Throughout the first full weekend in April, Augusta National Golf Club is home to a tradition unlike any other. That tradition is the first major tournament of the golf season, the Masters. The Masters is arguably the most prestigious tournament that a golfer can win, as taking home a green jacket can elevate a player from being considered a mediocre pro, to being a tour legend.
Tradition runs deep at Augusta National and the Masters. There are several events and annual traditions that make the Masters tournament unlike any other event on the PGA Tour calendar. The Masters also happens to be the setting for some of the most clutch performances and greatest moments in golf history. With clutch performances, come amazing shots.
You could literally write a short novel discussing all of the memorable shots during the Masters through the years, which made narrowing the following list down to five shots incredibly difficult. With that said, what you’ll find with our list is that every shot we included was not only an amazing shot, but they all also played a major role in that golfer winning a green jacket. Without further ado, here are the five greatest shots in Masters history (in no particular order).
1. Gene Sarazen’s double-eagle (1935)
Sarazen’s double-eagle from 235 yards out remains one of the greatest shots and greatest moments in Masters history 80 years later. This shot came on the 15th hole of the final round in the 1935 tournament with Sarazen, otherwise known as “The Squire,” trailing Craig Wood by three strokes. As history would have it, The Squire erased Wood’s entire lead with a shot that is now known as “the shot heard round the world.”
Using a four wood from 235 yards out, Sarazen holed out for a double-eagle. Sarazen and Wood ended up tied after the final round and were forced into a 36-hole playoff. The Squire went on to beat Wood by five strokes to win the second-ever playing of the Masters.
2. Tiger Woods’ chip-in on 16 (2005)
This chip-in on the par-3 16th hole is one of the signature shots of Woods’s distinguished career. Woods was in the midst of a potential final-round collapse. To make matters worse, he pulled his tee shot to the left of the green on 16 and left himself with an extremely difficult par save. What came next was one of the most iconic shots in golf history.
Woods hit the perfect chip, and just when it appeared as though his ball would stop fractions of an inch from rolling into the cup, gravity took over and his ball dropped into the hole for birdie. Woods went on to win the tournament in a one-hole playoff for the fourth green jacket of his career.
3. Larry Mize’s chip-in on the final playoff hole (1987)
Mize’s dramatic chip-in came on the final playoff hole in 1987. After the final round of the tournament ended in a three-way tie, Mize, Greg Norman, and Seve Ballesteros headed to a playoff. Ballesteros was eliminated after the first hole; on the second playoff hole, Norman hit the green with his approach shot, while Mize missed the green by a wide margin with his.
Mize’s next shot ended up being one of the best shots in the history of the Masters. He chipped-in for birdie, which in turn put the pressure on Norman to sink his putt, or the tournament would be over. Norman missed the putt, giving Mize the only major tournament victory of his career.
4. Bubba Watson’s recovery shot from the trees (2012)
This shot was incredibly clutch and nothing short of amazing. After ending the final round in a tie with Louis Oosthuizen, the two players were forced into a sudden death playoff. They carded matching pars on the first playoff hole. On the second playoff hole, both players hit poor drives, with Watson’s being the worse of the two. The 6-foot-3 left-hander pulled his drive deep into the trees and straw and was facing a seemingly impossible par save. His next shot will forever be remembered as one of the greatest shots in golf history.
From 163 yards out, Watson hooked his ball roughly 45 yards around fans, multiple trees, and a television tower landing it within 15 feet of the hole. Here is a graphic of the line Watson’s ball took on the shot.
Oosthuizen’s second shot landed short of the green, forcing him to chip on his third shot. He went on to finish the hole with a bogey, giving Watson the opportunity to two-putt for the win. Watson took advantage and tapped in his second putt to win the 2012 Masters.
5. Phil Mickelson from behind a pine tree (2010)
At the time of this shot, Mickelson was playing with a two-stroke lead. He easily could have played it safe, but Lefty chose to live dangerously, and it paid off in a big way when he hit one of the finest shots in Masters history. From just over 200 yards out on the 13th hole with a massive pine tree standing directly between his ball and the green, Mickelson hit a four iron shot that stuck on the green less than 10 feet from the hole. He went on to birdie the hole en route to winning the third green jacket of his career.
6. Jack Nicklaus’ 40-foot putt on 16 (1975)
The 1975 Masters had one of the most thrilling final rounds in tournament history. The three best players in the world at the time — Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, and Tom Weiskopf — all teed off in the final two pairings, and battled it out until the end.
When it was all said and done, Nicklaus took home the green jacket. And it was in large part due to his amazing birdie put on the par 3 16th. Just minutes after Weiskopf sank a birdie putt on No. 15 to take the lead (which resulted in thunderous applause from the viewing gallery), Nicklaus stepped up and drained a now-legendary 40-foot birdie to regain a share of the lead. Nicklaus’ clutch putt clearly rattled Weiskopf, who went on to bogey No. 16 and permanently fall one shot off the lead.
7. Sandy Lyle’s fairway bunker shot on 18 (1988)
Any avid golfer will tell you that fairway bunkers flat-out suck. But at the 1988 Masters, Sandy Lyle made the fairway bunker on No. 18 look like child’s play.
During the final round, Lyle and Mark Calcavecchia went into No. 18 tied for the lead. Lyle hit his 1-iron tee shot into a fairway bunker, which seemingly gave Calcavecchia a major advantage. Lyle’s next shot was simply amazing. From the bunker, Lyle hit a near-perfect 7-iron approach shot that rolled within 10 feet of the hole. He drained his birdie putt and claimed his first (and only) career green jacket.
8. Adam Scott’s 25-foot birdie putt on 18 (2013)
Adam Scott started the final round of the 2013 Masters in the second-to-last pairing of the day. In less than ideal conditions, the Australian stuck his approach shot on No. 18 about 25 feet away from the hole. And in one of the most clutch putts in tournament history, Scott drained the 25-footer to take a one shot lead on Angel Cabrera.
Cabrera answered with a birdie of his own, but Scott went on to win the tournament (becoming the first Aussie to ever win the Masters) on the second hole of a sudden death playoff.
Honorable mention: Louis Oosthuizen’s albatross on 2 (2012)
Oosthuizen finished as the runner-up in 2012, but this shot was simply too amazing to not mention. This was only the fourth albatross (three-under par/double eagle shot) in Masters history.
Honorable mention: Louis Oosthuizen’s hole-in-one on 16 (2016)
This is another shot that had no significant impact on the tournament leaderboard, but was too great for us to ignore.