Date: April 03, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

Play Augusta in Australia

Tickets into Augusta National are next to impossible to obtain – and that's just to watch, let alone play the course.

So, if you want to experience one of the world’s great courses, your best hope is to shell out for a high definition TV and stock up on coffee. But even then you’ll only get to see the back nine holes.

But there is another option — play our "Aussie Augusta" course. Sure, the layout is spread over five states, but if you have enough frequent flyer points up your sleeve, it's as close to the real thing as you might get.

Augusta National is so unique there is no one club in the world – much less Australia – that has all of its majesty, bewitching layout and, most importantly, elevation changes.

When pressed, revered course designer Mike Clayton said Royal Melbourne (West) came as close tactically as any other – which was not surprising given both courses were designed by the legendary Alister MacKenzie.

"Royal has wide fairways, rewarding players who drive to the right part of the fairway or who shape the ball well in order to get the extra run down the slopes," Clayton said.

"It has fierce greens – fast and well protected by bunkers and short grass that feeds the ball away from the hole."

Elsewhere, there are spectacular images of Queensland's undulating Brookwater Golf Club – most notably its 9th hole – that evoke Augusta.

Others say Royal Canberra's lush, tree-lined fairways have a resemblance, while there are holes at Sydney's Pennant Hills and the mighty New South Wales – another MacKenzie project – that ring bells.

Then there is Bonville Golf Resort near Coffs Harbour, built with Augusta as a template.

Carved from trees with the express instructions of its original owner to replicate within reason the Masters host, it offers a spectacular insight into the world's top-ranked course.

Not only is Bonville visually alike on many fairways, some of the holes are also tactical replicas – most notably the 17th hole that is effectively a mirror image of the famous 12th hole in the middle of Amen Corner.

But Bonville on its own doesn't do the job – for that you have to take in several other courses.

So strap in, and let’s fly around Augusta in Australia …


Augusta: 1st, Par 4, 405m

A wicked opening test with a drive over a long valley. Players who don't get to the top of the hill have a far tougher approach to a green with distinct sections. There's a fairway bunker right, and a greenside bunker left and the green is best approached from as close to the fairway trap as you dare.

Australia: 3rd, Victoria Golf Club, VIC

It doesn't have the hill from the tee, but tactically it is a very similar hole. Victoria has sand at the back right of the green compared with a slight drop-off at Augusta. Both greens will penalise heavily balls that come up short. MacKenzie originally planned less than 30 bunkers at Augusta National, so it's much different from the proliferation of sand around Melbourne's famous Sandbelt courses.

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Augusta: 2nd, Par 5, 524m

A challenging drive to a blind landing area over a hill. From there, the hole turns and slopes down and to the left. Most players are content to lay up their second shots, taking the need to challenge the fairway bunker out of play. A bold tee shot needs to skirt left of the right fairway trap, even with a hint of right to left. A shallow green that can only be attacked from the opposite side to which the pin is cut.

Australia: 7th, Lake Karrinyup Country Club, WA

A long par five that, for the right-hander, requires a draw off the tee and, ideally, a faded second shot to a left-to-right angled green. Visually a similar drive, but the fairway angle on the second shots at Karrinyup is flatter than Augusta. The green approach on the WA layout is also less daunting for those considering getting home in two.


Augusta: 3rd, Par 4, 319m

With a slight turn right and uphill second shot, it's all but impossible to drive despite its length, creating choices on the tee. When the pin is cut right, on a severely sloping green, some players are prepared to take iron off the tee to take the fairway traps out of play. But with precision needed to a left pin that only has 11m of green from front to back, a blasted driver to create a short pitch is often preferred.

Australia: 3rd, Woodlands Golf Club, VIC

The fairway bunker cluster is on the right side, but the premise is the same in terms of the available driving options. A longer blast will leave a shorter and easier approach to a green that slopes from back to front and requires precision across the ridges to avoid a harrowing putt. Both holes require treacherous downhill chips for any balls that run through the green.


Augusta: 4th, Par 3, 221m

From the back tees, this is as demanding a downhill tee shot as any in championship golf. The older tee blocks, well advanced, make this far more manageable. A pin the in the back left is accessible, but anywhere else on this back-to-front sloping green is harrowing at best. On the day the pin is front left, well-hit balls will roll back off the front of the green.

Australia: 11th, Yarra Yarra Golf Club, VIC

There is only a slight elevation change uphill – as opposed to Augusta – but the hole's strategy is remarkably similar. A severe slope from back right to front left means any downhill putts are treacherous and the attacking side of the green – the right – is guarded by tough, deep bunkers. Most will play safely to the left centre, being sure to have enough club to avoid running back off the front edge.


Augusta: 5th, Par 4, 414m

A sleeping giant that demands two well-played shots to have any semblance of a birdie hope. The driver is often left in the bag on this in favour of position on a tough dog-leg left, the point of which is guarded by two deep fairway traps. But while the sand ends there, the challenges are only just beginning with a fearsome set of mounds in the front left of the green its primary defence. Adding to the difficulty is the drop-off over the back of the green, meaning an accurate approach is needed – quite often the running shot that its designers originally intended.

Australia: 17th: Huntingdale Golf Club, VIC

This hole bends in the opposite direction, but has two great things in common with its Augusta counterpart. Firstly, position rather than length off the tee to the corner is critical; then the mounds protecting the front of the green are vital to scoring. One could make a case that the mounds in front of Royal Melbourne's third hole on the west course are more akin to Augusta, but the short second pitch on that hole alters the strategy required and often removes the bumps from play, particularly when the pin is deep in the green.

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Augusta: 6th, Par 3, 165m

One of the rare holes at Augusta that hasn't experienced any structural change for three decades now. The hole is played from an elevated tee and a green has three distinct levels as its primary defence with a tiny tier back right a solid test. If your ball finishes above the hole here, three putts are definitely in the frame. Conversely, if the pin's front left, balls can easily feed down to bring birdies into the mix.

Australia: 4th, Barwon Heads Golf Club, VIC

From the elevated championship tee, it's the same length and across a similar valley. The green has steep run-offs at the front and sides and, while the green is in two tiers rather than three, placing it in the right quadrant is critical.


Augusta: 7th, Par 4, 411m

Gun-barrel straight hole that is lined by trees on both sides of the fairway. The trick here is an approach to a wickedly sloping, elevated green ringed by five bunkers. Many players bail out and dump their approach in the front traps from where par is still possible. However, those missing long into the back sand face a nearly impossible chip back down hill from where par will be relished.

Australia: 18th, Spring Valley Golf Club, VIC

The tee shot is perhaps more reminiscent of the 15th at New South Wales or the 14th at Woodlands, with more trouble left and right. But the second shot, while generally longer at Augusta, is not dissimilar to Spring Valley's closing hole. Taking an extra club is often wise playing uphill and any shot that is errant can be heavily punished by one of the many bunkers. Depth of approach is the key to scoring.


Augusta: 8th, Par 5, 521m

A perfectly placed bunker on the apex of a very slight twist right on this fairway sets the tone here. If players are bold enough to flirt with the sand on this uphill monster, then getting home in two is a possibility – but only really for those who can turn the ball slightly right to left. The green is tucked away from the players' vision for their second shot and the long, narrow green can play up to four clubs' difference from front to back. Mounds on either side also help defend a green with no sand.

Australia: 8th, Araluen Golf Resort, WA

Tough to find an uphill hole that bends in both directions, but this one ideally requires a power fade off the tee for a right-hander and a tiny draw with the second for those bold enough to go for home. The front left of this green is guarded by a swale which makes this side of the green even tighter. The bunkering right of the tee is also a challenge for those with an aggressive instinct.


Augusta: 9th, Par 4, 421m

A wickedly sloping green from back to front is what most golf fans know of this hole, but there's another equally important challenge at its other end. A drive too far left will leave players requiring a low draw to conquer the trees on the left corner about 150m from home. A drive too far right will run downhill and risks going into pine straw from which distance control for the approach will be tough. Long drivers have a distinct advantage on a hole that rewards accuracy with approach shots.

Australia: 11th, Royal Melbourne Golf Club (West Course), VIC

The same downhill tee shot, uphill second shot combination – but without the elevation change on the approach. The tee shot here is equally critical. This and its Augusta equivalent are wide, but defensively minded drives can leave testing long approaches. Another green that has strong slopes from the right and to which shorter irons are punished less frequently.

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Augusta: 10th, Par 4, 453m

One of the course's toughest tests and a hole almost impossible to replicate based purely on its elevation change. The tee, in American terms, is the height of the Statue of Liberty above the green. Throw in the fact a right-hander needs to hit a relatively hard hook to keep the ball on the curving fairway and you know this is no ordinary hole. Always plays among the hardest holes, not least because of the sand that protects the putting surface on the right and the severe slopes front and left.

Australia: 2nd, Lake Karrinyup Country Club, WA

A blind drive with the landing area over a large crest makes this a challenge straight off the bat. Neither the drop or swing left is as severe, but the cross-bunkers well in advance of the green and a large, sloping putting surface make it play the same tactically.


Augusta: 11th, Par 4, 460m

Since the hole was lengthened, a tough task was made even more arduous. Only the best drives will then necessitate something other than a long iron or even a fairway wood for the second shot, even for the pros. Then, water protecting the front left of the green makes taking on pins anywhere left of centre all but impossible. The bail-out position is front and right of a massive green, but with all balls rolling towards the water, there is no safe pitch shot anywhere.

Australia: 9th, Joondalup Resort, Lake Course, WA

This hole is a par five. That's just how hard the 11th at Augusta is. Only the sweetest striking club golfer would have any chance of making this green in two – even off the Tiger tees it's only 20m longer than its counterpart. A demanding drive with similarly placed trees left means a controlled draw is the best approach to run the ball far enough to get home in two. From there, to get to any pin cut left demands flirting with a lake left of the green that has become a graveyard for many good scores. The bail-out spot right is guarded by bunkers, from where a par is a very good result.


Augusta 12th, Par 3, 141m

Arguably the most famous par three in world golf and Augusta's shortest. Iconic Rae's Creek guards the front of a shallow green that has two bunkers immediately behind its central portion. The secret to the tee shot is to judge the wind that blows through Amen Corner; it can be sufficiently tricky that playing safe is the only option, especially to a pin on the right, the customary final-day position.

Australia: 17th, Bonville Golf Resort, NSW

Specifically designed with Augusta National in mind. The water carry is a little larger than Rae's Creek, but it's otherwise very similar. Particularly late in an afternoon round, the wind here is similarly crucial to club selection and the ultimate result.


Augusta: 13th, Par 5, 466m

One of the classic risk-reward par fives with eagles on offer for those brave enough to challenge successfully. The key to your best shot at eagle is to attack the green from as far left as possible, requiring a tee shot that is shaped to the left around the corner. Most in the field can still hit the green in two after a three-wood tee shot, but the massive putting surface has severe undulations meaning three putts are always an option for wayward approaches.

Australia: 14th, The Lakes Golf Club, NSW

Bruce Devlin originally modelled this on Augusta's 13th, creating big rewards for those long and brave enough off the tee. It's a much bigger water carry than Georgia, especially with a new tournament tee, but the principle remains the same. If players can carry the fairway trap up the left, they have a mid-to-long iron approach. But the challenge doesn't end there with the green split into some wildly undulating sections from back to front and heavy bunkers, although they're right, as opposed to the left at Augusta. A short or errant tee shot will necessitate a different plan of attack with a lofted iron flipped across the water from almost pin high for the third shot.


Augusta: 14th, Par 4, 401m

One of the toughest holes on the back nine – yet the only hole at Augusta National without a bunker. Accuracy is just as important as length off the tee, with a fairway that slopes to the right, but the real drama starts with the approach. This could be one of the wildest greens in championship golf, so severely does it slope to the right. Any pin on the left is almost inaccessible and it's often more prudent to leave a long putt than try to hit one close.

Australia: 17th, Kingston Heath Golf Club, VIC

Let's overlook the bunkering on the left off the tee, the holes have a similar elevation change from tee to green, turn slightly to the left and, more importantly, rely on contours and design as their defences. There are precious few greens like Augusta's 14th and while this green is nowhere near as severely sloped, it, too, has no bunker and it's the approach shot that will determine your score. If you judge the distance and length correctly, the bumps and hollows will work in your favour – get it wrong and you can pay a nasty price.

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Augusta: 15th, Par 5, 483m

A hole that, on TV at least, looks relatively straightforward. But, like most holes at Augusta National, the trick is in the sloping surfaces. A tree midway down the left edge of the fairway throws up potential challenges, but another shallow green makes all decisions crucial. When the pin's left, little more than 5m scope on which to land approach shots makes long irons a true test. And even shorter irons are tough off severe downhill lies.

Australia: 18th, Bonville Golf Resort, NSW

In terms of how it plays, this is a virtual replica. A tee shot down the left needs to avoid a bunker at the point at which the fairway turns. It's far from the longest par five going around, but the difficulty lies in the long second shot if players elect to go for broke. The water crossing guarding the front of the green is set further back than Augusta, and the clubhouse, rather than water, is behind the putting surface – but other than that, it's game on.


Augusta: 16th, Par 3, 155m

A legendary hole that can be relatively simple, or impossibly tough based on pin placement alone. Long water carry to a green that slopes severely from the right. Pins in the back left – a final-day Masters regular – can be relatively accessible via this slope, but those in the centre right require a perfectly crafted (right-handed) fade or exacting distance control.

Australia: 11th, The Coolum Golf Resort, QLD

One of two water-inspired signature holes on the one-time host course of the Australian PGA Championship. Protected by a long water carry, the green, rather than relying on one long ledge, has ridges that divide it into distinct quadrants with equally distinct pin placements available. A tee shot left or right, or even to the wrong part of the green, will make par more than acceptable.


Augusta: 17th, Par 4, 400m

The famous Eisenhower Tree once highlighted the left side of the fairway, but its use an obstacle before it came down had long since finished. Not unlike the seventh, trees on either side can have a big impact on wayward drives, but the trick here is judging approach yardages from an uphill stance to a green guarded by front bunkers left and right. It's another green with distinct zones on which to place pins and you'll often see balls played behind the cup and spun back towards the hole, especially with short-iron approaches.

Australia: 8th, Kooyonga Golf Club, SA

Like Augusta, a drive off the back tees brings the trees on the left into most players' vision. The further the drive can be kept left on the fairway, the easier the approach shot in to a green that is raised, relatively small on the course and bunkered front left and right. Key shot is the second, with anything wayward requiring a very tough save to make par.

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Augusta: 18th, Par 4, 422m

The closing hole that requires two precise shots to avoid potential disaster, firstly from a deep chute of trees and then to a green that is effectively cut in half by a substantial ridge. Throw in hungry fairway traps at the turning point of the dog-leg right and an enormous climb towards the clubhouse and it's a beast to finish off an imposing test. Birdies are possible, but only if the ball is on the same level as the pin. Three putts are far more likely for those on the wrong tier.

Australia: 18th, Vintage Golf Club, NSW

There are precious few comparisons to Augusta's home hole in Australia, largely based on its uphill nature. But Vintage comes as close as possible. From the back tees, there is a distinct chute feel to the drive and the two tiers on the green are also similar. An accurate drive is paramount to attack a green heavily guarded by sand on the left, meaning the more of the dog-leg right you can negotiate successfully, the better line of attack you'll have, especially to a pin cut left.

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