Augusta National Golf Club, considered the masterpiece of the legendary Bobby Jones, the game’s only Grand Slam winner, was built in the early 1930s and opened in 1934 with hardly any members, but is today rated by Americans in general as their country’s most revered course.
Perhaps because it is in play year after year whereas its rival courses have to share the other three majors on a rotational basis, Augusta has an advantage, but there is no denying its beauty and condition which is especially evident when the Masters is held there in early spring
Every hole on the course is named after a tree or shrub that grows on the hole, some of them being Magnolia, Pink Dogwood, Flowering Crab Apple and Azalea, but perhaps the most famous holes are the testing 11th, 12th and 13th which have collectively come to be known as ‘Amen Corner’ after Herbert Warren gave them that name in a 1958 Sports Illustrated article.
Because of its history, the club has many features, but perhaps the best known are:
The Crows Nest: Reserved for amateurs who have qualified for the Masters by winning the US and British Amateurs, it provides living space for up to five individuals and golfers have to climb a narrow set of steps to get there.
Eisenhower Cabin: One of ten members’ cabins on the Augusta National property, it was built for member Dwight D. Eisenhower after his election as President of the United States. The cabin was built according to Secret Service security guidelines, and is adorned by an eagle located above the front porch.
Hogan Bridge: A bridge over Rae’s Creek that connects the fairway of Hole 12 to its green. It is constructed of stone and covered with artificial turf. The bridge was dedicated to Ben Hogan in 1958 to commemorate his 72-hole score of 274 strokes five years earlier, the course record at the time.
Magnolia Lane: The main driveway leading from Washington Road to the course’s clubhouse. The lane is flanked on either side by 61 magnolia trees, each grown from seeds planted by the Berckman family in the 1850s. Magnolia Lane is 330 yards (301.75 m) long and was paved in 1947.
Nelson Bridge: A stonework bridge over Rae’s Creek that connects the teeing ground of Hole 13 to its fairway. In 1958, it was dedicated to Byron Nelson to honour his performance in the 1937 Masters.
Sarazen Bridge: A bridge over the pond on Hole 15 that separates the fairway from the green. Made of stone, it was named after Gene Sarazen for his sensational albatross (double eagle) with a four wood at the 1935 Masters tournament which was called “the shot that went around the world” because of all the publicity both he and golf received internationally.
Georgia’s Augusta National Golf Club, made famous by the legendary Bobby Jones and his brainchild, The Masters, is one of the most exclusive clubs in sport.
Membership is strictly by invitation and the golf course and the club’s other facilities are available only to members and their guests.
No women has ever been invited to join the club, though some women have played the course as guests, and its membership list of the who’s who, past and present, of US business, politics, law and other largely conservative professions is seldom allowed to grow much beyond the 300 mark.
Members, among them Bill Gates, co-founder and chairman of Microsoft, Warren Buffet, businessman and member of the Forbes 400 List and Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, are said to pay annual fees ranging from $25,000 to $50,000
Along with the legendary Cliff Roberts who led the club and established many of its fundamentals from the time of its inauguration in 1934 until 1976, Augusta has had a total of six chairman, William Porter ‘Billy’ Payne being the man in charge at the present time.
Other chairman included William Lane (1976-80), Hord Hardin (1980-91), Jack Stephens (1991-98) and William ‘Hootie’ Johnson (1998-2006), the main target of the Martha Burk-led National Council of Women’s unsuccessful campaign to get women admitted to Augusta.
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