Tackling the 12th at Augusta – Amateur Edition
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Tackling the 12th at Augusta – Amateur Edition

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Tackling the 12th at Augusta – Amateur Edition

Golden Bell is the iconic 12th hole at Augusta National. Although it typically plays around 155 yards during the Masters, it has rung many players’ bells with its unassuming knockout power.

As with nearly, if not all, the holes at Augusta National, Golden Bell is breathtakingly beautiful, but as those who have played it will attest, its serene looks can be deceiving. It’s an absolute card killer.

We have seen many players chasing the green jacket crash and burn here: Tony Finau, Brooks Koepka, and Francesco Molinari in 2019 – the same year Tiger Woods would win his fifth Masters.

But even Tiger has been on the receiving end of Golden Bell’s ugly side. Following up his fifth win, he carded a 10 on 12 in 2020.

So if the GOAT can run up a high score, how might an average golfer fare against the 12th?

While Shot Scope has a database of more than 350 million shots, not many of those were measured at Augusta National. To be fair, being less than tech-friendly is part of Augusta’s charm. So, instead, we’ve pulled some stats to get a sense of how the average Joe would likely navigate Golden Bell.

Consider yourself warned. This isn’t pretty.

Immediately, we can see that, for what we might describe as an ordinary hole, the chances of hitting the green are small for most golfers. Scratch golfers hit 55 percent of greens from this distance, while 10-handicappers hit less than a third.

The thing is, Golden Bell is no ordinary hole. Given its unique design, just hitting the green can be nearly impossible for some.

Golden Bell’s green is a maximum 0f 26 yards deep. However, the angle of the green means that the deepest area actually plays closer to 14 yards, just 42 feet.

With just a 14-yard window, 12 at Augusta National is small, even for the elite of the game.

Data from Shot Scope suggests a scratch golfer would have a reasonable chance of landing safely in this area but, when we dig into the whole of the dataset, the evidence suggests the same cannot be said for most others.

The 5-handicap benchmark has an average proximity of 63 feet for shots of similar distance. That’s 1.5 times the distance to the deepest part of this green.

Further, a combination of the green’s design and the typical right-handed golfer’s dispersion pattern means any shot that isn’t well-struck is likely to end up in Rae’s Creek.

What is the typical right-handed golfer’s dispersion pattern? 

When we look more closely at dispersion patterns, we can clearly see that a pulled shot tends to go long and left, while shorter shots (that often happen when we don’t quite get through the ball) tend to fall short and right.

While neither option works particularly well on Golden Bell, the latter is a huge mistake.

With the green tilted at roughly a 45-degree angle from the tee box, the frontmost portion requires a 140-yard carry. The right portion will take an additional 20 yards or so to cover.

Given what we know about dispersion patterns, we can conclude that shots that leak to the right will almost certainly end up in Rae’s Creek while anything pulled long and left may well be lost in the picturesque floral backdrop.

For high-handicap golfers, the challenge is even more daunting.

A 25-handicap golfer is nearly twice as likely to miss the green right and with these shots producing shorter carry distances, well . . . to put some numbers (unpleasant as they may be) on it, Shot Scope data suggests a bit more than six out of 10 attempts will finish short.

Many of those would end up wet.

What About Lefties?

A side note in all of this: With a left-handed golfer’s dispersion pattern being an inverted version of what we see from right-handers, you can understand why it is often said that lefties are better suited to Golden Bell.

Lefties have a bit higher margin for error on No. 12 while, for the right-handed player, the leaky right shot will result in either a reload from the tee box (it’s not any easier the second time around) or a dropped ball short of the creek (also not an easy shot).

Again digging into the Shot Scope database, this time to look at up-and-down attempts, we can see that if average golfers play a dropped ball over Rae’s Creek, additional strokes are likely to be lost. 

It’s easy to see how the average Joe could very quickly run up a high score! 

Finally, the average shots-to-finish data shown above is for those ordinary holes we mentioned at the start. Depending on the quality (or lack thereof) of the first shot, we could easily be doubling these numbers on No. 12.

If Jordan Spieth can card an 8, you can bet average Joe can, too.

Will Golden Bell derail more competitors this year? Bet on it. Will we enjoy seeing the game’s greatest players try to conquer it? Almost certainly.

Golden Bell . . . a hole like no other.

Shot Scope is the Official On-Course Data Partner of MyGolfSpy.

For performance insight like these tailored to your game, check out Shot Scope performance tracking products here.

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