In celebration of the upcoming Masters tournament, and our famed Masters Week at Harbor Club on Lake Oconee, we wanted to share some fun facts regarding the event. Just an hour away from us, Augusta National Golf Club is the famous site for the Masters. Believe it or not, 2016 marks the 80th year of the tournament, one of the biggest golf championships in the world. With so many years of rich history, there are plenty of interesting facts to share, some of which will surprise you.
- The club was conceived by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts. They took a $70,000 option on a 365-acre property called Fruitland Nurseries in Augusta, Georgia.
- The Masters Tournament was called the “Augusta National Invitational” for the first five years, from 1934-1938.
- “The Masters” was coined by Clifford Roberts in 1938 and utilized starting in 1939. But get this — Bobby Jones was never a fan! Up until 1963, he would reference the tournament as “the so-called Masters.”
A powerful Eisenhower connection
- Avid golfer Dwight (Ike) Eisenhower is the only U.S. president to have been a club member.
- Ike’s Pond is named after President Eisenhower as is The Eisenhower Cabin. The cabin was built according to strict Secret Service security guidelines.
- The famous Eisenhower Tree formerly guarded the left side of the 17th fairway. The president hit it so often that he requested to have it cut down. He was overruled.
- The Eisenhower Tree was removed after suffering damage during an ice storm in February 2014. Two grafts and a seedling from the famous 80-year old loblolly pine were preserved.
- In 1942, the club was closed so that turkey and cattle could be raised on the Augusta National grounds to help with World War II efforts. In 1943 there were over 200 cattle and 1,400 turkeys grazing that land.
- Augusta was supposed to have a 19th hole at the request of Bobby Jones. His idea was to give a losing golfer another chance to win back his money in a game of double or nothing. It was supposed to be 90-yards long, uphill towards the clubhouse between the 9th and 18th greens. The plan was dropped due to expense, and the fact that it would impede the view to the 18th green for patrons.
- Contrary to popular belief, the azaleas are not iced to prevent them from blooming too soon.
The green jacket
- The tradition of members wearing green jackets began in 1937 when jackets were to be used as “usher’s coats’ so patrons would be able to easily spot members if they needed to ask questions. Members also wore them at the club so that waiters would know who would be paying the bill.
- In 1949, the first green jacket was awarded as a prize to that year’s Masters champion, Sam Snead.
- Six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus never had his own tailored green jacket until 1998, when the club learned of the mistake and immediately corrected it.
- For past champions and members alike, the jacket can only be worn at the club. The current Masters champion is the only owner of a green jacket permitted to remove it from the grounds of Augusta National, and only for a period of one year, at which point he comes back to defend his title.
- An authentic 1960’s green jacket was recently discovered in a Houston thrift store’s donation box. The thrift store sold the esteemed jacket for an undisclosed amount.
- On the open market, a genuine green jacket could bring in as much as $50,000.
- Horton Smith’s jacket, awarded for his wins in 1934 and 1936, sold at auction in September 2013 for over $682,000. It was the highest price ever paid for a piece of golf memorabilia.
- The Masters was the first tournament to:
- host a 72-hole competition over four days
- be covered nationwide on radio
- to use bleachers
- use rope galleries
- use private detectives to handle ticket sales and security
- develop and use an on-course scoreboard
- use the over/under par system (which is the same one we all use today.)
- When it was televised for the first time in 1956, all CBS stations within a 200-mile radius of the club were blacked out from showing the tournament to help with ticket sales. The blackout was lifted in 1969.
- In 1975, Lee Elder became the first African-American to play in the Masters.
- Ron Townsend became the first African-American member in 1990.
- Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore became the first female members in 2012.
- As of this writing, a female golfer has yet to compete in a Masters tournament.
- According to an Augusta caddie, one member liked to walk his dog on the course in the morning. When he was told he couldn’t do so because his dog was not a member, he resolved the problem by paying the guest fee — for his dog!
This year, the Masters will be held from April 7 to April 10. This 80th year celebration is expected to draw record crowds. Here’s how you can avoid all those people, but still get in the Masters spirit: Take advantage of our exceptional Masters Week Special at Harbor Club on Lake Oconee! Our course is the inspired vision of four-time Masters runner-up Tom Weiskopf and his renown design partner, Jay Morrish. Golf Week even awarded Harbor Club golf course as one of the “Top 4 Places to Play in the State of Georgia.” So during Master’s week plan a comfortable stay in Greensboro and eat, drink and play at Harbor Club. You’ll be glad you did.