Augusta National Golf Club, one of the most famous golf clubs in the world was officially opened on this day. The club is known as the home of The Masters Tournament which started the following year. The course itself was the brainchild of prodigy Bobby Jones.
The club opened in December but formally opened on January 13th 1933. By special invitation brought scores of Northern and Eastern sportsmen to Augusta National to seek Jones’ golfer paradise.
Jess Sweetser and 1913 U.S. Open Champion Francis Ouimet were on hand as “scarlet-clad pickaninies welcomed guest with red capped caddies welcoming golfers.”
Bobby Jones, Allister Mackenzie, Clifford Roberts…
Bobby Jones had peaked in golf by age 28 winning the “Grand Slam” in 1930. Many wondered what he would set his sights on next. It was around July of 1931 when newspapers like the New York Times were pumping out headlines like “Bobby Jones to build dream course”.
“Jones to build an ultimate golfers test in Augusta”. All in the same, Augusta National was a highly touted golf course even before it broke ground merely because of the individuals involved.
His friend Clifford Roberts, a New York City investment dealer, knew of Jones’s desire, became aware of a promising property for sale in Augusta, Georgia, where Jones’s mother-in-law had grown up, and informed Jones about it.
Jones first visited Fruitlands, an Augusta arboretum and indigo plantation since the Civil War era, in the spring of 1930, and he purchased it for $70,000 in 1931, with the plan to design a golf course on the site.
Jones co-designed the Augusta National course with Alister MacKenzie; the new club opened in early 1933. He founded the Masters Tournament, first played at Augusta in March 1934.
The new tournament, originally known as the Augusta National Invitational, was an immediate success, and attracted most of the world’s top players right from its start.
Jones came out of retirement to play, essentially on an exhibition basis, and his presence guaranteed enormous media attention, boosting the new tournament’s fame.
The second shot at the 11th, all of the 12th, and the first two shots at the 13th hole at Augusta are nicknamed “Amen Corner”. This term was first used in print by author Herbert Warren Wind in his April 21, 1958, Sports Illustrated article about the Masters that year
The main driveway leading from Washington Road to the course’s clubhouse is called Magnolia Lane. The lane is flanked on either side by 60 magnolia trees, each grown from seeds planted by the Berckmans family in the 1850s.
Magnolia Lane is 330 yards (300 m) long and was paved in 1947. There were formerly 61 trees along the road, but a severe thunderstorm on April 4, 2011, the night before practice day, felled one of the 61 magnolia trees
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. This is also the location that Roberts committed suicide by gunshot in 1977.
Also known as the “Eisenhower Pine”, a loblolly pine was located on the 17th hole, approximately 210 yards (192 m) from the Masters 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.
In February 2014, the Eisenhower Tree was removed after suffering extensive damage during an ice storm.