When Rory McIlroy hooked his drive off No. 10 tee in last year’s final round, television viewers got a glimpse of an area rarely seen during a Masters Tournament telecast: the small cluster of cabins in the pines lining the left side of the hole.
Most golf fans were not even aware the cabins existed, and even McIlroy spoke to their relative obscurity after taking a look this week at the place where his dreams of a Green Jacket in 2011 started to die.
“I can’t believe how close those cabins are,” McIlroy said with a chuckle. “They are only 50 yards off the tee.”
The cabins are a reflection of the Augusta National ethos, modest yet comfortable retreats where members and their guests stay when they come to the Club to play golf or to attend the Masters.
There are 10 cabins on the Augusta grounds. Some are two-story and others just one. All are painted white, and they house two or four bedrooms apiece. Seven of the cabins form a semicircle east of No. 10 fairway, where McIlroy hit his errant drive, and three stand alone. Each cabin bears a name with the most notable being Butler Cabin, site of the Green Jacket ceremony broadcast by CBS Sports at the conclusion of every Masters.
Three of the other cabins are named Jones, Roberts and Eisenhower, after the two Augusta National founders, Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, and the former U.S. President and longtime Club member Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Eisenhower, naturally, resided in the cabin that bore his name. It was built in 1953, while Eisenhower was president, and, at his insistence, was used by other members when he was not at the Club.
Eisenhower Cabin, which sits prominently beside No. 10 tee, is immediately distinguished from the others at Augusta by the gilded eagle that adorns the pediment. A spacious porch with four rocking chairs looks out on the practice putting green. The building has three floors, with a pair of bedrooms on each of the top two floors, and a basement space that was used by the Secret Service whenever Eisenhower was in town.
All these years later, the Eisenhower Cabin is an entrancing time capsule.
A trove of family mementos remains in place, including small, framed photographs of homes in which Eisenhower and his wife, Mamie, lived over the years, in places as far ranging as Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Paris, France; and the Panama Canal Zone. The White House, too. Given his itinerant life as a military commander, followed by his years in Washington, Eisenhower went decades without feeling as if he had a proper home. Augusta National came to fill that role for him and the first lady.
The cabin has a small kitchen and a spacious living room, where a card table speaks to another traditional passion of Augusta National members – bridge. The dining room sports a sweeping view of Ike’s Pond and the Par 3 Course in back. A photograph shows Ike and Mamie walking together outside the cabin, and an oil painting he made of the par-3 No. 16 hole hangs above a fireplace. There is also a solarium, in which a photograph on the wall shows former Secretary of State George Shultz and National Security Adviser Robert “Bud” McFarlane with President Ronald Reagan, who had come to the club to play golf. Taken in that very room in 1983, it records the moment when a pajama-clad commander-in-chief gave the go-ahead for the U.S. invasion of Grenada.
Artifacts like this make Ike’s Cabin a fascinating place to visit. It would be an even better place to stay.