Which single hole was the most representative of a player’s performance in the first round of the Masters? It turns out it was the 13th. Dustin Johnson was the only player to eagle it an he finished one shot off the lead. The 38 golfers that birdied it finished with an average score of 71.7. The 40 players that parred it finished with an average score of 73.0. Not much difference there considering there was a one-stroke advantage built into the birdie group. But the 12 players that bogeyed it finished with an average of 77.0. Basically, if you played the hole poorly, you probably were not good by professional golf’s standards. The R2 for a player’s score on 13 and their final score was 0.53.
On the flip side, however, the other par 5 on the back nine, number 15, was the worst test of a golfer’s skill. Augusta National uses “par 5” advisedly here since the average score on the hole was closer to 4 than 5 on Thursday. Basically, it played like a par 4. Ten golfers eagled it and finished with an average score of 73.2. The 43 players that birdied it finished with an average score of 72.7. The 37 golfers that parred it finished with an average of 73.4. Even the three players that bogeyed it ended up averaging 73.3. If you camped out at 15 all day, you saw some of the world’s best players but you also could not have drawn any conclusions on a golfer’s ability based on what you saw. All told, the R2 for a player’s score on 15 and their final score was 0.05.
Of course, this is probably just statistical noise. I wouldn’t expect 13 to hold up as the single-most significant hole through each day of the tournament, except for the possibility that it’s a par 5 and there are more chances for a golfer to show his skill there. Still, that effect must be somewhat small.
The 13th hole also featured the most variance among individual scores. The standard deviation of scores was 0.81, with one eagle, 38 birdies, 40 pars, 12 bogies, one double bogey, and one triple bogey. The least interesting hole was the par-3 fourth with a standard deviation of 0.47. It saw nothing but pars except for two birdies and 23 bogies.
In terms of players, the award for the most interesting scorecard goes to Craig Stadler. En route to a 7-over 79, he carded three birdies, four bogeys, a double, and a quad. The least interesting scorecard was turned in by Fredrik Jacobsen, who finished at even par after a round with a birdie, a bogey, and 16 pars.