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Augusta National Golf Club

Augusta National Golf Club, located in the American city of Augusta, Georgia, is one of the most storied and exclusive golf clubs in the world. Founded by Bobby Jones and designed by Alister MacKenzie on the site of a former indigo plantation, the club opened for play in January 1933. Since 1934 it has played host to the annual Masters Tournament, one of the four major championships in professional golf.

Overview

Augusta National is generally regarded as the most revered golf course on the PGA Tour. Since the Masters is held at the same venue every year, fans have the unique opportunity to become familiar with the course, something the other three rotating majors do not afford.

The course is well known for its botanic beauty as well. Because the Masters is held the first weekend following the first full week in April, the flowers of the trees and shrubs bordering the course are in full bloom during the tournament. Each hole on the course is named after the tree or shrub with which it has become associated:

Hole # Name Par Yards Meters
1 Tea Olive 4 455 416
2 Pink Dogwood 5 575 526
3 Flowering Peach 4 350 320
4 Flowering Crab Apple 3 240 219
5 Magnolia 4 455 416
6 Juniper 3 180 165
7 Pampas 4 450 411
8 Yellow Jasmine 5 570 521
9 Carolina Cherry 4 460 421
       
Hole # Name Par Yards Meters
10 Camellia 4 495 453
11 White Dogwood 4 505 462
12 Golden Bell 3 155 142
13 Azalea 5 510 466
14 Chinese Fir 4 440 402
15 Firethorn 5 530 485
16 Redbud 3 170 155
17 Nandina 4 440 402
18 Holly 4 465 425

Unlike almost every other private or public golf course in the United States, Augusta National has apparently never been rated. During the 1990 Masters Tournament, a team of USGA raters organized by Golf Digest evaluated the course and gave it an unofficial rating of 76.2.

Amen Corner

The second shot at the 11th, all of the 12th, and the tee shot at the 13th hole at Augusta were termed "Amen Corner" by author Herbert Warren Wind in a 1958 Sports Illustrated article. Searching for a name for the location where critical action had taken place that year, he borrowed the name (he and everyone thought for years, even after his death) from an old jazz recording "Shouting at Amen Corner" by a band under the direction of Milton Mezzrow. In the April 2008 issue of Golf Digest, author Bill Fields updated that information based on the findings of Richard Moore, a jazz and golf historian who tried to purchase an old 78 RPM of the so-called "Shoutin at Amen Corner" Mezzrow recording (for an exhibit in his Golf Museum). As Fields reports, according to Moore and worldwide jazz recording experts the record does not exist and all along Wind was probably referring to Mildred Bailey's popular 1936 recording of "Shoutin in that Amen Corner". Wind had bogeyed his memory.

In 1958 Arnold Palmer outlasted Ken Venturi for the Green Jacket with heroic escapes at Amen Corner. Amen Corner also played host to prior Masters moments like Byron Nelson's birdie-eagle at 12 and 13 in 1937, and Sam Snead's water save at 12 in 1949 that sparked him to victory.

Criticisms of course changes

At one point, Augusta National could have been considered amongst the two or three most innovative designs in U.S. golf. The scarcity of bunkers and its width of fairways were in stark contrast to the penal features found on the most revered U.S. courses at that time. However, the many changes from several different architects — including adding bunkers, reducing the green contours, and adding trees and rough — have taken the course away from Bobby Jones' and MacKenzie's inspiration of St Andrews in Scotland.

The greens at the Masters were traditionally Bermuda grass. In 1981, they were reconstructed with bent grass, resulting in a significantly faster surface, requiring a reduction in the contours of the greens.

Natural features

"The Big Oak Tree"

"The big oak tree" is on the golf course side of the clubhouse and is approximately 145–150 years old. The tree was planted in the 1850s.

Eisenhower Tree

Also known as the "Eisenhower Pine", is a loblolly pine located on the 17th hole, approximately 210 yards (192 m) from the Master's tee. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, an Augusta National member, hit the tree so many times that, at a 1956 club meeting, he proposed that it be cut down. Not wanting to offend the President, the club's chairman, Clifford Roberts, immediately adjourned the meeting rather than reject the request outright.

Ike's Pond

During a visit to Augusta National, then General Eisenhower returned from a walk through the woods on the eastern part of the grounds, and informed Clifford Roberts that he had found a perfect place to build a dam if the Club would like a fish pond. Ike's Pond was built and named, and the dam is located just where Eisenhower said it should be.

Rae's Creek

Rae's Creek cuts across the southeastern corner of the Augusta National property. It flows along the back of the 11th green, in front of the 12th green, and ahead of the 13th tee. This is the lowest point in elevation of the course. The Hogan and Nelson Bridges cross the creek after the 12th and 13th tee boxes, respectively. The creek was named after former property owner John Rae, who died in 1789.

Architectural features

Crow's Nest

Available for amateurs wishing to be housed there during the Masters Tournament, the Crow's Nest provides living space for up to five individuals. Rising from the approximately 30 by room is the clubhouse's square cupola. The cupola features windows on all sides and can be reached only by ladder. The Crow's Nest consists of one room with partitions and dividers that create three cubicles with one bed each, and one cubicle with two beds. There is also a full bathroom with an additional sink. The sitting area has a game table, sofa and chairs, telephone and television. Placed throughout the Crow's Nest are books on golf, and lining the walls are photos and sketches depicting past Masters and other golf scenes. To get to the Crow's Nest, golfers must climb a narrow set of steps.

Eisenhower Cabin

One of ten cabins on the Augusta National property, it was built by the club's membership 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.

Founders Circle

A memorial located in front of the course's clubhouse, at the end of Magnolia Lane. Plaques at Founders Circle honor Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts.

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 (300 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 honor his performance in the 1937 Masters.

Par Three Fountain

The Par 3 Fountain is next to the No. 1 tee on the Par 3 course. The fountain has a list of Par 3 contest winners, starting with Sam Snead's win in 1960.

Record Fountain

The Record Fountain was built to commemorate the 25th anniversary of The Masters. Located left of the No. 17 tee, it displays course records and Masters Tournament champions.

Sarazen Bridge

A bridge over the pond on hole 15 that separates the fairway from the green. Made of stone, it was named for Gene Sarazen for a memorable double eagle in the 1935 Masters Tournament that propelled him to victory.

Chairmen

Membership

Augusta National Golf Club has about 300 members at any given time. Initiation fees are reported to range between $25,000 and $50,000. Membership is strictly by invitation; there is no application process. It is expected that annual dues are low (less than $10,000 per year) given the Masters Broadcast on CBS earns the Club millions per year.

Amid much criticism of exclusive and discriminatory admissions, Augusta accepted a black member in 1990.

There are currently no female members of Augusta, although women are able to play the course as guests of a member. The club's lack of female membership received national attention in 2002 when Martha Burk, chairperson of the National Council of Women's Organizations, publicly challenged the club's stance. Pressure placed upon corporate sponsors of The Masters over the 2002 controversy led the Club to voluntarily broadcast the 2003 and 2004 tournaments without commercials.

Notable members

Notable current members include:

See here for a 2002 listing.

The Green Jacket

Every member of Augusta National receives a green sports coat with the club's logo on the left breast. The idea of the green jacket originated with club co-founder Clifford Roberts, who wanted patrons visiting during the tournament to be able to readily identify members. The winner of each year's Masters Tournament receives a green jacket and can play in every subsequent tournament. The jacket is presented to the new winner by the winner of the previous tournament. If the previous champion is unavailable, then the current chairman acts as the presenter.

The current Masters champion has stewardship of the green jacket for a year; afterwards it is returned to the club.

The caddies

Augusta National remains one of the few golf clubs with a staff of caddies ready to assist members, guests and professionals. In the previous Masters Tournaments, staff caddies were assigned to professional players. Not until Jack Nicklaus insisted on having his personal caddy complete competition play alongside him was the protocol changed. Although Augusta's caddy staff continue to wear trademark white jumpsuits year-round, the garb is not a PGA Tour mandate. And though the club remains without female members, female caddies are permitted. Fanny Sunesson is one of the PGA Tour's few female caddies, but has caddied for several players at the Masters, most notably three time Masters champion Nick Faldo, and more recently Henrik Stenson. During the pre-tournament Masters events in 2007, Golf Channel's Kelly Tilghman was selected by Arnold Palmer to caddy alongside him.

References

Architectural features

External links

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