The 18 Best Shots In Masters History

The 18 Best Shots In Masters History

The Masters has spoiled golf fans for nearly 90 years. One of the world’s finest golf courses, on display annually for audiences to soak in the brilliance of Alister MacKenzie and Bobby Jones. Even more relevant, professional golfers have shown us how brilliantly they handle these holes, weighing risk and reward as they contest in what historically has been the most dramatic tournament in golf. 

The best golfers making the best shots at one of the world’s best courses. 

But who made the very best shots? Come with Fury Golf as we take an 18-hole tour of Augusta National, highlighting what we believe to be the single best, or most relevant, shot made at every hole during Masters play. 

There will be controversy. There will be tension. And there will be glory. Just another day at Augusta National. 

Best Shots in Masters History at Each of Augusta National's 18 Holes

No. 1, Tea Olive 

Roberto De Vincenzo, 1968 

The opening hole at Augusta National has enough challenge in its design alone to wreck the scorecards of professional golfers. Couple that with the pressure of being announced at the first tee during The Masters tournament at one of the world’s most celebrated courses. 

Argentinian Roberto De Vincenzo apparently felt no such pressure as he stepped to the tee on Sunday during the 1968 Masters. The reigning Open Champion entered the round two shots behind leader Gary Player, and one shot behind a large group of golfers nipping at Player’s heels. 

He would leave the first hole tied for the lead. Player had managed par, and Bruce Devlin gained a stroke by birdieing the opener, but De Vincenzo took a nine-iron from the fairway and rolled it in, scoring one of the rare eagles in the history of the hole.

He carried the momentum with a birdie on the next two holes, seizing a lead that he wouldn’t relinquish until No. 15, when Bob Goalby made a charge. The two would enter the clubhouse with the same score. Or so it seemed. 

De Vincenzo fell victim to Shakespearean-level tragedy, failing to notice three separate scorecard errors from playing partner Tommy Aaron before he signed and submitted the card. Only one mattered: Aaron had marked De Vincenzo for a par on No. 17 when he had in fact birdied it. The Argentine forgave his partner but not himself, famously lamenting “what a stupid I am.” 

Robert De Vincezo in happier times during the final round of the 1968 Masters. (CBS) 

No. 2, Pink Dogwood 

We’re going to make you wait for this one. 

The Masters has hosted so many memorable shots, and so many of them have occurred on the back nine as part of a winning run. It’s easy to forget that the second hole is responsible for two of the best, and certainly biggest, shots in Masters history. 

For example, the single longest made shot in Masters history occurred at Pink Dogwood during 2012. 

Louis Oosthuizen had hovered in the top five of that year’s tournament for the first three rounds, when suddenly he lunged to a multi-shot lead. Albatrosses, or double eagles, have a tendency to do that. There have only been four such scores in Masters history, and the South African’s second shot was the only to occur at Pink Dogwood. 

Oosthuizen took a 4-iron from 253 yards, striking the front of the green and watching it roll suspensefully until it fell in the hole (the time from arrival at the green to the ball finally plunking down was 16 seconds). What could possibly rival that as the best shot in the history of Pink Dogwood? 

Well, as it turns out, the longest putt in Masters history also occurred at No. 2. 

Nick Faldo had gotten off to a rough start on Saturday during the 1989 Masters, a double-bogey at No. 1 knocking him out of a share for the lead. Things did not seem to be going much better at No. 2, where — although technically on in regulation — the Brit faced a 100-foot putt for birdie. The notorious greens at Augusta National made another double more likely than a birdie putt. Needless to say, Faldo knocked it home and moved on. 

The difference between this putt and Ooshuizen’s albatross? Faldo won his first Masters, and his title proved that every putt mattered. Faldo ended the day plus-three, but stormed from five back on Sunday to make a playoff that he won when Ed Hoch could not take the victory with a four-foot putt. 

Every putt matters, and an100-foot putt matters even more. Sorry Louis. 

No. 3, Flowering Peach

Charles Schwartzel, 2011

The history of The Masters is filled with come-from-behind leaders, who began the day a long shot and then, hole-by-hole, somehow clawed themselves past the best in the world to seize the green jacket. More often than not, these key runs peak in the final few holes. This is true for Charles Schwartzel, who birdied the final four holes to win the 2011 Masters by two. 

In fact, his birdie at No. 15 was his first scoring shot since the third hole. But the shot on the third can’t be ignored when considering his two-stroke victory at the end of the day. 

Schwartzel was feeling good about his wedges when he considered his approach at Flowering Peach; he had already chipped in for birdie on the opening hole. No. 3 at Augusta National is the shortest par four at Augusta, and accordingly allows more eagles than most. But the green remains among the trickiest, and was coupled with a difficult approach. Schwartzel could see the flag, but his view of the actual putting surface was obstructed by the uphill lie. All he could do was trust his distance (114 yards) and let it fly. 

The ball dropped long and right of the flag, spinning back and down to the left, and eventually into the hole. Highlight reel fodder at the time, but worth so much more when the day’s rounds had completed.

This is what an unexpected eagle looks like three holes into a surprise Masters victory. (CBS) 


No. 4, Flowering Crab Apple 

Jeff Sluman, 1992

Jeff Sluman had not, traditionally, had much fun at Flowering Crab Apple, which may quietly be the toughest short hole at Augusta (even if Golden Bell steals the spotlight). During the 1989 Masters, the previous year’s PGA Championship winner placed his tee shot within 15 feet of the flag and then four-putted for a double bogey. 

The solution, clearly, was simply put the ball in the hole without putting. 

Sluman’s shot hit the green and then slowed as it crossed the ridge at the front, slowing to the perfect speed before dropping in the hole.

"This was one of those shots that looks good as soon as it leaves the club, but you never dream it's going to go in,” he said at the time. “I didn't think it was going in because I didn't hear the crowd urging it in."

It was Sluman’s first ace in professional competition, and he gave the ball to his mother before reaching the No. 5 tee. The positive energy continued, and Sluman finished the opening round tied for the lead. It’s a lead that didn’t last, as Sluman finished in fourth but, in the grand scheme of things, many men have won The Masters. 

Only one has ever aced No. 4 during the tournament. 

No. 5, Magnolia 

Jack Nicklaus, 1995

As with many of these holes, the choice of “best shot” at No. 5 Magnolia was a tough one, between two incredible shots: Jack Nicklaus during the 1995 Masters, and Jack Nicklaus during the 1995 Masters. 

That’s not a typo. There have been a total of nine eagles recorded at Magnolia during the tournament’s history and two of them were accomplished by Nicklaus. More improbable, both of them occurred during the same weekend. 

The first of these — made on Thursday — was technically more impressive, from a strictly shotmaking perspective, as it measured 180 yards and required a 5-iron in Nicklaus’s hand. Still, we’re going to give the “best shot” title to the second eagle, which occured on Saturday. True, it “only” called for a 163-yard shot, but consider its relevance…seven golfers besides Nicklaus have made an eagle at Magnolia. If he really wanted to stand out, he would need to make a second during the same tournament. 

The 1995 Masters wouldn’t even be Nicklaus’s best during that decade, but it was yet another reminder that you could never rule the Golden Bear out while at Augusta. 

No. 6, Juniper 

Billy Joe Patton, 1954

Juniper has seen more aces in its time than Magnolia, but the story behind Billy Joe Patton’s rises above the rest for its place in what could have been one of the great American golf stories. Francis Ouimet secured his place in history by earning a playoff spot against Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. Patton almost did the same against an even more iconic pair, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead, during the 1954 Masters. 

Patton, a lumber salesman, took a different approach than Ouimet to get there. In fact, the 37-year-old led for the first two days of the tournament, but fell back to Earth during the third round, ending up five spots out of first place. 

And that’s what makes this ace so special. It wasn’t a flash-in-the-pan on the opening day, leading to an inevitable drop down the leaderboard across the weekend. The amateur lost the momentum and then found it again. 

Patton was -1 on the day when he took his 5-iron and put the ball in the hole from 190 yards. He would follow with another pair of birdies before finding himself tied for the lead, a lead that Hogan acknowledged watching nervously on the scoreboards. Eventually, however, Amen Corner would stall Patton’s momentum and he would miss the playoff by one spot. 

Nonetheless, his third-place finish remains one of the best ever by an amateur during The Masters. 

Billy Patton (left), lumber salesman, and three legends he almost swept at the 1956 Masters: Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, and Bobby Jones. (The Masters Archive) 


No. 7, Pampas

Byron Nelson, 1937

Few holes at Augusta National  have received as little recognition as No. 7, Pampas. And few holes have changed as dramatically across the history of the golf club. One contributing factor to the first mutation was the arrival of Byron Nelson, whose swing was the envy of the day’s golfers. 

Bobby Jones had intended for No. 7 to emulate No. 18 at St. Andrews — not so long as to punish with distance, but with a green that called for a strategic approach, lest a player underthink it because of the short yardage. Nelson decided that his drive would also be his approach, sending the ball nearly 340 yards and reaching the putting surface in one. 

He didn’t manage to eagle, but the two-putt was still a relative rarity for the hole, which featured severe contours across its green. Too severe for Jones’s liking, in fact. That Nelson managed to drive the green added to Jones’s to-do list. By 1939, the hole had been extended to 365 yards and the front of the green guarded by bunkers.The hole has only gotten longer (450 yards) and the fairway tighter. 

Although it produces enough eagles (15 in its history), one needs to wonder if Nelson had a point: Could a drivable par four bring an element of excitement to Sunday at The Masters? (No. 3 is reachable, but unrealistic to hold with a driver). We’re going to choose Nelson’s groundbreaking drive as the best shot here as a reminder to Augusta National of Jones’s love of St. Andrews — and its four drivable par fours. 

Maybe that would boost Pampas’s popularity as well. 

No. 8, Yellow Jasmine

Horton Smith, 1934

We’ll open this one with an apology: Once again, a rare albatross at Augusta goes without being named the best shot in the hole’s history. Bruce Devlin deserves all the credit in the world for taking three shots off his card with one 248-yard shot, but we’re taking a more meaningful putt over an otherwise remarkable blast. 

The putt in question was a 20-footer sunk by Horton Smith on No. 8, Yellow Jasmine during 1934. It was the first invitational held at Augusta National, fulfilling the vision that founder Bobby Jones had when visualizing the club, and this putt was the deciding birdie that would mark Horton Smith as its winner (it’s important to note that the 1934 tournament was the only year to be played with the nines reversed from routing we currently know). 

Smith had led the tournament wire-to-wire, yet that lead never rose above one stroke. Craig Wood managed to match the leader on the final day of competition, and remained there for several holes before Smith made his birdie putt on what was then No. 17. 

Are we being a touch sentimental with the choice? Undoubtedly. But is there value to the shot, beyond sentiment? Absolutely. 

Understand that Smith had not won The Masters, but the Augusta National Invitation Tournament. It was understood as a worthwhile gig, if not the grand monument to golf that we understand “The Masters” to be now. What if Smith had won the first Masters by seven shots? What if the same Craig Wood hadn’t taken Gene Sarazen to a playoff the next year? What if Smith hadn’t won the tournament a second time by the same one-stroke margin two years later? 

The Masters, of all tournaments, is one that tests its champions most sternly on the final day of play, with would-be winners pushing the eventual victor to the limit. That standard began during its first year, with Smith’s 20-foot putt. 

Horton Smith, winning The Masters before it was cool. Twice, in fact. (The Masters Archive) 


No. 9, Carolina Cherry

Bill Haas, 2013

We’ve reached the turning point in the tournament and also the toughest to name a winner. Unfortunately, that’s because Carolina Cherry is lacking in truly iconic shots. 

That’s not to discredit the title we’re about to award Bill Haas; after all, only five players have managed to take two shots off of their scorecard while playing at Carolina Cherry. But the cold hard truth is that so far we’ve tended to gauge a shot’s relevance to the Masters winner’s scorecard, and few shots at No. 9, including the five eagles, have directly led to a green jacket. 

But, again in Haas’s defense, we didn’t just put the five eagles in Cliff Roberts’s straw hat to pick a winner. Haas may not have a Masters to his name but, like Sluman, he can make a claim that no other participant can: He has the lowest scoring average of any golfer at Carolina Cherry during his playing career, at 3.84. 

The difference between Haas, Jason Day (3.85) and Jordan Spieth (3.88) may very well be that eagle. 

No. 10, Camellia

Ben Crenshaw, 1984

Camellia has always played with a chip on its shoulder, almost as if it feels spurned not to be included in what Herbert Warren Wind would dub “Amen Corner.” No one denies that Nos. 11 and 12 have tested the mettle of golfers for nearly a century but Camellia — No. 10 — may suggest it deserves the attention that often goes to No. 13. Although “Amen Corner” is strictly a geographical distinction, this long par four has been denied due attention. It has, statistically, played tougher across the history of the tournament than any other hole at Augusta, with a scoring average of 4.31. 

The length is intimidating, and the centerline bunker looks scary (although it rarely comes into play for Tour-level golfers). Many forget that No. 10’s green is also considered among the trickiest, if not the trickiest, at a club full of subtle, confusing greens. That’s why the best shot in the hole’s history belongs to a man known for his love of green studies, both as an architect and a player: Ben Crenshaw. 

The Texan had caught the leaders with a birdie at No. 8, and taken a one-stroke lead with a birdie at No. 9. The trifecta seemed unlikely, considering that Crenshaw faced a 60-foot, right-to-left putt. Knowing that a two-stroke lead heading into Amen Corner would be invaluable, he aimed to get it more than close. 

To quote broadcaster Bob Murphy’s call: “Slow now. What a great putt this is. That’s…one of the greatest putts I’ve ever seen. Of course, one of the greatest putters I’ve ever seen too. Ben says let me get off this green, put my putter in the bag, it’s burning my hand, it’s so hot.” 

Crenshaw took the two-stroke lead to his first Major Championship title. 


"He can stick his finger in his mouth and push his heart back down where it's supposed to be."...another great tidbit from Bob Murphy on the call. (CBS) 

No. 11, White Dogwood 

Larry Mize, 1987

Chris Dimarco once acknowledged that he was not disappointed by his second-place effort at The Masters because he hadn’t lost the tournament, so much as put forth his best effort while Tiger Woods did the same. He has a point…the list of golfers who have melted down and lost The Masters on the last day is long. No one name is more prominent than Greg Norman. However, 1987 does not factor into that list. 

Norman came from one-stroke back of the lead to reach a playoff. Seve Ballesteros from two-back. The third name who joined these Hall of Famers for the playoff? Augusta native Larry Mize. 

The Shark and Mize both managed to par Camellia, while Ballesteros faltered. The tee shot and approach shot on White Dogwood, seemed to confirm that Norman was in the better headspace, which had been his weak point in Masters prior. Mize played an overly-conservative approach shot, leaving the ball 45 yards wide of the green, which would require a downhill chip shot to the left-set flag, the infamous pond lurking behind the green. Norman knew his opponent was in a near-impossible position. So he played to the fringe, leaving a lengthy two-putt, knowing he would have a significant chance at winning with a par. 

Mize’s shot, alas, was only near impossible. He made the shot. 

“First of all, to get it anywhere near the hole is phenomenal,” Jack Nicklaus later told ESPN. “But to have it go in? It’s one of the great golf shots of all time.” 

Norman had choked before, and after, but in this case he just got steamrolled by fate. 


No. 12, Golden Bell

Curtis Strange, 1988

There are many holes at Augusta that embody The Wide World of Sports’s “the glory of victory.” One hole, Golden Bell, revels in representing “the agony of defeat.” We rarely think about tournaments won at the par three, but rather the numerous tournaments lost there. Most recently, Jordan Spieth lost four strokes (and a three-stroke lead). There are six holes to play once you’ve left this green, but safe passage here elicits more relief than the rest. 

If you want to enjoy Golden Bell on a Sunday, either be in the audience or be so far out of contention for a win that you can let it fly. That’s what Curtis Strange did, when he hit a 7-iron to the left of the flag and pushed it just enough to bring it into the hole. 

Although not as conservative as Flowering Crab Apple, No. 12 has only allowed three aces during Masters play. What sets Strange’s apart is the challenge level of his shot, compared to those of Claude Harmon and William Hyndman. 

There are two factors setting Strange’s apart (distance is not one of them, as it’s played the same distance since 1934…a testament to design over distance): First, the flag Strange took aim at, at the right of the green, is the most treacherous and the least inviting. 

Second, with no insult meant to Harmon or Hyndman, the green Strange played to was considerably more frightening than those of the ‘40s and ‘50s. Talk to any golf course architecture fanatic about Augusta, and they’ll highlight how much the course has changed over the tournament’s history. Most of the greens have shrunk, and that applies especially to Golden Bell. The target for Harmon and Hyndman was a relative acre compared to today’s finger-width green, which now also falls off at all sides. 

Strange is the only golfer to hit a hole-in-one on the modern rendition of the hole, and the ball he used to do it belongs in a museum…but perhaps the scope of his accomplishment drove him to temporary insanity, as he tossed it into Rae’s Creek as soon as he plucked it from the hole. 

No. 13, Azalea

Phil Mickelson, 2010

Phil Mickelson’s first Masters victory seems almost unreal now. Not that his play was unbelievable, but that there was a time when Lefty was “the best professional without a major.” By 2010, he had won three and no one was wondering whether he had the backbone to make it happen. Mickelson proved he was beyond confident in his ability during 2010. 

The downfall of many a Masters leader, rookie or not, is to play too conservatively, offering their competition that chance to gather momentum. Mickelson was in no such mood after an errant tee shot at No. 13. His ball had fallen behind two pine trees about 190 yards from the hole, but he had a narrow eyelet toward the green.

His caddie, Jim “Bones” McKay informed him that K.J. Choi had just dropped a shot, leaving Lefty two shots ahead. A conservative play made sense. But, to hear McKay tell it, Mickelson planned to actively win the tournament, not passively. 

“If I am going to win this tournament today, I am going to have to hit a really good shot under a lot of pressure at some point,” Mickelson allegedly said. “I am going to do it right now.” 

Gauntlet thrown down by self, and picked up by self. Mickelson narrowly avoided making contact with a tree trunk, and took the ball on a beeline toward the flag, just crossing the small stream that flows ahead of the green and settling a few feet from the pin. 

Ironically, for such a precise display moments earlier, he missed the eagle putt and settled for birdie. Still, if had settled for par, he would have been only one shot ahead of playing partner Lee Westwood. Guts bring glory, and Mickelson won his third green jacket. 


No. 14, Chinese Fir

Phil Mickelson, 2010

So Mickelson’s shot on Sunday at No. 13 was a thing to behold…one of the shots that analysts talk about for years to come. By itself, it’s absolutely worthy of admiration. But in the grand scheme of things? Lefty missed a short putt for eagle and had to settle for birdie. Obviously the Sunday shot kept momentum on his side, but does a score of -1 on hole nos. 13 and 14 for that day make that much of a difference for a guy who won the tournament by three?  

Compare that to his score for those two holes on Saturday: -4. Mickelson managed to sink his eagle putt on Saturday…but lots of guys sink eagle putts at No. 13. Make an eagle at No. 14…now we’re talking. 

That’s exactly what Lefty did on Saturday during 2010. Sitting in the fairway, about 140 yards away from the flag, one of the greatest wedge players of all time did it again, sending the ball behind and left of the pin, spinning it back into the hole.

The back-to-back eagles, which helped keep Mickelson only one back heading into Sunday, were historic even outside of the championship context. Back-to-back birds-of-prey have occurred only four times in Masters history. Mickelson is the only of those four who also won the tournament.

Was it a better shot than Lefty’s approach to No. 13 the next day? That’s an argument we’re not going to have right now. But it can certainly be argued that he might not have been feeling so bold on Sunday if he hadn’t made such a skilled shot on Saturday. 

No. 15, Chinese Firethorn

Gene Sarazen, 1935

You may have noticed a trend so far during this feature. There have been a total of four albatrosses shot during Masters play, one for each par five. We have passed over the first three of these and rewarded players for making shorter shots, albeit shots more historically relevant. Will we ever recognize the unmatched brilliance of a single, massive shot, which takes three strokes off of the scorecard? 

Yes. That shot belongs to Gene Sarazen and his Sunday approach into Chinese Firethorn…a blast that deserves its nickname as “the shot heard ‘round the world.” 

Craig Wood held the reins at the 1935 Augusta National Invite, the second tournament hosted by Bobby Woods at Augusta, checking into the clubhouse with a three-shot lead. Gene Sarazen had four holes left to play, and understood exactly where he stood. He first stepped up to his second shot at No. 15 with iron in hand. Perhaps realizing the help he needed to catch Wood, Sarazen swapped the iron with a “spoon.” 

He swung and, 235 yards later, he was tied with Wood. 

It isn’t the longest make in Masters history but, considering the technology of the time, it might deserve to be considered as much. Consider that Sarazen’s first shot was 255 yards, which was a “bomb” at the time. If we compare the length of his first and second shots as a ratio, it’s equivalent to Dustin Johnson sinking a 286-yard shot following his average drive length of 311 yards. 

And that shot was to enter a tie for the lead on Sunday at The Masters. 

Needless to say, with the sort of swagger that comes with such a shot, Sarazen won the Monday playoff by five shots. Sarazen’s shot should still be heard when discussing the greatest shots in major championship history.  

No. 16: Redbud 

Tiger Woods, 2005 

In journalism, it’s generally considered bad practice to rely on caps-lock to emphasize the emotion of a moment. But there is simply no other way to transcribe Verne Lundquist’s call of Tiger Woods’s shot at No. 16 on Sunday during the 2005 Masters. 

“OH WOW,” said a guy who has seen a lot of golf shots in his life. “In your life have you seen anything like that?”

If the score hadn’t been as close as it was (Woods only held a one stroke lead over Chris DiMarco at the time of the shot), we would almost guess Woods had set himself up, just to show off. After all, Redbud on a Sunday is one of the easiest reads at Augusta. So many players know exactly where to leave their drives on the green, expecting it to filter back down to the hole. That’s why the par three has twice as many aces as the rest of the short holes combined. So hitting a hole-in-one at Redbud, while not easy per se, is regular enough that Woods needed to somehow find an even tougher make. He did so by going long and left. 

The recovery required Woods to come off an awkward lie and stop his ball at just the right distance so that it would then continue downhill toward the flagstick. If his shot came on a little hot, it could either miss the break back toward the hole and leave Woods with an awkward downhill putt for par or, worse, the ball could come back downhill too fast and end up in the front bunker. 

Caddie Steve Williams later recounted that Woods pointed out a single ball mark on the green, 20 feet away, and decided it would be his landing point. He hit in on the fly, as promised. DiMarco had begun to trudge onto the green before seeing the ball turn, stopping in place. The ball itself stopped in place, famously, on the lip of the cup, before the collective inhale of air from the audience (and fate, no doubt) brought it the last few millimeters into the cup. The Hitchcockian suspense at the end was the perfect touch, leading to Lundquist’s eruption. 

The shot doesn’t get enough credit for just how relevant it was, beyond being a masterclass in green reading. Woods took a two-shot lead with the birdie, but then surrendered that lead on the final two holes, forcing him to regroup during a playoff. The shot at No. 16 may have saved his skin. 

But then again, with all the adrenaline running through his body after making a shot like that? The shot at No. 16 may have caused the bogies that followed! 


No. 17: Nandina

Jack Nicklaus, 1986

The Sunday logistics at the 1986 Masters Invitational required a great many things to go right or wrong for any given golfer to come away with the Green Jacket. Seve Ballasteros and Greg Norman could speak to both sides of that equation, as their heroics allowed them to be among the five golfers who saw the lead on Sunday, and their follies took the title away from them. Jack Nicklaus was another golfer who could have been defined by both effort and error. Everyone knows about the 18-foot putt for birdie on No. 17, Nicklaus’s left arm holding the putter aloft as he joyously followed his final birdie putt home. 

But what of the error? It didn’t make the national broadcast, and it certainly didn’t remain stuck in our collective memories like his putt. But if we step back just one shot, we would see what needed to occur for that birdie putt to exist. 

Nicklaus had eagled No. 15, birdied No. 16, and was surely feeling the positive energy as he took the tee at Nandina. He was suddenly tied for the lead, a fact that would have been shocking both at the start of the day (when he was four shots back) or at the start of the year (when many had written Nicklaus off as past his prime). 

His tee shot threatened to derail the narrative. Nicklaus pulled it terribly, sending the ball toward the trees down the left side of the hole. Something, whether a patron or a lucky bounce, took the hit and kept the ball from reaching the growth, leaving Nicklaus with 125 yards from an awkward lie. Perhaps not the world’s toughest shot, but the Bear is forced to right the ship after having every shot fall at his will for several holes. 

He did not let the error define his day. Rather, he placed it in an opportune position to sink a birdie at best, or settle for a par to stay tied. As we know, he sank the birdie.

That putt was one of the most iconic images in the tournament’s history. But it took a heck of an approach to make it possible. 

No. 18: Holly

Sandy Lyle, 1988

“Sandy Lyle would like to have it there, and not in that bunker.” 

Such were the words of Brent Musburger after Lyle’s playing partner Ben Crenshaw sent one way left, beyond the notorious fairway hazards at No. 18 Holly. The Scottish professional was then tied for first place at -6, and he’d need a heck of a save to tie for the playoff, much less dream of winning with a birdie, after sending his drive into the nearer of the two traps. 

Beyond being in the bunker, Lyle had rolled to the front, requiring him to get over the front lip if he had any chance at finding the green, or opt to lay up to the right. He made clean contact, and sprinted out of the hazard to see where he’d end up. 

“Oh. What? Watch this. Watch this. Watch this,” Musberger said, understanding that the suspense of where Lyle placed his shot, at the top of the second tier, would rival even Tiger’s future hole-out for suspense. Eventually, after the third command, the ball began to move backward. “Here it goes. There it goes!” 

“Another two feet and it would have stayed.” 

The ball settled some 10 feet away from the hole and, having made the most incredible shot of the tournament, Lyle had no trouble sinking the putt to claim his second major championship. 

It was the first Masters win for a citizen of the United Kingdom, which makes his shot all the more memorable to fellow Brits. Commentator Peter Alliss could be guaranteed to refer to the shot at least once per tournament moving forward. 

Given the context for the shot, many — in the United Kingdom and otherwise — consider Lyle’s blast the best fairway bunker shot in golf history. 

Ask yourself if you could put this within eight feet. With a Green Jacket on the line, no less (CBS). 


And there you have it. Eighteen incredible shots for the 18 incredible holes at Augusta National during the Masters Invitational. We’ve been fortunate to see some of these masterpieces in real time and, with any luck, we may see the next great shot in Masters history during 2022.

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