Augusta National Golf Club was founded by Bobby Jones, the legendary amateur champion, and Clifford Roberts, an astute investment banker in New York. Jones helped design the golf course, working alongside the esteemed British architect Dr. Alister Mackenzie. Jones's popularity within the game helped attract golf's biggest stars to the Masters, beginning with the inaugural event in 1934. Roberts oversaw innumerable details of the Tournament. He tirelessly sought to refine the Masters experience for the patrons and competitors and the wider world of golf. Following are short bios of each man's life.
Robert Tyre (Bobby) Jones, Jr., was born on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1902, in Atlanta, Georgia. As an amateur golfer, Jones dominated the game from the early 1920s through 1930. Jones won 13 major championships between 1923 - 1930. His record includes five U. S. Amateur Championships, one British Amateur Championship, four U.S. Open Championships and three British Open Championships. In 1926, he was the first man ever to win the Open Championship of each country in the same year.
In 1930, Jones accomplished the unprecedented feat of winning golf's Grand Slam by capturing the British Amateur on the Old Course at St. Andrews, the British Open at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England, the U.S. Open at Interlachen Country Club in Minneapolis, and the U.S. Amateur at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. In 11 of the last 12 Open Championships he played—nine U.S. Opens and three British Opens— he finished first or second. Jones retired from competitive golf in 1930 at age 28. He came out of retirement only to play annually at the Masters. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974, three years after his death.
Off the course, Jones designed golf clubs; wrote four books, including Bobby Jones on Golf; penned hundreds of newspaper articles; and gave instructional performances in several movies. He helped found and make successful the Masters Tournament and Augusta National Golf Club, where he was named President in 1933 and remains President in Perpetuity.
Jones excelled academically as well. He studied engineering at Georgia Tech, earning a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering, and then completed a B.A. in English literature at Harvard. He later entered Emory University to pursue a degree in law, passing the bar exam after his first year of school.
He was married to the former Mary Malone and together they had three children, Clara Malone; Robert T., III; and Mary Ellen. Jones died in 1971 of the spinal disease syringomyelia at age 69.
Clifford Roberts was born on a farm in Morning Sun, Iowa, in 1894. An astute investment banker, Roberts made his mark on Wall Street as a Partner with Reynolds & Company.
He was the co-founder with Bobby Jones of Augusta National Golf Club. Roberts served as Chairman of Augusta National from 1931 through 1976 and was named Chairman in Memoriam after his death in 1977. He was Chairman of the Masters Tournament from 1934 through 1976.
Under his direction, the Masters made numerous innovations that are now commonplace in golf. He changed the locations of perimeter mounds to improve gallery viewing. He was the first to use a series of Leader Boards placed throughout the course. He also devised a system for showing the cumulative score of each player—red numbers for under par, a green zero for par, and green numbers for over par. Roberts played a key role in the first Masters television broadcast on CBS, in 1956, and in many thereafter, working closely with the network.
It was Roberts who in 1948 invited General Dwight Eisenhower to visit Augusta National and who would later become a political and financial advisor to the President. Eisenhower became an active member of the Club.
During his lifetime, Roberts received many awards and honors, including service on the PGA Advisory Committee from its inception in 1943 until his death, appointment by the USGA to serve on the Bob Jones Award Selection Committee, and enshrinement in the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1978. He was the author of The Story of the Augusta National Golf Club, published in 1976, and a subject of The Making of the Masters: Cliff Roberts, Augusta National, and Golf's Most Prestigious Tournament, published in 1999.
Looking to provide a service to the game, Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts decided to host an annual tournament at Augusta National, the Club they co-founded in 1933. They made the final decision at a meeting in New York at the office of Club member W. Alton Jones. Roberts proposed that the event be called the Masters Tournament, but Jones objected, considering it presumptuous. The name Augusta National Invitation Tournament was adopted, and the title was used for five years until 1939 when Jones relented and the name was officially changed to the Masters. Another early issue was whether Jones would play in the Tournament or serve as an official. Jones preferred not to compete, but the Club's members persuaded him to join the field. In the 12 Masters he played, his best finish was 13th in 1934.
Many innovative policies Jones and Roberts started early on remain in place today. These include: playing 18 holes on each of four days instead of 36 holes on the third and final day, as was standard at the time; eliminating qualifying rounds; and denying permission for anyone except players and caddies to be inside the playing area. Also, the Club provided a complimentary pairing sheet and a spectator booklet, and limited commercialization of the Tournament in any form.
The first Masters began on March 22, 1934, and was won by Horton Smith. In the fall of that year, the course’s two nines were reversed. Beginning in 1940, the Masters was scheduled each year during the first full week in April. The most famous shot ever made at the Masters happened in 1935 when Gene Sarazen holed a four-wood approach from 235 yards out for a double eagle on the par-five 15th hole. Sarazen went on to tie Craig Wood and force a 36-hole playoff the following day, which Sarazen won by five strokes. In 1942, Byron Nelson defeated Ben Hogan, 69-70, in an 18-hole playoff. The Masters was not played the following three years during the war. To assist the war effort, cattle and turkeys were raised on the Augusta National grounds.
The 1950s brought two victories by Ben Hogan, and the first of four for Arnold Palmer. Palmer’s 1958 win began the tradition of Amen Corner. In 1960, the Par 3 Contest was begun, and in 1966 Jack Nicklaus became the first Masters champion to defend his title successfully. During the 1970s, the two founders of the Masters Tournament passed away. Both Jones and Roberts left indelible impressions on the Masters and on the world of golf. The following decade, Spaniard Seve Ballesteros won twice and Tom Watson prevailed for his second title. In 1986, at age 46, Nicklaus surged to his record sixth Green Jacket. And in 1997, Tiger Woods broke the Tournament’s four-day scoring record, which had stood for 32 years. At the 2001 Masters, Woods won his fourth consecutive professional major, and in 2002 he became only the third player to win consecutive Masters titles, after Nicklaus and Nick Faldo. In 2005, Woods became the third person to win at least four Masters.
Upon his retirement from championship golf in 1930, Bobby Jones had hoped to realize his dream of building a golf course. Following a brief conversation with Clifford Roberts, with whom Jones had met several times during the mid-1920s, it was decided the club would be built near Augusta, Georgia, provided a suitable piece of ground was available. According to Jones' plans, the course would utilize the natural advantages of the property and use mounds rather than too many bunkers. It was hoped the property would have a natural creek to use as a water hazard. Jones wanted this concept of golf course architecture to make a contribution to the game as well as give expression to his ideas about golf course design. This club would be open during the winter season only.
A mutual friend of Jones and Roberts, Thomas Barrett, Jr., was consulted and recommended a 365-acre property called Fruitland Nurseries. Once an indigo plantation, it was purchased in 1857 by Belgian Baron Louis Mathieu Edouard Berckmans who was a horticulturist by hobby. Berckmans' son, Prosper Julius Alphonse, was an agronomist and horticulturist by profession and the two formed a partnership in 1858. Operating under the name Fruitland Nurseries, the company imported many trees and plants from various countries. The Baron died in 1883. Prosper's death followed in 1910 and the nursery ceased operations by the time its charter expired in 1918. A great variety of flowering plants and trees, including a long row of magnolias which were planted before the Civil War and a plant Prosper popularized called the azalea, remained on the property.
Upon seeing the property from what is now the practice putting green, Jones said, "Perfect! And to think this ground has been lying here all these years waiting for someone to come along and lay a golf course on it."
An option was taken on the property for $70,000. It was decided to establish a national membership for the club, and Jones proposed Augusta National would be an appropriate name. Jones also decided in the planning stage that he wanted Dr. Alister Mackenzie of Scotland to serve as the course architect since the pair held similar views. Before coming to Augusta, Mackenzie had designed two courses in California, Pasatiempo and Cypress Point. Mackenzie died in January 1934, two months before the first Tournament.
Construction on the new course began in the first half of 1931 and the course opened in December 1932 with a limited amount of member play. Formal opening took place in January 1933.
Sterling Replica of Masters Trophy
The permanent Masters Trophy, which depicts the Clubhouse, was introduced in 1961. It was made in England and consists of over 900 separate pieces of silver. The trophy rests on a pedestal, and bands of silver provide space to engrave the name of the winner and runner-up. In 1993, a Sterling replica of the permanent Masters trophy was first awarded to the champion, along with the Gold Medal.
- Name engraved on permanent Masters Trophy which remains at Club
- Sterling Replica of Masters Trophy
- Gold Medal
- Green Jacket
Champions also receive a gold medallion (3.4 inches in diameter, 2.3 ounces) featuring a view of the Founders Circle in front of the Clubhouse.
- Name engraved on permanent Masters Trophy which remains at Club
- Silver Medal
- Silver Salver
Since 1951, the runner-up also receives a 1.7 ounce silver medallion showing the Clubhouse from the Founders Circle off Magnolia Lane. It is the same size as the winner's gold medallion.
In 1952, the Masters began presenting the low amateur with an award for his performance. In order to receive the award, the amateur must make the 36-hole cut.
The low amateur runner-up began receiving an award in 1954.
Beginning in 1954, participants could qualify for additional awards for outstanding feats during the Tournament. These were the first awards.
Day's Low Score: Crystal Vase
Hole-in-One: Large Crystal Bowl
Eagle: Crystal Goblets
During the first round of the 1967 Tournament, Bruce Devlin made a double eagle on hole No. 8. This was the first double eagle since Gene Sarazen’s on No. 15 in 1935. Clifford Roberts announced that a special trophy was ordered for Devlin, a large crystal bowl, but one would first be delivered to Gene Sarazen.
Large Crystal Bowl
At the beginning of 2011, Augusta National Golf Club and Masters Tournament Chairman Billy Payne announced the formation of the Masters Tournament Foundation – a charitable extension of the Tournament designed to annually invest in development programs for the game of golf worldwide.
Said Payne, "The establishment of the Masters Tournament Foundation is central to fulfilling our responsibility of supporting the game's continuous growth around the world," Payne said. "This tradition, shaped by our Founders Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, is the cornerstone of the Foundation's important commitment."
The Foundation now serves as the vehicle whereby the Masters will further support its golf development goals and reach a broader audience. Efforts already include the creation of the Junior Pass Program, televising the Par 3 Contest, advancement of digital technology offerings on Masters.com, the co-founding of the Asian Amateur Championship and sustained significant monetary contributions to The First Tee and major golf organizations around the world.
In addition to the creation of this Foundation, Payne also announced that 100 percent of Augusta National's proceeds from its inclusion in EA Sports' next iteration of its award-winning golf franchise Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters will be contributed to the newly created Foundation. The Masters will be released in the United States on March 29, worldwide on April 1.