Augusta is a singular place in golf, known for the perfection that graces its eighteen holes every April (with the odd November thrown in for good measure). In this year’s Agronomy Week, we want to show you everything on the ground that makes the magic possible. You’ve seen the place on TV, but this year we want to make sure everyone can stop and smell the azaleas, the camellias, and the magnolias. Consider these notes your beginner’s guide to the foliage at Augusta.
1. Tea Olive
PAR 4 – 445 YARDS
Osmanthus fragrans, or the tea olive or fragrant olive, is an evergreen that’s native from the Himalayas to Japan and as far south as Thaliand. It’s a shrub or small tree (up to 15-20 feet tall) with fragrant white flowers that bloom from December to March. Used in — you guessed it — teas and even traditional Chinese desserts. But this one’s a good starter.
2. Pink Dogwood
PAR 5 – 575 YARDS
The cornus florida, var. Ruba is native to eastern North America, the Pink Dogwood is a small deciduous tree found throughout the South that is known for its bright foliage. Flowers range from white to a deep raspberry pink, and flower head is surrounded by four symmetrical petals. Commonly planted for ornamental purposes because of its splendor and innate ability to capture double eagles.
3. Flowering Peach
PAR 4 – 350 YARDS
The Flowering Peach is the species Prunus persica, and is originally native to China. Usually blooming from mid- to late March, its single and double blooms come in red, pink, white, or even a tie-dye combination of all three. It needs full sun and moist soil — and there’s no better place for that than this tract of land in Augusta.
4. Flowering Crab Apple
PAR 3 – 230 YARDS
This one’s more flower than crab or apple, but last November you might have seen birds feasting on the tiny apples that appear on Malus hybrida every fall. Keep an eye out for these little beauties on the right side of the hole.
FUN FACT: The 4th hole used to be named “Palm” after the lone palm on the grounds, left over after Augusta National’s previous life as a plant nursery.
PAR 4 – 495 YARDS
Perhaps the most notable flowering tree of the American south, you’ll find magnolias all over Augusta and particularly cloaking the 5th green. It’s a massive evergreen with enormous white flowers that just smell like springtime. Typically blooming in May, but look out for a few rogue spots of white this weekend.
PAR 3 – 180 YARDS
Another deciduous flowering tree native to North America, Juniperus virginiana Is incredibly popular for furniture. You’ll find it all along the slopes down between the 6th tee and green at The Masters, with dark green foliage and the rare berry or two poking out for a glimpse as the players walk by.
DID YOU KNOW: A lot of Christmas trees in the south are actually Juniper trees?
PAR 4 – 470 YARDS
This one actually bloomed last summer, but its tassel-like seeds and shape last for months — all the way up until the tournament in the spring. Cortaderia selloana, or pampas grass, is actually native to Argentina, and it sprouts up out of the ground just left off the tee.
8. Yellow Jasmine
PAR 5 – 570 YARDS
Look closely and you might be able to catch the trumpet-shaped blooms off the right side of the fairway. Yellow Jasmine, or Gelsemium sempervirens, is a twining vine that’s native around these parts. Its blooms last from February through early April, so its days are numbered.
9. Carolina Cherry
PAR 4 – 460 YARDS
The front 9 ends with Prunus caroliniana, or Carolina Cherry. The plant is a smaller evergreen tree with clusters of small, white flowers coming out to greet the patrons every April, followed by black berries that are beloved by a variety of birds.
PAR 4 – 495 YARDS
Camellia, or Camellia japonica, you might be able to gather is a flowering tree from Japan. It’s from the Tea family, and is native within China and Japan. Back when Augusta was a nursery and not a golf course, it housed not one but 24 different varieties of camellias, with all kinds of colors creating the natural splendor on the grounds. Take a peek behind the bunkers on the right side of the green as the players start the back — those are camellias.
11. White Dogwood
PAR 4 – 505 YARDS
Here we go. The beginning of the most iconic stretch of golf: Amen Corner. White Dogwoods line the left side of this hole, where Bryson started to get himself in trouble back in November. Cornus florida is one of the most popular trees in this part of the U.S., bringing bright white blooms in the spring and colorful fall foliage come autumn.
12. Golden Bell
PAR 3 – 155 YARDS
The Golden Bell is a deciduous shrub native to East Asia, belonging to the Olive family. Bell-shaped yellow flowers adorn the bush’s branches, and bloom at the perfect time: mid-April. Best positioned in full sun in moist soil. Beautifully enchanting, in an unnerving way. Plant near Rae’s Creek for most dramatic results.
An examination of the most arbitrary rule in golf.
PAR 5 – 510 YARDS
If Golden Bell is the most iconic hole at Augusta, this rhododendron is the tournament and the course’s most iconic plant: the azalea. The flowers have become synonymous with springtime, with April, and with the beauty that this course has to offer. If there’s one flower to remember at Augusta, it’s this one. And there isn’t a more fitting hole for it to provide a backdrop.
14. Chinese Fir
PAR 4 – 440 YARDS
If you’ve said your prayers at Amen Corner hopefully you approach Chinese Fir relatively unscathed. Here you’ll approach the exotic Cunninghamia lanceolata, also known as the Chinese Fir. Naturally native to China, it’s not your everyday evergreen. The flowers are a a subtle green, so it might be hard to see this one on TV. In it’s home of China this fir is a prized tree, used for all sorts of practical purposes.
PAR 5 – 530 YARDS
The final par 5 at August is named after Pyracantha coccinea, or Firethorn. Pyromaniacs might be able to recognize the etymology here, since Firethorn is obviously known for its bright orange and red berries which all but burn the iris. They’re truly spectacular. This time of year, those berries are surrounded by soft white blooms, and the last part of the name ‘Firethorn’ comes from the sharp armor that this plant bears.
PAR 3 – 170 YARDS
Another iconic par 3 in this closing stretch is Cercis canadensis, a small tree that’s nativue and popular around Georgia and the rest of the Southeast. Surprisingly, the blooms on the Redbud are actually more of a pink color than red — which could be a bit misleading if you’re walking around the property on a botanical tour. Luckily, however, it blooms right around this time in the spring, making the auditorium across the pond at 16 a beautiful setting to watch the leaders finish.
PAR 4 – 440 YARDS
Another plant native to East Asia is the Nandina domestica, which the second-to-last hole at Augusta is named after. It’s occasionally called by its nickname “Heavenly Bamboo”, but you may have to be a real Field Observer to get that one. In houses across Japan, the Nandina adorns doorways as a symbol of good luck. As you can probably guess? It blooms in April, but it can show all kinds of colors through the year.
PAR 4 – 465 YARDS
Holly lines the way home. Its genus Ilex opaca might confuse you at first, but the American Holly is a familiar tree that can be seen all over during the winter holidays. It’s recognizable for its sharp leaves and red berries that sprout at the end of the year, so in the spring its best known as the hallway through which the winner of The Masters Tournament approaches their green jacket.
If you liked this botanical field trip through golf’s most picturesque track, take a look at our RGC Field Observer Collection!