From a six-iron to a set of spoons, here are 18 artifacts that capture the lore and roars of the Masters at Augusta National, golf’s greatest tournament.
1. READY TO BLOOM
Before it was a golf course, Augusta National was a 365-acre nursery…just aching to be a golf course. “If our finished product is favorably received, it will be in part due to the excellent material at our disposal,” Augusta designer Alister MacKenzie wrote in 1933 during the late stages of construction. “We had plenty of land, towering pine forests, a large variety of other trees, beautiful shrubbery, streams of water…” You get the idea.
2. MAGIC WAND
Few clubs are as synonymous with their owners as Calamity Jane is with Augusta National co-founder Bob Jones. The rusting, beat-up blade helped Jones win his first three majors (before he replaced it with a replica), and in turn awarded Jones the influence to build—and attract members to—his dream course. (During a practice round at the ’36 Masters, Jones dusted off the original Calamity Jane and hit just 25 putts on his way to a 64.)
3. MAN WITH A PLAN
Donald Ross lobbied to design the National, but Jones wouldn’t bite. He instead turned to the less heralded MacKenzie, whose artistry (that’s the first green, below), efficiency and love of the Old Course at St. Andrews won him the job. It took MacKenzie just 76 working days to build his masterpiece, though he would never see it host a Masters. He died of heart failure on January 6, 1934.
4. YOU’RE INVITED!
One hundred charter members and guests—including one Bob Solensten of Crestwood, N.Y.—were invited to the much-anticipated unveiling of Jones’s new baby. Each ponied up $100 for three days of golf and gluttony. According to Stan Byrdy’s The Augusta National Golf Club, a wicked cold front hit Augusta that weekend, but “a keg of corn whiskey at the start of each nine helped keep the party in good sprits.”
5. GET WITH THE PROGRAM
Jones never cared for the moniker “The Masters”—too uppity, he felt—so for the first five years his event was known as the Augusta National Invitation Tournament. In the inaugural edition, in 1934, the game’s giants filled the tee sheets, but with beer kegs at the turn and free drinks for the patrons, the tournament was more of a breezy exhibition than a cutthroat competition.
6. MAKE IT A DOUBLE
You’ve heard of the “shot heard ’round the world.” This was the bullet. Three strokes off the lead with four holes to play in the 1935 Masters, Gene Sarazen ripped a 4-wood second shot at the par-5 15th. Two-hundred and thirty-five yards later, the Squire’s ball disappeared into the cup for a double-eagle 2 — and one of the most famous hole-outs in history. “Frankly, I’m tired of discussing it,” Sarazen said years later. “You’d think I had never done anything else but hit that shot.”
7. WHO YOU CALLING WEE MON?
Before the Par-3 Contest became a Masters rite in 1960, the field competed in other tests of skill and showmanship, including putting and ballstriking competitions. There was even a long-drive contest, won by Ben Hogan — all 5’8″ of him—in 1952. Hogan would win two Masters, in 1951 and ’53.
8. DEAR GENE…
It’s one thing to receive an invite to the Masters. It’s quite another to get a letter like this…
9. UP IN SMOKE
After Arnold Palmer double-bogeyed the 72nd hole to lose the ’61 Masters by a stroke to Gary Player, the King exited the premises in “quiet fury and agony,” he recalled in his 1999 book, A Golfer’s Life. “In self-disgust, I slammed my golf shoes onto the front seat, denting the lovely engraved silver cigarette case [Augusta Chairman] Clifford Roberts had presented to the players’ wives that year.” The box—dents and all—now sits on Palmer’s office desk in Latrobe, Pa., a painful reminder of what could have been.
10. TO CATCH A THIEF
The benefactor of Palmer’s ’61 miscue? Gary Player, who wore his green jacket on the flight home to Johannesburg, unaware he had committed a cardinal sin. Three days later, Player recalls, the phone rang, Clifford Roberts calling: “Gary,” he said, “have you taken the jacket home? You know you cannot do that, my boy!” Roberts eventually relented, allowing Player to keep the jacket on the condition he never don it in public. “To this day,” Player says, “I have kept my vow and the jacket (right) remains carefully framed and preserved in my trophy room.”
11. THE DWIGHT STUFF
With a nod to Bill Gates and Jack Welch, Augusta’s most famous member was President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who during his 21-year tenure visited the club 45 times, including 29 trips during his time in office (and you think Obama plays a lot of golf). Tributes to Ike are all over the grounds, including the Eisenhower Tree and Ike’s Pond, where he used to fish.
12. FROM AUGUSTA WITH LOVE
Pocket radios. Women’s purses. Steak knives. The gifts Augusta National has bestowed upon its members and other supporters at Masters past have ranged from practical to pretty to, well, 1975’s unusual offering: a first-aid kit.
13. HERE’S THE SCOOP
In the early ’80s, the London jeweler Garrards obtained Augusta’s blessing to produce a set of 18 enameled silver spoons, one for each of Augusta’s holes. They were first exhibited at the 1982 British Open at Royal Troon, where Barbara Nicklaus decided she just had to have them. So, too, did Maria Floyd and Linda Watson. In all, a dozen sets were made.
14. SUNDAY FINEST
Quick, name that shirt. (Clue: The owner won the fifth of his six Masters in it, in 1975. Answer, as if you need help: Jack, of course!) Masteers in it, in 1975. Answweeerr, as if you need help: Jacck, of course!)
15. LOFTY ACHIEVEMENT
“They called it 140 feet,” Larry Mize said of his epic chip-in on the second hole of a playoff at the 1987 Masters. “It was about 100 feet. Let’s get it right now—100 feet.” Indeed, Mize’s miraculous bump-and-run at the par-4 11th, executed with this 57-degree MacGregor wedge, needs no embellishment. Just ask Greg Norman, who looked on crestfallen as Mize’s ball bounced up a slope, across the green and into the hole.
16. HAIL TO THE KING (COBRA)
It looks piddling by today’s standards, but the 8.5-degree King Cobra driver Tiger Woods used to decimate the field at the 1997 Masters provided him with a driving average of 323 yards — 25 yards longer than the next closest player that week — and the luxury of hitting no more than a 7-iron into any par 4. “He’s so long, he reduces the course to nothing,” Nicklaus said. “Absolutely nothing.” Three years later Augusta added nearly 300 yards to the layout.
17. BEAR MARKET
Stick the iconic Augusta logo on a cap, a ball marker, playing cards, even this teddy bear from 2003, and you have must-have memorabilia for even the most tightfisted of fans. (Small wonder, then, that the club peddles a reported $20 million in merchandise during tourney week.)
18. DRAMA CLUB
Remember Phil Mickelson in that prison of pines at 13 in 2010? This is the club that freed him. With a gutsy swipe of his 6-iron, Lefty threaded a gap in the trees and stuck his 209-yard approach to four feet. The club now resides in a display case in the Augusta National clubhouse, another Masters artifact for the ages.