A History Lesson on Augusta National

Source: History lesson on Augusta National – Local News – Orange County, CA – Santa Ana, CA –

SirShanksAlot Comments: A cool article on little known facts about Augusta National. See the original article at the link above.

Little-known facts and historical tidbits about Augusta National Golf Club, where the Masters Tournament gets under way Thursday in Georgia:

There are about 300 members at the private club. You cannot apply for membership; you have to be invited.

Dues are a secret, as is the membership list, though USA Today obtained a copy of the list of members in 2002, when women’s activist Martha Burk drew national attention to the fact that the club had no female members.

At that time, the membership rolls included notables such as Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Peter Coors, Nelson Doubleday, Roger Penske, Lou Holtz, Frank Broyles and George Shultz.

There are still no female members, but there reportedly are a few women on the waiting list. Women are allowed to play as guests of members and account for about 1,000 rounds a year.

There are only three professional golfers who are members: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and John Harris, a former Champions Tour pro who tied for second at the 2006 Toshiba Classic (how’s that for trivia?) in Newport Beach.

Average age of members a few years ago, according to Golf Digest, was 78. That means Pat Haden, who was invited to join the club shortly before he became USC athletic director, brings down the average.

Steve Spurrier and Lynn Swann also are relatively new members. Swann, a former USC great and NFL Hall-of-Famer, is among a handful of African-American members at the club.

Ron Townsend, then president of Gannett Television Group, became the first African-American club member in 1990.

For many years, Augusta National was considered a good-old-boys club of the rich and famous, mostly corporate honchos and CEOs.

This was the way Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times sports columnist Dave Anderson once explained it: “For all the mystique of the Masters, the Augusta National Golf Club itself was America’s last plantation. In the sprawling white clubhouse of what a century ago actually was an indigo plantation, white millionaire members in green jackets were served by black waiters and black bartenders. Out among the azaleas and dogwoods on the course, their golf bags were shouldered by black caddies.”

That has changed now, but Anderson was not exaggerating. In 1975, Lee Elder was the first black pro allowed to play in the Masters, and all resident club caddies were black until 1983, when pros were allowed to bring their own bag-toters.

The property originally used as an indigo plantation run was sold in 1857 to a Belgian family that imported plants and trees from around the world and turned it into Fruitland Nurseries, a 365-acre business that was operated until 1918.

The land was sold to Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, who founded the club and hired Alistair McKenzie to design the course, with help from Jones. The course’s official opening was in 1933 and the first Masters was played in 1934, though it was known the first five years as the “Augusta National Invitational Tournament.”

Between 1943 and 1945, the Masters was not played so that cattle and turkeys could be raised on the grounds to aid the war effort. A number of German prisoners-of-war also were held there.

Each hole is named after a resident tree or shrub, such as Tea Olive, No. 1.

The club is closed from June through mid-October. Think about that; no summer golf?

The club sends out announcement cards after one of its members dies.

Green jackets were first issued to members in 1937, and beginning with Sam Snead in 1949, a green jacket also was awarded annually to the Masters winner.

Dwight David Eisenhower was the first and only president who was a member at Augusta National.

“Amen Corner,” which refers to holes Nos. 11, 12 and 13, was a term coined in 1958 by Sports Illustrated writer Herbert Warren Wind, who was describing where important shots were hit that year. He borrowed the name from a jazz recording, “Shouting at Amen Corner,” performed by Chicago clarinetist Milton Mezzrow’s band.

There are 10 cabins and the clubhouse (built in 1854) on the grounds, where members and their guests can stay except during Masters week.

The club has a “no tolerance” policy for electronic devices. If a spectator is caught with an electronic device or even peeking at his Blackberry, he is immediately escorted off the premises and his credentials are revoked — permanently. Same penalty if you’re caught “scalping” tickets. That means no more Pimento cheese sandwiches for a buck.

A series badge costs $200, but good luck trying to get one at that price. On Tuesday, was advertising four-day badges for $2,795. It might be the toughest ticket in sports — at least until the Anaheim Royals open at Honda Center.

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