Unlike the other three golf major championships that are played on different venues around the world, The Masters has been played at The Augusta National Golf Club since it’s inception. Augusta National is the one stop on the PGA tour that almost everyone who is familiar with the sport of golf has one hole, or one memory that is firmly implanted in their mind and represents The Masters.
In 1930 during the depths of the great depression, legendary Golfer, Bobby Jones wanted to build a Golf Course. After teaming up with investment banker, Clifford Roberts, the pair found a 365 acre place near Augusta Georgia that was the former site of The Fruitlands Nurseries. Upon seeing the land Jones said ” It seems that this land had been laying here for years just waiting for someone to lay a golf course on it.”
They purchased the site in 1931, and hired legendary designer Dr. Alister McKenzie to design the course with significant input from Bobby Jones. Construction was completed and formally opened for play in 1933. In an attempt to increase membership, Jones and Roberts decided to get a professional event at Augusta, and in 1934, the Masters tournament was born. Dr. McKenzie never lived long enough to see the first Masters.
The tournament wasn’t originally called the Masters, and Bobby Jones didn’t want it to be named the Masters, but relented to the pressure, and in 1939 let the tournament be officially named The Masters.
When I was a kid in the 50’s Major League Baseball was the National Pastime, and most of us didn’t have televisions, the only memories I have of golf was from the sports part of the black and white newsreels at the movies. The Masters always made the reels, but it wasn’t until the late 60’s that we were able to see the beauty of Augusta National in living color.
In the early years of televising the Masters, they would only show selective holes, and because broadcasters would always say the Masters begins on Sunday at the 10th hole, most of us have more knowledge of the back nine than the front side.
The demanding drive at 10 that plays from the top of the mountain and requires a draw to catch the huge down slope, to the massive green at the bottom of the mountain where the last two Masters were decided in extra holes. Named Camellia, the green is always bathed in shadows late in the afternoon when the ability to read a putt is paramount.
Be sure to hit your drive at 11 to the right and stay away from the pond just to the left, ask Greg Norman about that pond, and the beginning of Amen Corner. Many a Green Jacket lies in Rae’s Creek and the area behind the par three 12th hole.
The par five 13th and 15 are what defines the beauty of Augusta. The trees, the flowers and the two holes where you can win a Green Jacket if you hit a great tee shot. You can make an easy eagle on these two holes, or you can make a double bogey, but if you don’t at least get through them with birdie, you are losing ground to the field.
The par three 16th hole has been the place to win the Masters. Just ask Arnold Palmer in 1960, and Tiger Woods in 2005(his last Masters Championship). When Nike paid Tiger Woods $40 Million Dollars to promote their brand, they got every dollar back when the impossible chip shot from the back of the green stopped for just an instant to show you the Swoosh, then gently dropped into the cup.
Golf.com has put together an array of photos called “Augusta National from 4000 Feet” that begin in 1960, and include periods of construction to present day. It is well worth a click, and a trip down memory lane.
The following is a list of the holes at Augusta and is taken from Wikipedia. Keeping with the nursery roots of Augusta National, it includes a link to the history of the plant each hole is named after.
|2||Pink Dogwood||575||5||11||White Dogwood||505||4|
|3||Flowering Peach||350||4||12||Golden Bell||155||3|
|4||Flowering Crab Apple||240||3||13||Azalea||510||5|
The 10th hole, Camellia is my favorite at Augusta, let me know in the comments section, which is your favorite!
Source: Golf.com Wikipedia, The Magnificent Masters by Gil Capps