The swirling winds at Augusta National’s 12th hole have been giving golfers fits for more than eight decades. So much so that a pair of John Hopkins professors created a computer model in 2016 that tried to predict the effects of the ever-present gusts from the gods. True story.
Throughout the years, Phil Mickelson has handled the 155-yard hole about as well as anyone. Sure, there was that unfortunate double bogey in the final round of 2009 after he shot a record-low 30 on the front nine, but a birdie on Sunday there in 2004 sparked a five under finish over the final seven holes to give him a one-shot win over Ernie Els and a first major title. Mickelson also birdied the hole in the final round in 2010 to stretch his lead to two over Lee Westwood before going on to win his third and final green jacket.
Many, including Mickelson would argue he has an advantage on the short par-3 thanks to being left-handed, but the five-time major champ also may have found the best strategy for the shot. A strategy shared by his former caddie, Jim “Bones” Mackay, during an NBC/Golf Channel conference call with reporters on Thursday.
“We had this thing, when I was caddying there called ‘wait on your wind,’ which basically everybody knows if you stand there
long enough you’re going to feel the wind blow pretty much every single direction as possible. And it can certainly get in your head a little bit,” Mackay said. “So what we would do is just pick a club for a certain wind and wait for that wind to show up. You had a pretty good idea what that wind would be. We never looked at 11 green. We were more looking over into 13 fairway as to what — the trees and what not were doing over there, if there were any leaves blowing around, things along those lines.”
(By the way, the computer model backed up that looking at the flag on No. 11 was pointless.)
“But my theory always was pick a club for a wind there and you may have to wait five seconds for that wind and you may have to wait a minute for it. But that always seemed to work fairly well in that regard.”
Not exactly great for pace of play, but if there’s any shot in golf that deserves extra time (See: Spieth, Jordan in 2016 along with many others), it’s this one.