The Augusta Golf Club has a rich history, dating back to 1931 when the land in Georgia was purchased. Originally a fruit orchard, the area boasted many unique natural features. The founders of the club, Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, saw a unique opportunity to create an amazing golf club. With the vision of Jones and Roberts, Augusta opened in 1934, hosting annual invitation tournaments.
What’s in a Name?
This prestigious club flourished, changing its tournament name from the Augusta National Invitation Tournament to the Masters in 1939. This tournament is one of four major professional golf championships, and the only one that plays at the same course each year. The Masters attracts golfers and spectators alike as it displays some of the best professional golf that the world has to offer.
Green with Envy
The classic green jacket associated with Augusta was the vision of Roberts, who originally intended it as a uniform for the staff so that helpful assistance could be easily recognized. The jacket soon became the badge of honor for the members of the club and for the winners of the Masters Tournament. From the first endowment of the jacket to Sam Snead in 1949, to the latest victor, Bubba Watson, this tradition has become a symbol of honor and prestige for its wearers.
One must be invited to join this exclusive club; there is no application process. This makes membership at the Augusta Golf Club a coveted title. Until 1990, African-Americans were not allowed to join, and past rules of the club stated that all caddies must be black. It was an epic year at the Masters in 1997 when Tiger Woods, employing a white caddie, won his first of four Masters Championships. Some of the more notable Augusta members include Bill Gates, President Dwight Eisenhower, Warren Buffett, Lynn Swann and T. Boone Pickens, Jr. In August 2012, the club admitted its first two female members, Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore. The club has been the object of severe criticism for its membership policy, but Augusta has always stood firm, saying that it’s a private club, and their policy regarding who is allowed to join is also private.
The Price of Success
Because of the exclusive nature of Augusta, actual membership fees and annual dues is a well-kept secret. Anonymous members have disclosed general ball-park figures regarding the investment required to join the golfing elite. The amount lies in the “low five-figures,” with annual dues being “a few thousand dollars.” Considering this amount is drastically lower than some other golf clubs (requiring upwards of $500,000 to $750,000), it is clearly not about the money. Augusta profits more from revenues of the Masters Tournament than from the dues of its members.
Augusta has undergone many changes and improvements to its landscape. These additions have added depth and beauty to Augusta, intensifying its meaning and creating sentimental attachment to the club for its members.
- Water Under the Bridge: Dwight Eisenhower inspired the building of a 3-acre pond which was named in his honor, Ike’s Pond. Many legendary golfers have inspired the construction of bridges at Augusta. In 1955, Sarazen Bridge was built to honor Gene Sarazen’s miraculous “shot heard round the world,” leading to his victory over Craig Wood. Hogan Bridge was constructed in 1958 in honor of Ben Hogan and his 1954 score of 274 in four rounds, the record at that time. Nelson Bridge, named after Byron Nelson, honors his 1937 victory against Ralph Guldahl.
- The Fountain of Youth: The Par 3 Fountain lists the contest winners, beginning with Sam Snead. The Record Fountain commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Masters Tournament. These tributes to past winners allow players to connect with legendary Augusta victors.
So, what exactly is the attraction of Augusta? It is a connection to the past for those who appreciate the sport. Through the years, it has taken its place as a venue unlike any other. Its exclusive membership and its rich legacy of golfers who have played here have given it the sacred position as the home of the masters.
About the Author: Phil Oscarson is an avid golfer/golf analyst. He currently resides in the southern California region so he’s able to golf year round. No matter where you want to golf, there is always a place to find great golf deals.
Photo Credits: Wikipedia