[PHOTO: Andrew Redington]

Officially, there is only one notable change to Augusta National for this year’s Masters, with the tee at the par-5 second hole extended back and to the left by 10 yards. Unofficially, however, patrons and players will notice a handful of other modifications.

Augusta National is a club in constant evolution, both in the concrete and abstract. But much of that evolution goes unstated, allowing for beautiful discoveries to the public when the club opens its gates once every year. For those attending the Masters this week, the most striking difference is a new stone structure between the eighth and 18 holes, a building that has concessions, restaurants and a small merchandise area. There were temporary concessions, merchandise and telephone stations in this area in the past, although they were removed after tournament week. A previous permanent restroom area was knocked down and upgraded.

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As for the course, there are three modifications that were apparent during Saturday’s Augusta National Women’s Amateur, all on the first nine. The back part of the second green has been enlarged towards the middle, while the slope off the right greenside bunker has been somewhat levelled. The former allows for another pin option, while the latter negates the use of the front right portion of the green serving as a backstop for putts coming from the other side of the green towards the traditional final-round pin.

The fourth green’s front right slope has also been softened, and though this likewise negates any backboard of sorts from putts above the hole, it also allows proper approach shots, and bunker shots, to not ricochet away from the pin.

Perhaps the most noticeable change when it comes to tournament play will be the sixth hole. One of the more difficult holes on the course come Sunday (ranking fifth in final-round scoring average during last year’s Masters), the back right plateau has been enlarged and the back left section has been flattened. During Saturday’s ANWA competition, balls that would have usually funnelled off the green were able to say within 25-30 feet of the back-right pin, and the hope is more solid approaches to a back-left pin will be rewarded. Conversely, slopes off the back-right plateau have been enhanced, making the penalty for a miss more severe.

Clearly these are not as dramatic as the changes evidenced by the lengthening of the famous par-5 13th hole last year. But they are changes nevertheless, proving that while this a club that honours the past it likewise genuflects to perpetual progression.