Augusta National Golf Club, 12th Hole

Augusta National Golf Club, 12th Hole

Augusta National Golf Club, Augusta, Georgia. The great Bobby Jones founded this historic, exclusive golf club in 1931. With the help of Scottish designer Alister Mackenzie , Jones created one of the most historic  tournaments and golf clubs known to professional sports, let alone the game of golf.

After Jones won his Grand Slam in 1930, he abruptly retired from the game. He then set out to build the golf course of his dreams inspired by the historic St. Andrews in Scotland. Construction began in 1931 after Jones purchased an indigo plantation then called the Fruitland Nurseries. In December of 1932 the course officially opened. Ed Dudley served as head green’s keeper for the first three years until 1935. Sandy Hutchinson served as his assistant green’s keeper before he left to become the head green’s keeper at a course in Pennsylvania. Hutchinson later returned as a player and an announcer at the Masters. Augusta hosted its first tournament in 1934, then under the name the Augusta National Invitation Tournament. The tournament was officially changed to the Masters in 1939 per Jones’ request.

The Masters is one of the most honorable tournaments in which to compete in all sports. Augusta National is the only course ever to host the Masters and is the only course that will ever host the Masters. As one of the four Major tournaments held each year, Augusta provides one of the most challenging courses to navigate. Held every April, the Masters begins every year with an honorary starter. A tradition that originally began in 1963 with Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod was renewed in 2007 with Arnold Palmer.

The course has changed over the years from the original design that had St. Andrews in mind, but the course still embraces many of the key features of years past. The layout originally featured very few trees, sparse but deep bunkers, and was generally speaking an open layout. Each hole is named after the tree or plant that has been associated with it.

1.       Tea Olive

2.       Pink Dogwood

3.       Flowering Peach

4.       Flowering Crab Apple

5.       Magnolia

6.       Juniper

7.       Pampas

8.       Yellow Jasmine

9.       Carolina Cherry

10.   Camellia

11.   White Dogwood

12.   Golden Bell

13.   Azalea

14.   Chinese Fir

15.   Firethorn

16.   Redbud

17.   Nandina

18.   Holly

Other notable features found at Augusta:

The Eisenhower Pine is located on the 17th hole, a little over 200 yards out, on the left side of the fairway. Founders Circle is located at the end of Magnolia Lane, in the front of the clubhouse. Magnolia Lane is the drive that leads up to the clubhouse that is lined with 61 magnolia trees. Rae’s Creek flows behind the 11th green, through to the front of the 12th green, then finally on over to the 13th tee. Hogan’s Bridge crosses Rae’s Creek in front of the 12th green and Nelson Bridge leads on to the tee box of the 13th hole.

That same stretch of 11th, 12th, and 13th through Augusta is known as Amen Corner. The name is said to have come from an old Southern expression that was quoted in an issue of Sports Illustrated in 1958. In that year Arnold Palmer took home the green jacket with an amazing showing through this stretch of the course. He ended up defeating Ken Venturi.

Augusta is an exclusive club with membership strictly by invitation only. Women are not permitted as members of Augusta, but are permitted to play the course as the guest of one of the only male members or as a caddy in the Masters.  As of 2004, there are 293 members. Notably: Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway; Peter Coors, chairman of Coors Brewing; Kenneth Chenault, chairman and CEO of American Express; Lou Gerstner, chairman of IBM; Roger Penske, chairman of Penske Corp.; and former General Electric CEO Jack Welch.

Though it is not required per PGA Tour mandate, the caddies respect the while one piece throughout the tournament. The players competed with caddies on the bag provided by Augusta. This lassted until 1983 at the request of Jack Nicklaus to have his own caddy carry his bag in competition. Jack won 6 Masters and only one with his own caddy, his son Jackie in 1986 at the age of 46. But hey we could talk all time Masters highlights all day long.