Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament Fred Ridley speaks to members of the media during Practice Round 3 for the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club, Wednesday, April 10, 2019. (Source: Augusta National Golf Club)
AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- “Constant improvement” was the phrase du jour at Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Fred Ridley’s news conference on Wednesday ahead of the Masters.
At the annual news conference, Ridley discussed some of the biggest changes to one of golf’s most treasured and revered courses.
Ridley singled out the renovation of Hole No. 5 in particular. The fifth tee was moved back and shifted away from Hole No. 4 and extended 40 yards.
“While this hole now measures 40 yards longer, we believe this change maintains the original design philosophy of Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie, and not only continues our commitment to keep the course in step with the changing state of the game, but we believe it will have a positive impact on pace of play,” Ridley said.
But Ridley believes the patron experience will be most improved as a result of the changes. Still, further change to other areas of the course could be coming, specifically Hole No. 13. Ridley said that hole does not play as intended by the course’s designers.
“Although we now have options to increase the length of this hole, we intend to wait to see how distance may be addressed by the governing bodies before we take any action,” Ridley said.
But while course changes are coming, it’s changes to the outside of the course that should raise some eyebrows for Augusta residents.
Ridley announce that the National is partnering with the City of Augusta and Georgia to begin a “multi-year development” on Washington Road that would lead to the construction of a tunnel connecting Gate 1 to new development on the north side of the road.
“Thanks to modern engineering, we will be able to excavate under Washington Road without any impact to the flow of traffic above,” Ridley said.
But what about a possible exit straight to the National on Interstate 20? No word yet outside of discussions, Ridley said.
“As far as the dedicated exit, don't know a lot about that,” Ridley said. “I know it's in discussion, and certainly would be a great benefit for the Tournament, but I'm sure it's something that will continue to be discussed.”
The Masters tournament begins Thursday at 8 a.m.