major championship venue. By hosting The Masters every peacetime April since 1934, it has inevitably been subject to the sort of nipping and tucking that generally takes place perhaps once a decade (when a U.S. Open or PGA Championship visits) at places like Winged Foot, Oakmont or Pebble Beach. But at Augusta, well-intended ideas to improve the golf course seldom are tempered by several years’ worth of study and debate; with the next Major never more than 12 months away, they happen quickly – and, in the contemporary era, with almost numbing regularity.