A literary tradition unlike any other: The best books about the Masters

1 of 7 Courtesy Amazon

Making the Masters: Bobby Jones and the Birth of America’s Greatest Golf Tournament

Say this for David Barrett: He thinks big. Here, he embraces Jones, Clifford Roberts, the genesis of Augusta and the beginnings of the little golf gathering held there every April. Once again, his blend of narrative and research gives the past real presence, swinging through the details of the course's creation and the first two invitationals that served as prologue to so much golfing richness that would follow.

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America’s Gift to Golf: Herbert Warren Wind on the Masters

"If it's nae wind, it's nae golf," the Scots assure us. The American corollary, then, might go something like this: "It it's nae Wind, it's nae the Masters." Stretching from 1954 to 1989, here, finally, are all of Wind's essential words on the event he brought so much color to with those words, including the two most associated with it: "Amen Corner," which he coined. There's even the unpublished gem that only ran in the SI prototype. Jones. Sarazen. Snead. Hogan. Palmer. Player. Nicklaus. Watson. Crenshaw. The gang's all here. Hallelujah. And amen.

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One for the Ages: Jack Nicklaus and the 1986 Masters

Augusta. Jack. 1986 -- a threesome still raising goosebumps 25 years after the fact. Clavin marks the anniversary with a mix of Masters' history and a re-creation of events, building his retelling of the Nicklaus ascension on contemporary reportage and the recollections of a few key players. That the 21st century Bear makes nary a cameo is of no consequence; the masterpiece that he left golf hangs eternally on its own.

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Two Roads to Augusta: The Inspiring Story of How Two Men from Different Backgrounds Grew to Become Best Friends and Capture the Biggest Prize in Golf

The cover photo of the hulking Jackson tenderly consoling a victorious, doubled-over Crenshaw at the 1995 Masters just days after the death of Crenshaw's beloved mentor Harvey Penick is one of golf's most memorable; so is the abiding relationship between Gentle Ben and his Augusta caddie. How their paths diverged is a distinctly American kind of story, told as a lushly illustrated dual biography spread out against a backdrop of the game and the cultural canvas of the times.

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Michael Bamberger pulls back the curtain and captures these legends--Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Hale Irwin, and many others--as they actually are. The Palmer chapter will all but grab you by the back of the neck and never let go. I can't think of any higher praise other than to say that Men in Green is as authentic as the Masters itself.

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It's not easy digging up fresh insights on one of the most famous, yet secretive clubs on earth, Augusta National. Freddie & Me does so in admirable fashion. This coming-of-age tale of the first full-time white caddie in the club's history succeeds on many levels. It's replete with always entertaining caddie yarns. It's also a classic tale of a young man and his street-wise mentor. Yet, ultimately, it's a rare look at the inner workings of America's most storied golf club, from Masters Week to regular days, as remembered by a likable young guy who soaked it all in.

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In The Making of the Masters, author David Owen received access to Augusta National Golf Club archives and records to tell the story of how the prestigious club, and tournament, came to be. The book is filled with letters and stories that co-founders Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones sent to one another, and others, in Augusta's early years. The club evolves as you turn the pages. What the book also gives readers is an in-depth profile of Roberts, from his childhood until his death, and how a misunderstood man helped create what is today the biggest tournament in golf.

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