The Making of the Masters: Clifford Roberts, Augusta National, and Golf's Most Prestigious Tournament

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0684869403

"The moment I decided to leave him, the moment I thought, enough, we were thirty-five thousand feet above the ocean, hurtling forward but giving the illusion of stillness and tranquility. Just like our marriage." So opens Meg Wolitzer's compelling and provocative novel The Wife, as Joan Castleman sits beside her husband on their flight to Helsinki. Joan's husband, Joseph Castleman, is "one of those...

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Overview

0684869403

"The moment I decided to leave him, the moment I thought, enough, we were thirty-five thousand feet above the ocean, hurtling forward but giving the illusion of stillness and tranquility. Just like our marriage." So opens Meg Wolitzer's compelling and provocative novel The Wife, as Joan Castleman sits beside her husband on their flight to Helsinki. Joan's husband, Joseph Castleman, is "one of those men who own the world...who has no idea how to take care of himself or anyone else, and who derives much of his style from the Dylan Thomas Handbook of Personal Hygiene and Etiquette." He is also one of America's preeminent novelists, about to receive a prestigious international award to honor his accomplishments, and Joan, who has spent forty years subjugating her own literary talents to fan the flames of his career, has finally decided to stop.

From this gripping opening, Wolitzer flashes back fifty years to 1950s Smith College and Greenwich Village -- the beginning of the Castleman relationship -- and follows the course of the famous marriage that has brought them to this breaking point, culminating in a shocking ending that outs a carefully kept secret.

Wolitzer's most important and ambitious book to date, The Wife is a wise, sharp-eyed, compulsively readable story about a woman forced to confront the sacrifices she's made in order to achieve the life she thought she wanted. But it's also an unusually candid look at the choices all men and women make for themselves, in marriage, work, and life. With her skillful storytelling and pitch-perfect observations, Wolitzer invites intriguing questions about the nature of partnership and the precarious position of an ambitious woman in a man's world.

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Editorial Reviews

Mike Snider
David Owen's The Making of the Masters will leave golfers green with envy, as most of us are more likely to get a hole-in-one than visit the club, let alone join it.... Owen had access to Augusta National's archives, including previously lost or unknown letters. The book has color shots of every hole, with comparable black-and-white pictures from the '30s.
USA Today
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Revered today as the most prestigious and tradition-rich tournament in American golf, the Masters, like the Augusta National Golf Club at which it is played, sprang from humble beginnings. As every ardent golf fan knows, Augusta National was the brainchild of legendary golfer Bobby Jones Jr., who teamed with stockbroker Cliff Roberts to build what is considered to be the cathedral of American golf courses on the site of a former flower nursery in Georgia. What is less well known is that financial problems nearly prevented the course from ever being built, and that Roberts conceived of the Masters as a way to promote the club, which was having trouble attracting members during the Depression. In describing the growth of the tournament, New Yorker staff writer Owen (My Usual Game) centers his story on Roberts, the hard-driving "benevolent dictator" who served as chairman of both the Masters and Augusta National from their inception until he committed suicide in 1971 at age 77. Owen portrays the often controversial Roberts in the most favorable light possible. In particular, he defends the Masters' (and by extension Roberts's) record of not having the first black golfer participate in the tournament until Lee Elder broke the barrier in 1975. Indeed, Owen treats everything connected with Roberts and the Masters in reverential terms, dismissing critics as ill informed. Despite this shortcoming, Owen has unearthed enough details and colorful anecdotes about the tournament and its players--both on the course and behind the scenes--to make this nearly irresistible reading for devoted golfers and weekend duffers. Photos not seen by PW.
Library Journal
Founded by golf legend Bobby Jones and his friend Cliff Roberts, the Masters has been held annually at the Augusta National Golf Club (GA) since 1934. Owen, a staff writer for The New Yorker and a contributing editor for Golf Digest, adeptly recounts the history of the tournament many consider golf's premier event. Although Jones has generally been given much of the credit for the tournament, Roberts was actually the driving force behind its creation and ultimate development into a major sports event. Often portrayed by golf historians as an uncompromising perfectionist, Roberts is here given a much more balanced treatment. Referring to archival material and the memories of club members, Owen dispels many of the popular myths about both Roberts and the tournament. Owen is also the author of My Usual Game: Adventures in Golf(Main Street, 1996). Recommended for all public libraries.--Peter Ward, Lindenhurst Memorial Lib., West Islip, NY
Jaime Diaz
...Owen...used a more rigid standard than previous books....Everyone who is quoted is named....within these boundaries, Owen is remarkably complete. He presens convincing rebuttals to...tales of Roberts at his most arbitrary and abusive....Roberts is humanized.
The New York Times Book Review
The New Yorker
...Owen, in this lively history, cheerfully debunks cherished legends...
Kirkus Reviews
An involving and thorough look at pro golf's crown jewel and the driven individual who created it. Clifford Roberts, the martinet co-founder and chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, pursued his vision of excellence with a single-mindedness that would have impressed Captain Ahab. As Owen (My Usual Game, 1995) tells it, however, there was a more human side to the Masters' steely cynosure. Tracing Roberts's childhood during the financially unsteady 1890s and his coming-of-age in the Roaring '20s, Owen reveals the emotional underpinnings of a man best known as a control freak. The son of an impractical father and a chronically ill mother, Roberts learned early how to do things for himself. In New York during the heady 1920s, he quickly insinuated himself into a fast crowd on Wall Street, where his passion for golf cemented many important business and personal relationships. One crucial bond was with the immortal Georgia-bred golfer Robert Jones, to whom Owen credits the idea for the course; the rest, he contends, was Roberts's doing. In 1931, Jones and Roberts acquired property near Augusta, Ga., with the latter securing financing and arranging construction. At first, owing to the Depression, Augusta National foundered. Before long, however, the club established itself, mostly as a result of the Masters' growing prominence. The tournament is unique among tour majors in being run by a private club rather than a national body, which enabled Roberts and his successors to impose their high standards on every element, from the contestants' attire to the amount and type of broadcast advertising. While severe, this regimentation has created an event beloved by all. This sort of warmth arisingfrom a cold adherence to discipline, Owen suggests, was the very core of Roberts's personality. Yes, he craved control, but he also was warm, generous, and loyal; former employees interviewed fondly recall Roberts's fairness and genuine concern for their welfare. A most enjoyable, and surprisingly moving portrait of a man and the institution he crafted in his own image. (32 pages color photos, not seen) (Author to ur)
From the Publisher
Jaime Diaz New York Times Book Review Owen accomplishes something...important and long overdue in this sometimes revelatory work — Clifford Roberts is humanized.

The Wall Street Journal Owen makes us wish we had known Roberts, if only to judge him for ourselves — no small achievement. He writes beautifully...meandering through the familiar byways, enveloping us in the Augusta-ness of it all.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684857299
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 4/1/1999
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.58 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

David Owen plays in a weekly foursome, takes mulligans off the first tee, practices intermittently at best, wore a copper wristband because Steve Ballesteros said so, and struggles for consistency even though his swing is consistent — just mediocre. He is a staff writer for The New Yorker, a contributing editor to Golf Digest, and a frequent contributor to The Atlantic Monthly. His other books include The First National Bank of Dad, The Chosen One, The Making of the Masters, and My Usual Game. He lives in Washington, Connecticut.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Benevolent Dictator


The modern golf season never ends, but it does begin. When the first contestant tees off at Augusta National Golf Club on Thursday morning during Masters week, golfers all over the world reset their internal clocks. The first page in a golfer's calendar is April.

    For the world's best players, the Masters divides one season's aspirations from another's. Success at the highest levels on tour means recognition, money, autograph requests, endorsements, exemptions--and an invitation to Augusta. As the first full week of April draws near, players who have not yet qualified for invitations juggle their schedules to maximize their chances, and television commentators count down the tournaments remaining. When the Masters begins, every competitor has a theoretical chance of matching Bobby Jones's unduplicated feat of winning all four major tournaments in one year; when the Masters ends, the Grand Slam field has shrunk to one.

    For tournament spectators, the Masters is an annual reunion where the passage of time is measured not in years but in the names of champions. The principal viewing areas have the settled feel of old neighborhoods; the course is as familiar as a friend's backyard. In countless gatherings beneath the pine trees, acquaintances are renewed and records are brought up to date: deaths, marriages, children, grandchildren, new houses, old jobs. The dogwood blossoms are compared with the dogwood blossoms of previous years. A rebuilt green is examined and approved. Two veterans discuss the careers of Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer--and then Sam Snead and Arnold Palmer walk by. A guest once said, "I rode here in the front seat and will be in the back seat going out so I can stay as long as I can."

    For distant golf fans, the first glimpse of Amen Corner on TV is proof that winter is gone. Northerners who haven't swung a club since Halloween scrounge an old ball from the garage and roll a few wobbly putts across the family room carpet during commercials. A swirling gray New England sky stops looking like a vestige of December and begins to seem like a harbinger of spring. The hours crawl from Saturday evening till Sunday afternoon. Meetings and social engagements are ignored or rescheduled; no avid golfer was ever married on Masters weekend. In 1987, two fans from Olympia Fields, Illinois, named their new daughter Tori Augusta National.

    For sportswriters, the Masters is the plum assignment of the year. It is the first trip entered in a reporter's appointment book, and it is written in ink. Journalists take the Masters personally. Herbert Warren Wind, The New Yorker's incomparable golf correspondent for many years, once stopped another reporter upon arriving in Augusta's airport and anxiously inquired about the state of the greens: "Are they firm?" Senior golf writers postpone hip replacements and cataract operations until just after the tournament, giving themselves a full fifty weeks to recover.

    For nongolfers, the Masters is the one tournament of the year that compels attention. Over breakfast on Sunday morning, a golfer's non-playing spouse may suddenly offer an informed observation about the chances of Faldo, Couples, or Woods--the result of an hour's seduction by the sports page or the TV. The beauty of the setting makes one's love for golf comprehensible to the game's antagonists. For four days, the national flower is the azalea.

    Gary Player once said, "The Masters is the only tournament I ever knew where you choke when you drive through the front gate." The trip down Magnolia Lane may be the most dreamed about entrance in sports. Although the Masters is not ancient as golf goes, no contest runs deeper in the imaginations of participants. Sam Snead says, "If you asked golfers what tournament they would rather win over all the others, I think every one of them to a man would say the Masters." Late at night after Tiger Woods's record-breaking victory in 1997, Earl Woods looked in on his son and found him curled up in bed, asleep with a smile on his face, his arms wrapped around his green jacket.


The Masters is unique among major tournaments in that it is conducted not by a national golf organization but by a private club. Two dozen committees headed by club members assume responsibility for everything from the placement of the holes to the pricing of the barbecued pork sandwiches in the concession stands. A member who may squeeze in only a week or two of golf in Augusta for himself in a typical year may spend another week or two wrestling with parking allocations, entertainment for international reporters, or the placement of public telephones. The tournament shortens by a week an already abbreviated playing season, and it does so at the most beautiful time of the year. The course is closed from late May until early October, a period when summer heat threatens the turf, and it receives little play during January and February, months when the weather is chilly, wet, and unpredictable. In March, the members share the course with crews erecting scoreboards, spectator stands, concession tents, and television towers. In early April, they vacate their clubhouse and turn their dining room into a commissary. In late May, they surrender the course again, this time to tournament volunteers, club employees, caddies, and other friends of the club, who close the golf season with a week-long party.

    The prestige of the Masters has made the club's green blazer the most coveted adornment in golf--so much so that a modern golf fan has difficulty imagining that neither the club nor the tournament was a foreordained success. Founded at the beginning of the Great Depression, the club faced financial ruin repeatedly during its first fifteen years. As the club was being formed in 1931, the first business plan called for 1,800 members, each of whom would pay dues of sixty dollars a year. Three years later, as the first Masters got underway, the club was 1,724 members short of that goal. The Masters, which began in 1934 as the Augusta National Invitation Tournament, was recognized from the start as an exceptionally well-run event--Time that year described it as "a new golfing institution and a new competition, rivaling even the U.S. Open in importance, far surpassing it in atmosphere"--but it remained an economic burden for years. The club couldn't afford to pay the first winner, Horton Smith, or any of the other top finishers until seventeen members chipped in the purse. The winner in 1946, Herman Keiser, had to be told that his plaque would be along shortly, just as soon as the club could come up with the silver.

    The club survived those early adversities because of the perseverance of its two founders: Clifford Roberts and Robert Tyre "Bobby" Jones, Jr. They were, respectively, Augusta National's first chairman and its only president. (In 1966, five years before his death, the club declared Jones "president in perpetuity," and no successor has ever been named.) They are commemorated by a pair of bronze plaques set in the ground at the base of the flagpole in front of the clubhouse. The modesty of the memorial, which is known as the Founders Circle, would have pleased both men: Jones loved Augusta National in part because for him it was a refuge from celebrity; Roberts was proud of what he and his friend had created but was an enemy of ostentation.

    It is usually said that Jones conceived of the club and Roberts financed it, but one could argue that the roles were reversed--that without Jones's immense popularity the enterprise would never have attracted enough financial support to survive, and that without the vision and stubborn determination of Roberts the club would have folded and the Augusta National Invitation Tournament would never have grown into the modern Masters. Roberts said in later years that if he and Jones had known at the outset how long the Depression was going to last, they would never have had the nerve to proceed. He was not exaggerating. On several occasions, they came close to giving up. The final decision to build the course was made early in 1932 with deep trepidation and after months of wavering. By late 1935, eight months after Gene Sarazen had seemingly secured the future of the tournament by hitting "the shot heard round the world," his monumental double-eagle on fifteen, the club's situation was so dire that its lenders actually foreclosed.


* * *


In historical accounts of the club and the tournament, Jones has always overshadowed Roberts. That is as Roberts would have wished it; Augusta National, in his view, was Jones's club, and the Masters was Jones's tournament. But they were Jones's in large measure because Roberts made them that way. Jones was always involved in important decisions, especially during the early years, and his influence went far beyond consultation, since the easiest way to describe Roberts's conception of the Masters is to say that his goal was to put on a tournament worthy of its association with Jones. But Roberts was almost always the man behind the curtain, and he pursued the job with a dedication that sometimes gave others pause. In 1956, while hospitalized in New York after suffering a heart attack, he asked a secretary to send him a list of the previous year's Masters committee assignments. As the secretary later recounted with wonder in a letter to Jones, Roberts was bored and wanted to turn his mind to a subject that he said would relax him. Kathryn Murphy, who worked as his secretary on tournament matters from 1962 until he retired in 1976, kept a stenographer's pad next to the phone by her bed at home, because there was no telling at what hour Roberts might call to dictate a letter. Byron Nelson says, "This place was his bride."

    The partnership of Jones and Roberts was as unlikely as it was successful. "They were as different as day and night," Sam Snead says, "but, you know, that's the type that get along." At the time of the club's founding, Jones was the most beloved athlete in the world. In 1930, at the age of twenty-eight, he had conquered what George Trevor of the New York Sun called "the impregnable quadrilateral of golf"--the British and U.S. Amateur championships and the British and U.S. Opens. He had been honored with two New York City ticker tape parades and had retired from competition. He was "the model American athlete come to life," according to Herbert Warren Wind, who wrote, "Everybody adored him--not just dyed-in-the-wool golfers, but people who had never struck a golf ball or had the least desire to. They admired the ingrained modesty, the humor, the generosity of spirit that were evident in Jones's remarks and deportment. They liked the way he looked, this handsome, clean cut young man, whose eyes gleamed with both a frank boyishness and a perceptiveness far beyond his years."

    Roberts in 1930 was a pragmatic and frequently grim-faced thirty-six-year-old Wall Street stockbroker and speculator who had taken a beating in the Crash of 1929. He knew all about hardship, having grown up on the edges of poverty in a dozen small towns in Iowa, Kansas, California, Oklahoma, and Texas. His family moved so often during his childhood that Roberts in later years said he doubted he could readily name all the places where he had lived as a boy. "No sooner would I become acquainted with a few companions," he wrote in a letter in 1967, "[than] I would be moved to an altogether different place and sometimes quite a different one." His life was hard, but he met it squarely. At the age of ten, he walked home nearly four miles rather than work all day for fifty cents when he had been promised seventy-five. He dug potatoes for money to buy schoolbooks, and he helped care for his younger siblings when his mother who suffered from a variety of ailments and eventually committed suicide--could not get out of bed. His last completed year of school was eighth grade. He farmed, sold dry goods, worked in an oyster house in Texas, took a three-week course in shorthand and other clerical skills, and managed a failing orchard. At the age of twenty-three, having worked for several years as a traveling salesman of men's clothing based in Kansas City, he went to New York to escape the world in which he had grown up.

    Jones and Roberts met through mutual friends in the mid-twenties. Jones was already a celebrity and a hero, and Roberts, despite some growing success in the investment world, was still at heart an awestruck country boy. For Jones, Roberts was at first a congenial acquaintance--a friend of friends who enjoyed sharing a drink and a funny story in a clubhouse grill. During at least one such gathering, Jones spoke of a wish to build in the South a golf course that would reflect his ideas about the game. Roberts one day suggested Augusta, Georgia--a city with which both men were familiar. Jones agreed to the plan, Roberts later wrote, "but with a stipulation that I agree to look after the financing."

    Jones trusted Roberts with his idea because he believed that Roberts could carry it out. Roberts, despite his relative youth, exuded confidence and competence to an extraordinary degree. Byron Nelson says, "Of all the executives I have known, Cliff was the best. He listened, and he would take what people said and turn it over in his mind and decide whether or not it was a good idea. Then he would follow through and find the right people to get the job done." Herbert Warren Wind once called Roberts "a relentless perfectionist with one of the best minds for management and significant detail since Salmon P. Chase."* He was meticulous, methodical, and impervious to distraction. His secretary at the club would sometimes find him hunched over his desk on autumn afternoons, working in the gloom. She would flick on the lights, and he would straighten up in his chair but show no other sign of having noticed the change.


In the spring of 1931, through an acquaintance in Augusta, Roberts discovered a likely piece of property for Jones's course: a long-abandoned commercial nursery on the outskirts of town. Seeing the land for the first time was an "unforgettable" experience, Jones wrote in Golf Is My Game, which was published in 1960: "It seemed that this land had been lying here for years just waiting for someone to lay a golf course upon it. Indeed, it even looked as though it were already a golf course, and I am sure that one standing today where I stood on this first visit, on the terrace overlooking the practice putting green, sees the property almost exactly as I saw it then."

    Jones was right about the appearance of the property: If you know the course today, you can look at a hundred-year-old photograph and mentally superimpose many of the holes. In fact, you can almost make yourself believe that the thirteenth fairway is already lying beside that small stream in the distance, and that the eighteenth tee must be just out of sight, beyond that line of trees to the left.

    As for the founders, their outlines are harder to discern. Jones has been celebrated for so long and in such exalted terms that today he belongs as much to mythology as to the history of golf. Sportswriters have maintained the pious tone established by O. B. Keeler--Jones's close friend and adoring first biographer--who described his golf in biblical terms, dividing his career into "seven lean years" and "seven fat years," and was reverent even in depicting his foibles, such as the temper that had sometimes threatened to eclipse his promise. ("To the finish of my golfing days," Jones himself once wrote, "I encountered golfing emotions which could not be endured with the club still in my hands.") People who were close to Jones say that he really was the remarkable gentleman that Keeler, Wind, Paul Gallico, Charles Price, Sidney L. Matthew, and other writers portrayed him to be. But legends acquire a power of their own, and no one today can hope to see past Jones's aura to the man his drinking buddies knew. Even when he was a young man, the myth must have been in the way: Jones viewed "Bobby" almost as a stage name; he asked to be called Bob.

    Roberts is equally hard to see clearly. Among sportswriters he has been demonized to almost the same extent that Jones has been deified. He is known today mainly as the villain in a handful of classic press tent anecdotes--as a tyrant who ejected a player from the Masters for a trivial infraction, sent members bills for course improvements they had been rash enough to suggest, withdrew the memberships of men who had dared to cross him, and administered nervous breakdowns to a succession of executives at CBS, which began broadcasting the tournament on television in 1956. Most of the classic stories about Roberts contain at least a kernel of truth--he could be hard to work with, especially for anyone who wasn't used to dealing with a determined man who said exactly what he thought--but none of the stories begins to do him justice. The more grotesque tales are invariably told by people who didn't know him well, if they knew him at all; taken together, they add up to a portrait of a man who never existed.

    The misperceptions were to a great extent his own fault. He seldom spoke publicly about himself or any part of his life outside his responsibilities with the tournament and the club. In a letter to Jones in 1964, he offered one explanation for his reticence: "I have repeatedly [taken] the position that one personality, meaning yourself, was enough for any one Club." Because he nearly always turned the same blank face to the public, strangers have assumed that he was easy to comprehend. His forbidding manner, glimpsed during the tournament or on other formal occasions, invited hasty summarization: autocratic, domineering, stubborn, humorless, tyrannical, mean. All such terms obscured not only the real dimensions of his personality but also the true achievements of his life. The real Roberts is as hard to see as the real Jones.

    In 1972, the great British golf writer and television commentator Henry Longhurst--who for many years covered the Masters from a television tower beside the sixteenth green--sent Roberts a copy of his latest book, which he had inscribed to the "benevolent dictator" of Augusta National Golf Club. In acknowledging the gift, Roberts, with characteristic contrariness, objected to both terms. "Ordinarily I would not want to be classified as being benevolent," he wrote, "and I also do not wish to be called a dictator." He was joking, mostly--he concluded by telling Longhurst that "just so long as you recognize my existence, I shall always be happy for you to call me any damned thing you like"--but he was also revealing something about himself. In pursuing what he believed to be the best interests of his club and its tournament, he behaved as though he knew that a reputation for malevolence had its uses. He often seemed to encourage his chilly image; in any event, he did little to contradict it. In the photograph of himself that he selected for the dust jacket of his history of the club, he wears an expression that only a relative or intimate friend could confidently identify as a smile. He looks stern, uncomfortable, and disapproving. He is leaning away from the camera--literally increasing the distance between his reader and himself. He seems annoyed. His legs are crossed and he holds a cigarette in his right hand, but his posture conveys the opposite of ease.

    What is truly interesting about the photograph, though, is not the image it conveys but the one it conceals. The picture on the dust jacket shows Roberts only as he presented himself in public; to his friends, he turned a different face. His favorite portrait of himself--copies of which he sent to friends not long before he died--was a candid color photograph of a smiling face in profile. In it he looked like a kindly uncle. This was the Roberts his closest friends and associates knew. It was the Roberts for whom the wife of the club's steward baked pound cake, knitted an afghan, and made jars of stewed peaches. It was the Roberts who commandeered a member's private airplane in the middle of the night to transport the critically ill wife of one of the club's professionals to his own specialist in Boston. It was the Roberts whose death prompted Philip Reed, the chairman of General Electric Co., to resign his membership in the club. (Reed said he missed Roberts so much that coming back to Augusta would merely depress him.) It was the Roberts who baby-sat for and watched television with the young daughters of one of the club's employees. It was the Roberts who quietly but firmly intervened when Masters competitors underpaid their caddies. It was the Roberts who sometimes signed his letters to Jones "Much love, yours faithfully," and whom Jones remembered at Christmas one year with a homey gift of a pair of socks. It was the Roberts whom British golf writer Peter Dobereiner described in a tribute published when Roberts resigned as the chairman of the Masters Tournament Committee in 1976: "To a large degree Roberts is not the ogre he pretends to be," Dobereiner wrote in the Observer. "The style of the man, as an uncompromising dictator, hides a natural shyness and a generous spirit. He has helped many people, in large and small ways, but always by stealth, covering his traces so well that as often as not his benefaction is not even suspected. If this austere old man commands respect rather than affection, then that is by his own choice, a sacrifice he has made in the cause of his beloved Masters." And in the cause of his beloved club, which in Roberts's mind always came first. (Elsewhere in the same column, Dobereiner exactly captured what he called Roberts's "simple creed": "everything about Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters had to be the best, and if it was not the best then it would have to be improved every year until it was.")

    For decades, sportswriters who wouldn't dream of quoting a baseball score without double-checking it have felt no compunction about repeating and embellishing even the unlikeliest tales about Roberts. Indeed, he has so often been portrayed as a conniving misanthrope that few stories about him today are automatically dismissed as too outrageous to be believed. But the cartoon that so often stands in for Roberts defies credulity. If he really had been the monster that the meaner tales make him out to be, Jones would never have associated with him, friends from all over the world would not have sought and cherished his company, some of golf's most celebrated names would not credit him with having helped to build their careers, Dwight D. Eisenhower would never have reserved a White House bedroom for his exclusive use, longtime members and employees of the club would not still speak wistfully of his death, and the Masters today would be nothing more than a long-forgotten artifact of the halting early years of American competitive golf.

    The greatest human strengths and weaknesses are usually allied; they are sides of a coin. To know Roberts at his worst is easy, because he did not dissemble. To know him as he really was requires both effort and an open mind.


Roberts died in 1977. He was eighty-three years old and, like his mother more than six decades before, he was a suicide. Ill and enfeebled, he had made his way back to Augusta in a borrowed airplane so that he could end his life in the place he viewed, above all other residences, as his home.

    Although he has now been dead for more than twenty years, he is still very much in evidence at Augusta National. He is still quoted at meetings, sometimes in the present tense. His book about the club--The Story of Augusta National Golf Club, published in 1976, the year before he Died--is still the first source young staff members check when a question arises concerning the cracker barrel in the golf shop, the origin of the green jacket, or the location of the original bunker in the second fairway. Pictures at the club are still hung on two hooks, because crooked pictures drove him to distraction. The golf shop still makes change with brand-new currency, because he couldn't stand dirty bills. (He folded his bills in groups, by denomination, and he always carried enough of each kind so that no one would ever have to give him change.) He is still often referred to as Mr. Roberts, even by men who today are older than he was when he died.

    You can still hear his voice at the club: There are members, employees, and caddies who do accurate impressions, and when they quote him in a funny story they inevitably adopt his glacier-slow delivery. Roberts spoke as though he were dictating to an engraver. He silently considered any question until he had thoroughly arranged his answer. The first sound out of his mouth was usually a cough, a clearing of his throat, or "Uh," a monosyllable he was capable of drawing to narrative length. ("Cliff could say `Uh' for two days," a friend says.) Strangers sometimes interpreted his hesitation as deafness or an encouragement to restate the topic; his friends knew to wait. If Roberts was preoccupied with a club matter or a tournament detail, the wait could be considerable. A member who greeted him in passing on a sidewalk outside the clubhouse might hear his greeting returned, from a receding distance, many seconds later.

    The menu at Augusta National still reflects Roberts's simple tastes. The dishes are mostly unadorned. The enormous canned olives that he loved are still passed around before dinner. James Clark, the club's chef, no longer burns the cornbread, as he did to please Roberts, but he still serves cornbread every day. Roberts always ordered the same lunch: consommé, a grilled chicken breast sandwich on white toast, tea, a homemade cookie, white nectar peaches. Although his lunch order was unvarying, he consulted a menu before making it, and his waiter wrote everything down. A friend, joining him for lunch one day, as a joke ordered exactly what Roberts always ordered. Without blinking, Roberts said, "That sounds excellent. I'll have the same."

    The room in which Roberts usually stayed when he was at the club still looks much as it did when he was alive. It is named for him and is called a suite, but it is really just a single bedroom with a small bathroom at the far end. It looks like a hotel room, and the furniture looks like hotel room furniture. There is a bust of Arnold Palmer, who was probably Roberts's favorite golfer. (Officially, Roberts had no favorites, but in private his affection for Palmer was unsurpassed.) There is a closet in which Byron Nelson, another favorite, kept clothes between visits to the club. The only amenity is a fireplace, which Roberts was apt to light at the first rumor of a chill. (Although he loved fires, he was ambivalent about firewood; on his order, every log delivered to his hearth was first shorn of anything resembling bark.) In all weather, he kept his room warm--uncomfortably so, in the opinion of visitors. The room had two thermostats, and he would make minute adjustments in one or the other as conditions changed in ways that only he could detect.

    Members who today are old men remember crouching outside Roberts's room when they were young, hoping to catch a glimpse of the chairman through the window. If Roberts was wearing a tie, they knew he could safely be approached; if he had taken off the tie, they knew to stay away. And the mood of the chairman was the mood of the club. When Roberts arrived in Augusta from New York, John Milton, the driver who picked him up at the airport, was under standing instructions from Bowman Milligan, the club's steward, to assess his state of mind--and, if possible, to improve it. Back at the club, Milton would report his findings to Milligan, who would send a message to the course superintendent. If Roberts was in a bad mood, the grounds crew would set up the greens with easy pin positions. If Roberts was in a good mood, the holes would be cut as though for Sunday at the Masters.

    The main event each year for members of Augusta National is still the Jamboree, a springtime competition and party that Roberts viewed as more important than the Masters. He believed that the Jamboree and other members-only gatherings were the soul of the club, because they promoted a sense of fraternity without which he feared the club would not survive. He would often add members to the club's board of governors solely in the hope that the appointment would shame them into spending more time in Augusta. One such member was George B. Storer, of Miami, who didn't realize he was a governor until Roberts wrote to him in 1964 to chastise him for his failure to attend that year's meeting.

    The true purpose of Roberts's board of governors was not to run the club--Roberts mostly handled that himself -- but to provide a pool of likely participants for an autumn golf outing that happened to coincide with the board's superfluous annual meeting. The meeting seldom lasted very long. When Roberts, at the outset of one of them, asked Charles Yates, the club's secretary, what was on the agenda for the day, Yates replied, "Why, nothing at all." (At another governors meeting, Roberts asked Yates if he had the minutes, and Yates asked, "Do you mean last year's, this year's, or next year's?") Meetings with Roberts were always short. One day, a local member named William Fulcher was summoned to give advice on a legal matter. On his way out, he stopped by the bag room, which is still a good place to hear stories about Roberts. "Well, that was a damned waste," Fulcher said to Fred Bennett, the caddie master. "I could have stayed downtown."

    "You had your meeting, didn't you?" Bennett asked.

    "Yes," Fulcher said. "But when Cliff asks you a question, he answers it, too." ,

    On the second floor of the clubhouse is a comfortable library, which in the old days served as the locker room. In a cabinet on one wall is a small collection of objects associated with the former chairman. There is a bronze bust, on which a pair of bronze eyeglasses sits slightly askew, as Roberts's own glasses often did. The real glasses are in the cabinet, too, and to old friends they recall their former owner as vividly as a photograph would. Near the glasses is a gold pocket watch, which may have been Roberts's single favorite possession. He would slowly and conspicuously consult it whenever a member entered the club's dining room after eight o'clock, an hour of arrival that he felt represented an unreasonable imposition on the staff. Attached to the watch chain is a gold locket signifying his honorary membership in the most exclusive organization he ever belonged to: the Masters Club, whose members were the Masters winners, Jones, and himself. Every year or so he would send the watch back to Switzerland to be cleaned and adjusted, but he never let go of the locket.

    On a table in the library lies an old leather-bound scrapbook containing tournament photographs from 1951 and 1952. Each year, Roberts sent gifts to a long list of friends who had helped to bring off the tournament, and the scrapbook was one of those gifts. Maintaining warm relationships with supporters would help to ensure the long-term health of the Masters, Roberts believed, and he devoted a great deal of time to planning the gifts, generally beginning a year or more in advance. Among the more notable items were a tool set, a pocket secretary, and a first-aid kit, which Roberts believed to be the only decent one available in America.

    Roberts's attention to detail in planning the gifts could be dazzlingly minute. One of the gifts in 1966 was a pair of women's satin jewelry pouches. After studying prototypes in the spring of 1965, Roberts sent a detailed critique to an assistant who was handling negotiations with the manufacturer. Roberts had found problems with everything from the method of closure (satin strings) to the texture of the lining ("smooth" on one side, "soft" on the other) to the covering on the buttons. "Our best suggestion," he wrote, making figurative use of the first-person plural, "is that the manufacturer might cut down on the size of each container by making them three pockets instead of four pockets. Each pocket might be made just a little deeper and then constructed so that it would naturally fold in accordance with the depth of each pocket. The lady would then merely fold the bag twice and then button on the flap, assuming that buttons are the final decision, as a means of closing the jewelry bag. If the jewelry bag is fronted in accordance with the dimensions of the three slots, the bag would then close up properly in the same fashion regardless of whether the jewelry bag was filled with jewelry or only slightly filled.... Also, I think we should have three buttons instead of two."

    The following year, the club's gift was an address book modeled on one that Roberts had used for years. Each address book was accompanied by a letter from Roberts containing instructions on how it might best be used:


1. You will find that about 20% of your friends will annually change their address or phone number, and then erasing becomes necessary; therefore, entries should not be made in your book except with a pencil. Always use sharply pointed, hard-lead pencils (No. 3) as soft-lead pencils will smear. You will need to list quite a bit of data in limited spaces so I'd advise you to print rather than write your entries.
2. All entries should be made by the same person; yourself, your wife or your secretary. Make a note about any new names to be entered in your book but do not make the entry until you are in your home or office where you are properly equipped.
3. Attached is a facsimile of a page out of your book with typical entries. The man's name goes on the full line in the first section and you can, if you wish, list the first name of his wife. In the second section, the letter "H" stands for home and "B" stands for business....
4. The back section of your book contains 16 pages.... I find it handy to list the principal persons I know, see occasionally, or have contact with in certain cities such as San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Chicago, London, etc....
6. To me, the handiest place to carry an address book is in my left breast coat pocket.


The address book was attractive (although the minuscule entry spaces were designed around Roberts's agate-sized printing), but many of Roberts's friends felt that the real gift was the letter. In a few paragraphs it captured much of what was endearing and infuriating about his personality: his thoughtfulness, his attention to detail, his devotion to efficiency, his innocent solipsism. Who else would have bothered to recommend a grade of pencil lead, to explain what "H" and "B" stood for, or to give examples of "certain cities" as though readers might otherwise have been confused about what he meant? The New Yorker reproduced Roberts's letter as one of its "newsbreaks," the humorous items the magazine uses as filler.

    Roberts himself was aware that his absorption with detail was potentially comical, as he acknowledged in his closing: "I hope you will find the address book to be useful. If not, please do not hesitate to consign it to the nearest trash can." Of the thousand or so recipients, there can't be more than a few who still have the address book. But there are many who still have the letter.


A portrait of Roberts hangs on a wall in the library. It was painted by Eisenhower, who first visited Augusta National in 1948, became a member shortly afterward, and loved the club above all other retreats. In the shape of the bald head in the painting there is a slight suggestion of self-portrait--an allusion that, if he noticed it, must have pleased Roberts immensely. He admired Eisenhower as much as he did Jones, and he was a close friend and confidant for the rest of Ike's life. He was heavily involved in both presidential campaigns. During both terms, he was a valued behind-the-scenes adviser on a broad range of issues, and he spent many nights at the White House. He managed the Eisenhower family's investments, tutored Ike in international finance, and invented what is now a standard American political accessory, the blind trust. Eisenhower named him an executor of his estate.

    With Eisenhower as with Jones, Roberts's preferred position was in the background. He sought nothing for himself except the great man's friendship and trust. He might have pursued (and could have received) an appointment in the administration, but that was not the style of his ambition. Even at the club, where he eventually made nearly all the important decisions, he secured his influence first of all by making himself subordinate to Jones. That was how he attached himself to the world. His chosen place was always at the edge of any circle to which he belonged. He was a member of the club, of course, but his position as the chairman created what for him was a comfortable distance between himself and all but his closest friends. His table in the dining room stood in a corner near an outside door. When he played cards, he sat next to the wall. When he practiced his golf swing, he typically did so not on the driving range but at the end of what was then a field on the other side of Magnolia Lane. (On blustery days, he and a caddie would take a bag of balls to the eleventh fairway, which was protected from the wind, and he would practice there.) His bedroom was at the end of the residential wing on the east end of the clubhouse; his office stood beyond the farthest end of the farthest wing in the opposite direction, at one end of a building that in those days served as the tournament headquarters. His apartments elsewhere were almost always on the top floor or at the end of the hall. When he decided to spend his summers in North Carolina, the lot he chose for his condominium was on the end.

    Roberts governed the Masters from the edges as well. He made occasional forays onto the course, usually in a golf cart, often in the company of Jones, but he spent most of every tournament either in his room or in his office. He received reports, gathered information, studied the broadcast on closed-circuit television, and issued instructions. When he appeared on camera at the end of the tournament on Sunday evening, he was an awkward presence; his only real role was to surrender the floor to Jones.

    Even so, the easiest place to find Roberts, then as now, is in the golf tournament he conceived, nurtured, and ran for nearly forty years. More than two decades after his death, the Masters still operates largely as though he were at the controls. Hootie Johnson, who in 1998 became the fifth chairman of the tournament and the club, says, "Mr. Roberts was told once what a great tournament it was. And he said, `Thank you, but we really never get it right.' We still feel that way."

    Others are less critical. The Masters is still viewed almost universally as the best-run golf tournament in the world, if not the best-run sporting event, and, as Roberts would have insisted, it has maintained its standing without acquiring the modern trappings of success. Spectators can still buy lunch for about what they might pay for a soft drink at any other tournament, because Roberts believed that anyone who had traveled two hundred miles to watch a round of golf ought to be able to buy a decent meal at a decent price. Teams of uniformed workers still intercept crumpled paper cups almost before they hit the ground, because Roberts felt that litter detracted from the beauty of the course and the dignity of the event. (The cups and sandwich bags are green, making them nearly invisible to television cameras--a major issue with Roberts.) Amateur competitors are still offered inexpensive accommodations in the clubhouse itself, because Roberts didn't want an invitation to the Masters to be a financial burden. Members still wear their green coats all week, as they have done since 1937, because Roberts felt that knowledgeable sources of information ought to be easily identifiable to spectators in need of assistance. There are no advertising banners or billboards pasted with corporate logos. The television broadcast is scarcely interrupted by commercials. There are no hole-in-one cars floating on the water hazards. Asked what they're playing for, the competitors still name not a sum of money but an article of clothing.

    The Masters is still the competition by which other competitions are judged. That's a remarkable achievement, and the credit for it belongs largely to Roberts. He built the club and the tournament against what at first appeared to be insuperable odds, and in doing so he probably did as much as any other single person to shape what golfers and golf fans today think of as the world of competitive golf.

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Table of Contents

Chapter One
Benevolent Dictator

Chapter Two
"I Just Figured Cliff Had Never Been a Child"

Chapter Three
Beginning

Chapter Four
Augusta National Invitation Tournament

Chapter Five
"The World's Wonder Inland Golf Course"

Chapter Six
Cattle, Turkeys, and Prisoners of War

Chapter Seven
General Ike

Chapter Eight
Television

Chapter Nine
Roberts's Rules

Chapter Ten
Inside, Outside

Chapter Eleven
Monuments

Acknowledgments
Index
Photo Credits

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First Chapter

Chapter 6: Cattle, Turkeys, and Prisoners of War

Few people remember today, but for two years in the late thirties Augusta National was the home of a second professional golf tournament. In 1937, at a meeting held in a hotel in Augusta, a committee of aging professionals established a senior division of the P.G.A. and decided to hold a national championship for players aged fifty-five or older. Augusta National offered to host the event. The inaugural P.G.A. Seniors' Championship took place that year on the last day of November and the first two days of December. Alfred Bourne, the vice president of the club, donated $1,500 for a silver trophy and agreed to cover the competitors' bar tab (which amounted to not quite two hundred dollars). "It was a delightful occasion," Allie Berckmans, the club's general manager, wrote shortly afterward in a letter to a member, "and it did one good to see these old fellows enjoy the sport. They didn't give a rap about the prize money, all they wanted was to try to win the cup donated by Mr. Bourne and have a good time." The winner was Jock Hutchison. The tournament returned to Augusta National the following year, when it was shortened to thirty-six holes because of rain. The winner that year was Fred McLeod, who beat Otto Hackbarth in an eighteen-hole playoff. In 1939, the Seniors' Championship found a regular sponsor and moved to Florida.

The club had two main interests in hosting the senior event. The first was that the tournament, though small, brought additional prestige to the club and the course at a time when prestige was deeply coveted. The second was that the tournament gave the club a new opportunity to fulfill what visitors to the hall "would have four good views of the course instead of one." He also liked the idea that "members using the golf course would have a good view of an attractive building" -- though from a distance.

Roberts was especially concerned that golf's hall of fame should be more compelling than baseball's. In a lengthy letter to Olmsted Bros., written a few days after the 1941 Masters, he described a number of features that he thought ought to be included. "The more I think about it," he wrote, "the more I feel that a building that houses a few plaques or a few bronze busts and that offers nothing else to the public, would prove to be a dull, worthless type of project, having no excuse for its existence except to attempt to glorify the leaders of golf. And I doubt that very much would be added to their fame." One wing of the building, he continued, could contain "automatic movie machines," which, for a quarter, would show instructional films by the game's great teachers. Another wing could serve as both a comprehensive library and a book-store. Visitors would be able to buy souvenir booklets, postcards depicting the Augusta National course, and "popular-priced copies" of some of the books in the library. Roberts's boldest suggestion was to construct "a miniature Augusta National course surrounding the Hall of Fame which would be a practical pitch and putt course and could be made a most attractive part of the landscaping scheme." The holes would be scaled-down replicas of the holes on the big course. He proposed a fee of twenty-five cents per round. He also suggested building an "especially attractive" public driving range based on a plan that Jones had come across and thought highly of.

Despite Roberts's enthusiasm, the project never came to anything, and there was no further discussion of building a miniature Augusta National. The Coxes lost interest in the hall of fame, the club was not in a financial position to follow through on its own, and news from Europe and the Pacific soon made other concerns more pressing.


In a letter to the members in 1939, Roberts wrote, emphatically, "I do hope that I can count on everyone receiving this letter, keeping in mind as a live issue the whole year round the matter of getting desirable candidates to make application for membership." He enclosed several membership blanks, and he expected members to make use of them. The effort paid off. The following year, the club's total membership exceeded one hundred for the first time, and Roberts was able to pay down the club's mortgage. For the first time since 1934, he had solid reasons to believe that the club's most significant financial difficulties might finally be behind it.

There were other good signs as well. In 1939, the club for the first time sold more Masters tickets than it had in 1934, the year of Jones's return. The tournament was still unprofitable, strictly speaking, because Roberts always spent more on course improvements and new tournament facilities than the club netted from ticket sales. But the Masters was beginning to produce operating profits of a few thousand dollars a year, and consequently Roberts's budget for improvements was growing. He felt confident about the future, partly because ticket sales had grown stronger despite six years of bad luck with the weather. (Five times during the first nine tournaments, bad weather forced postponement of a d ay's play.) In 1939 he wrote, "I think I can see good prospects of eventually building up a gate of $15,000 or more" -- a target that represented a fifty percent improvement over that year's results.

Most encouraging of all was the arrival of a new generation of golf stars -- chief among them Byron Nelson, Sam Snead, and Ben Hogan. One or another of those three players would dominate the game for the next two decades, until the rise of Arnold Palmer in the late fifties, and the Masters would be a pivotal event for each of them. (Nelson was the first to emerge. He won in 1937, and then finished fifth, seventh, third, second, and first in the next five Masters.) Augusta National, despite its decidedly modest beginnings and continuing financial difficulties, was becoming a leading institution in American golf. "While we may not have expected it originally," Roberts wrote in 1939, "we have created a tournament of such importance that we are bound to see that it continues."

And then came the war. Just as the club and the tournament finally seemed to be taking hold, the world turned upside down. To Roberts, the crisis must have seemed almost inevitable. In the past, every time his life or career had seemed to resolve itself, something devastating had upset it. And now, at what he had thought was the end of a decade-long struggle, he realized that a bigger challenge lay ahead.

Jones, for his part, was eager to continue for as long as possible not only with the Masters but also with the club's normal activities. "My own notion," he wrote to Roberts a little more than two weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, "is that we should keep going until we strike a definite snag." Roberts agreed. Bot h men soon realized, though, that the inevitable snag was not far in the future. Even if the they could somehow manage to keep the dub open for another season, conducting the Masters in the usual manner would be unseemly at a time of growing international crisis. They discussed a number of alternatives: paying Masters prizes in defense bonds, donating tournament proceeds to the Red Cross, encouraging members to make individual contributions to the Red Cross through the club, securing pledges from members to give a certain amount of money to the Red Cross every time a competitor scored a birdie or an eagle. (That last idea had been inspired by the radio program Information, Please, in connection with which the American Tobacco Co., the sponsor, gave twenty-five dollars to the Will Rogers Fund every time a contestant missed a question.)

Roberts then had the idea of using a portion of the tournament's proceeds to make golf available to soldiers stationed at Camp Gordon (now known as Fort Gordon), which was the largest military installation in Augusta. Jones thought that was "a swell idea." In a letter to an officer of the club, Jones wrote, "The idea appeals to me as novel and a means of supplying nighttime entertainment as well as giving the boys a taste of something they can fall back on after they get out of the army. It will be a service to the game of golf as well as to the trainees." In a press release the club announced, "A man in an army training camp can't come to a golf course -- at least, not often. So golf is coming to him." The club arranged, as a "gift of the 1942 Masters Golf Tournament," to build a practice range and a huge putting green at Camp Gordon. The club donated balls, clubs, tee markers, flags, floodlights, turf from its own property, and maintenance equipment and supplies. Shortly before the tournament, it also sent a group of Masters competitors to the base to conduct an exhibition. Later, the army built (again with the assistance of the club) a small nine-hole course of its own. Roberts and Jones urged other clubs to set up similar programs. A number did, and the United States Golf Association credited the Augusta National with starting the trend.

The 1942 Masters was played in this unsettled environment. Against all expectations, it provided the most exciting finish since Sarazen's miracle win in 1935. Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan tied at eight under par after seventy-two holes; the following day, in an eighteen-hole playoff, Nelson shot 69 (despite beginning with a double-bogey six on the first hole) and beat Hogan by a stroke. It was an outcome that came close to defining the state of the game at that particular moment, and it marked the real arrival of the Masters as a truly significant competition.

Two days later, Roberts sent effusive letters to both men. "I know you will not mind my saying that I will always remember this year's Tournament as being the one won by both Byron and Ben," he wrote to Nelson. "...To my way of thinking, you fellows put on one of the greatest Shows that golf has ever known and I wish I could have some more adequate means at my disposal to express our appreciation." Along with each player's letter he enclosed a check for two hundred dollars, "which you may consider as being extra prize money." The bonuses added up to slightly more than the club's net proceeds from additional tickets sold for the playoff.

The celebration foll owing the 1942 tournament was muted, however. Roberts and Jones now realized that the club was going to have to shut down for the duration, and a number of members assumed that it would never open again. More than a few believed that Nelson and Hogan's playoff would turn out to be the last competitive round ever to be played at Augusta National. As Roberts himself wrote ten months later, "the Lord only knows when we will again operate as a golf club."

Roberts announced the club's closing in a letter to the members on October 1, 1942, shortly before what would have been the beginning of the ninth full playing season. By that time, travel had become difficult, Augusta's hotels were about to be taken over by the army, and many of the club's employees and members (among them Jones) were already in uniform. "Some months ago we cut down our staff to just a skeleton maintenance crew," Roberts reported, "but the golf course and the plants are being properly cared for and we can prepare to open just as soon as the war's end is definitely in sight." He suspended dues and appealed to members for voluntary contributions and loans to cover the cost of maintaining the club in a state of suspended animation, a cost that Roberts estimated at $12,000 a year. Toward the end of 1941, the club had taken the precaution of laying in a large supply of golf balls. Now they wouldn't be needed.


In 1942, Jones suggested to Roberts that the club might both contribute to the war effort and improve its financial situation by raising cattle on the golf course during the period when the club was shut down. The idea was that the cattle would keep the Bermuda grass under control while fattening themselves to the point where they could be sold at a profit. One of the club's members had a son who knew about livestock, and he determined that the club had enough grass to support two hundred or two hundred and fifty head. Roberts went ahead with the idea, and suggested that the club might also want to try raising turkeys, geese, fish, "and what-not." (In the end, only cattle and turkeys were tried.)

During the war years, Roberts supervised activities at the club from a distance. He lived in an apartment at the Park Lane Hotel, in New York, and worked at the investment firm Reynolds & Co., where he had become a partner in the spring of 1941. Business was slow. In his book about the club, he wrote that the war years were the second of two significant "lean periods" in his career, the first having been the dark years following the Crash. Charles Yates, who had joined the club in 1940 and was in the navy during the war, remembers seeing Roberts several times in that period. The destroyer on which Yates served had been hit during the invasion of Anzio in 1944, and had come to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for repairs. Roberts invited Yates and his wife, Dorothy -- who had come to New York to be with her husband -- to stay in his apartment whenever he was traveling on business. He also visited Yates at the shipyard and took him and Dorothy out for meals. "Cliff was so different, if you knew him, from the way he seemed from afar," Yates recalls. "One time, he took us out to lunch, and afterwards we were walking up Broadway, and in front of us was a couple that was moving awful slow. Suddenly, Cliff grabbed Dorothy's hand and started skipping with her. They skipped right by this couple, and as they went past, Cliff turned to them and sa id, 'Honk-honk! Honk-honk!'" Yates says that Roberts went out of his way to make life easier for him and his wife at a difficult time. "He was a man who kept so much within himself," Yates recalls, "but he was extraordinarily kind."

Toward the end of 1943, Roberts reported to the members that the club's agricultural efforts were going well. The cattle herd was about two hundred strong, and the plan was to purchase another two hundred head as soon as the original animals could be sold. "The Club also purchased 1,423 day-old turkeys and was successful in raising 1,004 of them," Roberts wrote. "These turkeys will soon be ready for market but over 100 are to be retained for Christmas distribution to our members -- one to each member." (These Christmas presents were a hit. A member who had received one wrote to Roberts, "It was a peach all right and doubly welcome in these days of tight rationing.") The club also harvested pecans from its own trees. It donated half the crop, through the wife of Grantland Rice, to an army canteen, and it sold the other half in ten-pound bags to members. There was talk of growing corn and peanuts in a field now used as a parking lot for the Masters, but that idea was abandoned as unlikely to succeed.

Despite Roberts's enthusiasm, the livestock experiment didn't turn out as planned. A ceiling had been imposed on the price of turkeys but not on that of feed, and the market for beef was hurt by a sudden cattle glut resulting from drought conditions in the West. By the fall of 1944, the club had lost about $5,000 on the beef operation, not including the cost of damage to the course and its plantings. (The damage had been caused by what Roberts described as "the voracious a ppetite of the cattle.") The loss was partly offset by a profit on the turkeys. But Roberts concluded, in a letter to the members, that "we have a better chance as a golf club rather than as live-stock feeders."

Restoring the course to playable condition began in late 1944, when the end of the war began to seem imminent. Military use of local hotels had begun to slacken, and Roberts had calculated that the cost of returning the course to playing condition would no longer be significantly greater than the cost of continuing to maintain it as it was. He announced that the club would reopen on December 23, 1944, and that the course would be ready for play sometime later.

Much of the restoration work on the course was done during a six-month period by forty-two German prisoners of war, who were being detained at Camp Gordon, in Augusta, and were available for hire as day laborers by local businesses. The prisoners had been part of an engineering crew in Rommel's Afrika Korps. They had been surprised, upon arriving in America, to find that New York Was still standing, because they had been told by Nazi propagandists that German bombers had leveled the city. The club arranged for transportation to pick them up at Camp Gordon each morning and return them at the end of the day. A local member, who used to bring them fruit and visit with them while they worked, says the army had sent them out "mostly just to give them something to do."

In Africa, the German soldiers had built bridges for Rommel's tanks. At the Augusta National, they built a similar bridge over Rae's Creek near the thirteenth tee. It was a truss bridge made of wood, and it was marked by a wooden sign on which the soldiers carved an insc ription. The bridge, which is visible in a few old photographs, either washed away in a flood in the early fifties or was taken down in 1958 to make way for a stone bridge dedicated to Byron Nelson. (The Ben Hogan Bridge, which crosses Rae's Creek near the twelfth green, was built and dedicated at the same time.)

The photographer Frank Christian, in his book Augusta National and the Masters, recalls spending summer afternoons on the course during this period when he was a young boy. "[M]y older brother, Toni, and I would gather our playmates and walk the few blocks from our house to the inviting shores of Rae's Creek, where we had discovered the ideal swimming hole in front of the twelfth green," Christian writes. "We would take rocks and dam the creek to create several deep holes within the pond, just perfect for running jumps taken from the high side of the creek....After swimming, a great part of our fun was to throw cow biscuits at one another and chase the cows up and down the fairways." Fred Bennett, who would later become a caddie at the club and then caddie master, also came to Rae's Creek to swim and fish. "I remember those cows very well," he recalls. "And when the war was over you could tell they'd been there, because all over the fairways there were circles of bright green grass about a foot across."


In the improving financial climate shortly before the war, a group of club members, led by Bartlett Arkell, had donated $50,000 toward a major renovation of the clubhouse. This was a great stroke of fortune. "If the rebuilding of the clubhouse had not been done prior to World War II," Roberts later wrote, "there is no way of telling when it might ever have been accomplished." He also estimated that the renovation would have cost at least four times as much if it had been postponed.

The final step in the project was the conversion of the building's attic into minimal sleeping quarters for six men, with streams of sunlight provided during the day by the building's cupola. This dormitory, which came to be called the Crow's Nest, was the first overnight lodgings available on the grounds. (For a time, some members also stayed in a house on Washington Road, just east of Magnolia Lane, which had been owned by one of the Berckmanses. The house was later torn down.) The Crow's Nest -- which today consists of a comfortable sitting room, four partially enclosed sleeping areas containing a total of five beds, and a bathroom -- was completed at around the time the club reopened. It is still sometimes used by members and guests, although the steepness of the staircase limits its popularity among those with unreliable knees. During the Masters, it is offered to any of the tournament's amateur competitors who wish to stay there; at night, they are inevitably drawn downstairs to thumb through the books in the library, look at the photographs on the walls, stand for a while in the champions' locker room, and worry about teeing off the next morning in front of the multitude gathered around the first tee. Among players who slept in the Crow's Nest as amateurs and went on to win the tournament as professionals are Ben Crenshaw, Jack Nicklaus, Mark O'Meara, Craig Stadler, and Tiger Woods.

Construction of the Crow's Nest was followed by what became an ambitious plan to add sleeping facilities. The quality and availability of local hotel rooms was increasingly unpredictable, and Roberts bel ieved that the club needed to become more self-sufficient. In 1945, a member named Edward J. Barber, who ran the Barber Steamship Lines in New York, surprised Roberts by offering to lend the club $100,000 on extremely favorable terms and to leave the club enough money in his will to cancel the debt. (Upon his death in 1953 he actually bequeathed twice as much.) Barber explained that his years as a golfer were running out, and he wanted the club's facilities to improve while he still had time to enjoy them. The end of the war also brought an influx of new members, more than offsetting a decline that had followed the closing of the club in 1942. By the fall of 1945, the club's roster reached approximately one hundred and thirty -- an all-time high. The situation was so promising that Roberts for the first time spoke of imposing a membership limit, which he placed at two hundred.

The unexpectedly large treasury provided by gifts, loans, and initiation fees enabled the club to embark immediately on an ambitious building program, which Roberts had previously thought would take many years to complete. The club added residential suites, a golf shop, a kitchen, and a formal dining room, which was called the Trophy Room. (The Trophy Room was originally intended to house "such souvenirs as may have a direct connection with the Augusta National and its members," and so to serve as a modest private version of the abandoned hall of fame; the only souvenirs kept there today are a set of Jones's clubs, some clubs donated by early tournament winners, and the ball with which Gene Sarazen made his double-eagle.) The club also built the first of a series of residential cottages, which are usually called cabins and o f which there are now ten.

The first two cottages to be built were named for Burton F. Peek and Bobby Jones. Peek, who joined the club in 1934, was the chairman of Deere & Co. and was once described by Roberts as "our candidate for top honors as the man who hit the most golf balls in one lifetime." The Jones Cabin, which is situated to the left of the tenth tee, is still decorated much as it was in Jones's lifetime. The sportswriter Charles Price used to visit Jones there during the Masters when Jones had grown too ill even to observe the tournament from a golf cart. "We would sit at a card table next to a window," Price wrote in Golf Digest in 1991. "A curtain prevented spectators from looking in but allowed Bob to peer out." The cottage has a small front porch that can accommodate just a few chairs. It has always been an extremely pleasant spot from which to watch a sunset on a late-spring evening.

Seven additional cottages were built over the years. The best known are the Eisenhower Cabin, which was built in 1953 (and will be discussed in the next chapter), and the Butler Cabin, which was named for Thomas B. Butler and was built in 1965. In the basement of the Butler Cabin is a large, open room that is used as a television studio during Masters broadcasts. Interviews with the tournament winner and others are conducted in front of a large stone fireplace at one end of the room. The space looks intimate on television but is actually cavernous, since it was designed to accommodate cameras, lights, electronic equipment, and several miles of cable. Before the Butler Cabin was built, televised interviews with the winner were conducted in Roberts's bedroom, sometimes with his extravagantly pr inted floor-to-ceiling curtains billowing in the background. At the end of the broadcast in 1960, Roberts angrily turned around on the couch to correct a CBS correspondent who had just referred to the tournament's venue as "the Augusta National Country Club." Roberts barked, "Golf club. Not a country club." It was a distinction that was extremely important to him and one that he was always careful to maintain.

The last cottage to be built was named for Jackson Stephens and was built in 1969. Stephens, who served as the club's chairman from 1991 until 1998, recalls that Roberts brought up the subject one evening as they were walking along a path that connects all the cabins. "Cliff said, 'If you'll underwrite it, I'll get it built this summer,' and I said I would," Stephens says. "But I had never won an argument with him, so I said, 'You know, Cliff, I love to swim, and I expect I'll be spending a lot of time in that house, so I'd like to have a swimming pool underneath it.' Oh, God, he hated that idea. He felt that a swimming pool had no place at a golf club. We went back and forth and back and forth, and it kind of became a thing with me -- and Cliff finally acquiesced. Now, I no more wanted a swimming pool than I wanted a billy goat. I just wanted to win an argument with Cliff. So I relented as soon as he had agreed, and he was greatly relieved."


Among the many decisions that had to be made after the war was whether to revive the Masters. It was not necessarily a foregone conclusion. In October 1945, in a letter to the club's thirty local members, Roberts pointed out that there were many difficulties, among them the limited number of hotel rooms. The Bon Air had changed management, and oth er accommodations were scarce. "For my part," Roberts wrote, "I'd like to see the Augusta National do its part to keep Augusta's resort business alive by continuing the Masters Tournament. I'd also like to see our Tournament continue to serve the game of golf; but the future of the Club -- as a private organization -- is by no means dependent upon the Tournament. Rather, the Masters is a public event that belongs to the city of Augusta." Roberts concluded his letter by listing what he believed to be the club's only possible courses of action. There were three: The first was to put pressure on the Bon Air to make improvements in its facilities and its services, while also stepping up efforts to sell tickets locally; the second was to postpone resumption of the tournament until 1947, by which time the hotel situation might have resolved itself; the third was to "relinquish the Masters name to some other city, and not bother about the tournaments."

Roberts's letter may have been partly a bluff intended to stir up the local members, who would have to assume much of the responsibility for selling tickets and putting the course back into shape. If that was Roberts's intention, he was successful; within a month, the club was fully committed to moving ahead.

Roberts's investment business by that time had increased to the point where he could no longer devote as much attention as he once had to the Masters or the club. Many tournament preparations became the responsibility of James Searle, who had served as the club's manager since before the war. The list of his chores, which Roberts sent by mail from New York, was lengthy: the underground telephone lines, which linked the scoreboards and crisscrossed t he course, had to be tested and repaired; the main scoreboard had to be found, cleaned up, and reinstalled (Roberts couldn't remember where it had been stored); all the old signs had to be found and repainted; the condition of the rest rooms had to be determined and dealt with; a printer had to be found for tickets, badges, and various publications; press releases had to be written; contestants had to be invited. That last task was made difficult by the fact that the U.S.G.A. had held neither the Open nor the Amateur since 1941, and the Royal and Ancient had not held the British Open since 1939. The pool of qualifiers, therefore, was unusually small. Roberts suggested appointing a special committee to make up the difference.

Despite the many challenges, the 1946 Masters went off on schedule and ran smoothly. The winner was Herman Keiser, a relatively unknown professional from Springfield, Missouri, who had once worked as an assistant to Horton Smith. The players called Keiser "the Missouri Mortician," because his long face was usually cast in a darkly gloomy expression.

After two rounds, Keiser, at seven under par, was five strokes clear of the field. He maintained that margin with a 71 on Saturday. On Sunday, he was erratic on the first nine, made eight consecutive pars on the second nine, and bogeyed the final hole, for a 74. Hogan, who had begun five shots behind, came to the eighteenth knowing he needed a birdie to win and a par to tie. He hit his second shot twelve feet from the hole -- then three-putted, including a miss from two and a half feet. He finished second by a stroke. (Among those who witnessed Hogan's miss was a fifteen-year-old girl named Pierrine Baker, whose boyfriend had lif ted her up so she could see over the heads of the spectators in front of them. Her boyfriend was Hootie Johnson, also fifteen, who is now the chairman of the club. They have been married for nearly fifty years.)

Several times in the last ten years, Keiser, who is now in his eighties, has made accusations concerning what he says was a conspiracy to derail his victory in 1946. In various magazine articles and a book, he has been quoted as saying that two prominent members of the club had each bet $50,000 on Hogan and therefore didn't want Keiser to win; that the club on Saturday paired him with Sam Snead, who was twelve shots behind him, in the hopes that Snead's large gallery would distract him; that for the same reason the club on Sunday paired him with Byron Nelson, who was eight shots behind him; that he and Nelson were sent off in the middle of the pack rather than in the final pairing in the final round in order to place him at a disadvantage; and that Hogan, as the club's favorite, was given the last tee time. Keiser has also said that he had assumed he would be teeing off last on Sunday and that he would have missed his starting time if someone hadn't rushed into the clubhouse while he was eating lunch to warn him that he was about to be called to the tee. "Someone didn't want me to win," he has said -- and some sportswriters have taken him at his word.

Keiser's contention that two prominent members had placed gargantuan wagers on Hogan and that the club conspired with them to protect their money is impossible to check directly, but all of his other accusations can be tested against the record -- and none of them is supported by the facts. The third-round leader in the Masters today plays in the final pairing on Sunday, but he didn't in the old days. In Keiser's era, the leader played much earlier, in a featured pairing that teed off in the early afternoon. Roberts explained the rationale in 1956 in a letter to Byron Nelson: "The people who drive great distances [to watch the tournament], ranging as high as 200 miles or more, are not going to be willing to make those long trips unless they can arrive at Augusta around noon, get a bite of lunch, and then see the most interesting personalities perform in the afternoon." The tournament had operated that way from the beginning, and it continued to do so for more than twenty years after the war. In the final round in 1934, for example, Horton Smith (the third round leader and eventual winner) teed off at 12:58, ninety-eight minutes before the final group; twelve years later, Herman Keiser (the third-round leader and eventual winner) teed off at 1:12, ninety-six minutes before the final group. The first tournament leader to play in the final pairing on Sunday was Billy Casper, in 1969. (He finished in a three-way tie for second.)

Why did Hogan tee off last in 1946? He didn't. Despite Keiser's recollection, the final pairing that year consisted of Ralph Guldahl (who was thirty-one shots out of the lead) and Johnny Palmer (who was twenty shots out). The last few pairings in the early years were typically assigned to players who were either hopelessly out of the running or were notoriously slow -- a practice that prevented deliberate or struggling golfers from holding up the leaders. Hogan, who was paired with Jimmy Demaret in 1946, teed off nearly an hour before the final group.

Nor was there anything remotely unusual about Keiser's pair ings in the last two rounds. Pairings in the early years were not based on scores, and the leader was typically grouped with a player from well back in the pack. Horton Smith in 1934 played his final round with Denny Shute, the British Open champion, who stood ten shots behind him. Jimmy Demaret, who won in 1947, played his final round with Bobby Locke, the top international player at that time, who was nine shots back. Final-round pairings with the leaders in those days were essentially ceremonial. Byron Nelson did the honors four times in the first ten tournaments after the war, and he brought home the winner all four times. The only tournaments in which he didn't play with the third-round leader were ones in which he himself was in contention -- and on one of those occasions, in 1954, his playing companion won anyway. That was Sam Snead, who beat Ben Hogan (the third-round leader) in an eighteen-hole playoff. If the club had really wanted Keiser to lose, they could have greatly improved their odds by pairing him with anyone but Nelson.

Keiser's accusation about a huge bet by two members -- whom he has never named -- is impossible to check. But his contention that the club tried to alter the outcome of the tournament in order to protect their wager is easy to dismiss. Beginning in 1934, the club had participated indirectly in the operation of a public Masters auction pool, or calcutta -- a standard feature at golf tournaments in that era -- which was held at the Bon Air Hotel; there were numerous other pools as well, including some at the club itself. (The last Masters calcutta conducted at Augusta National was held in 1952.) But Roberts always distinguished those popular activities -- in which he himself sometimes participated -- from professional gambling, which he referred to as "banditry" and fought for years. One of his complaints about the Bon Air after the war concerned his conviction that the hotel had (as he put it in a letter) "made space available to professional gamblers," whose activities he believed were a threat to the game. Any attempt to skew the outcome of the tournament by tinkering with the pairings would have had to be approved by him. The idea that he would have risked the destruction of the Masters and the club in order to preserve the bankrolls of a pair of members, whose alleged wager would have amounted to ten times the purse of the tournament, is preposterous. If their bet was common knowledge at the tournament, as Keiser has suggested, Roberts would have known about it, too, and he would have thrown both of them out of the club.


The 1947 Masters provided another exciting finish. The top players on the leader board included Nelson, Hogan, and Demaret -- who won by a stroke. The most thrilling player, though, was a relative unknown: Frank Stranahan, who played the last two rounds in six under par, had the low round on Sunday (68), and finished two strokes out of the lead in a tie with Nelson for second place. The most exciting thing about Stranahan was that he was not a professional. (He would later win the British Amateur twice.) Jones and Roberts had both dreamed since the beginning that an amateur might win the Masters someday, and Stranahan came closer than anyone had.

The following year, Stranahan provided the shock of the tournament when, six days before the first round, the club withdrew his invitation. In a statement issued to the press on Monday o f tournament week, Roberts explained the reason: "Mr. Stranahan, last Friday, was advised that his invitation had been withdrawn because of disregard of regulations made for the protection of the golf course and for the benefit of all Players in the Tournament. This was a repetition of similar offenses of which he had been guilty last year and against which he had been warned. In these circumstances, our Tournament Committee felt justified in considering that the violation of its regulations was flagrant and that it had no other choice than to request Mr. Stranahan's withdrawal."

Stranahan had repeatedly violated a club rule limiting players to a single ball in practice rounds, but his main offense was that he had become belligerent when confronted for doing so by the course superintendent. The club's statement had been necessitated, Roberts said, by "continued publicity of the incident, apparently inspired by Mr. Stranahan." In a wire service news story published that day, Stranahan had been quoted threatening "serious repercussions" against the club's tournament committee, whose members he referred to as "high hats." A few days later, in a private letter to Joe Williams of the New York Telegram, Roberts wrote, "Needless to say, it was an unpleasant experience -- something that's never happened before in this Tournament. We were sorry to lose a good golfer but you are quite right when you say there was no other course we could take."

In more recent years, some writers have speculated that there must have been something sinister behind Stranahan's expulsion -- that Roberts must have been out to get him for some dark personal reason, perhaps even because he suspected him of having an affai r with a secretary of his from New York, as was suggested (without evidence) in a recent book. It has also been suggested that Roberts intimidated Jones and others into saying nothing in Stranahan's behalf.

But Jones's correspondence from that period as well as other sources demonstrate persuasively that Stranahan's problem was Stranahan's alone. He was invited back to the Masters in 1949 and for the next ten years after that -- he remained one of the top amateurs in the world -- but his respect for the rules and his behavior in the tournament continued to be an issue. According to an article in Collier's in 1947, Stranahan had a reputation as "the most egocentric, monomaniacal character who ever swung a niblick"; that description was undoubtedly an exaggeration, but it was based on well-established fact. Augusta National employees from that era remember him as arrogant and rude. Stranahan was (and is) a bodybuilder, and he typically traveled in those days with several hundred pounds of free weights in his luggage. A favorite trick of his was to ask unsuspecting bellboys to bring his luggage, then laugh as they struggled to carry his bags.

Problems with Stranahan, though unpublicized, continued for years. Two months after the Masters in 1956 -- more than eight years after the notorious practice round expulsion -- the situation was severe enough that Jones felt compelled to write a man-to-man letter to Stranahan's father, who was the head of Champion Spark Plug Co., in Toledo, Ohio, and who had financed his son's amateur golf career. "I want very much to have a talk with you about Frank and his relationship with the Augusta National Golf Club," Jones wrote. "Frank is a very fine golfer and I like him personally very much. Quite frankly, though, he needs to be straightened out on a few aspects of his behavior at the Masters Tournament. I would very much hope that a little talk between you and me might have this effect. While it would be possible for us to have this sort of conversation on the telephone, I would very much prefer, and I think you would too, that we might have it person to person." He suggested that they meet in New York.

On August 6, the son responded with a letter to Jones (addressed "Dear Robert"). "As I travel the road of golf," he wrote, "the Masters Tournament -- the way it is handled and what it stands for in the game -- means more to me than I have been able to display. Please accept my word that there is nothing I would rather do to add to the Masters in any possible way and to help carry out any suggestions or rules that the committees feel are for the good of all."

That response angered Jones. "Your letter of August 6th uses some very pretty words," he wrote, "and I thank you for your kind expressions. It does not, however, give me the satisfactory answer to the problem I discussed with your father. To have you give me your word that there is nothing you would 'rather do' than the things I and others would normally expect of any competitor who accepted an invitation to play in the tournament is not at all what I want you to tell me."

Stranahan sent another letter three weeks later, but again Jones was displeased. "Perhaps I should not expect that you would use words as carefully as is necessary in my profession," he wrote, "but I am sure you will understand that when you say that there is nothing in the world you 'would rather do than to add to th e Masters in any possible way and to help carry out any suggestions that the committees feel are for the good of all,' you are not saying that you will do this." Jones sent a copy of his reply to Stranahan's father as well, and he wrote to Roberts to say that he had "made it plain" to both men "that we would not issue an invitation to Frank again this year" unless Jones was satisfied.

Four days later, Stranahan gave Jones what he wanted: a brief, typewritten letter (addressed "Dear Mr. Jones") in which he repeated wording that Jones himself had suggested: "You have my word that I will cooperate and observe all the suggestions, regulations and rules of the committee." And that, finally, was the end of it. Jones wrote back to say that Stranahan's eleventh Masters invitation would be forthcoming, and he urged Stranahan to stop by and see him when he got to Augusta. Stranahan played in the Masters in 1958 and 1959 as well -- in 1959 as a professional -- and there is no indication in the club's files that his behavior was ever an issue again.


In a letter to Jones in December 1946, Roberts wrote, "I want you to take over as Tournament Chairman in exactly five years," adding, "I'd like you to start saying now, whatever you will, about Tournament policies." In five years, Jones would be fifty years old and beyond competing in the Masters. He and Roberts had both felt that it would be inappropriate for him to have any official involvement in the running of the tournament or the selection of the field for as long as he was a competitor. But Roberts hoped that his friend would take charge of the tournament as soon as his playing days were over, and he reiterated this desire in other letters as w ell.

Whether that transition would actually have taken place will never be known, because events in the intervening years dramatically altered Jones's life. In a press release issued early in 1949, Roberts explained what had happened: "As the result of an injury to the upper part of the spine which is believed by his doctors to have occurred when he was quite young," Roberts wrote, "Bob has occasionally suffered, for some years, from what he called a 'crick' in his neck and a lame shoulder." Roberts had also noticed at some point that Jones had begun to drag one foot. "The first noticeable discomfort," Roberts continued, "occurred in Scotland in 1926, but the exact cause of the trouble was never accurately determined until 1948." At that time, Jones was diagnosed with syringomyelia, a rare and devastating disease in which a fluid-filled cavity forms inside the spinal cord and, as it grows over a period of months or years, destroys the center of it. Typical symptoms include numbness, difficulty in walking, weakness of the arms and legs, deformation of the hands, and chronic pain. The symptoms are almost always progressive, as they were in Jones's case, and even today for the vast majority of patients there is no cure. Treatments in Jones's day were crude and almost invariably ineffective. He underwent two operations, but they didn't help.

Jones never played golf again. More than fifty of the club's members chipped in to buy him a golf cart, which was among the first to be manufactured, so that he could drive himself around the property and visit friends on the course. The cart became Jones's link to the club and the Masters. He was too ill to take Roberts's place as the chairman of the tournament , but he continued to consult with Roberts on club and tournament matters until shortly before the end of his life. His main public appearances during the tournament were at a dinner for Masters winners held on Tuesday of Masters week, at a dinner for the amateur players held on Wednesday, and at the awards ceremony following the conclusion of the final round.

Today, the guest list for the Amateur Dinner includes not only the amateur competitors -- of whom there are now typically four or five -- but also five or six dozen others, among them the amateur honorary invitees, various officials of the United States Golf Association and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, and numerous members. The first amateur dinner was held in 1948 at the suggestion of Charles Yates, who had played in every Masters through 1947. When he stopped competing, Jones and Roberts asked him if he could help them think of a way to make the amateur players feel more at home. Golf was changing and amateurs were no longer stars, as they had been during the heydays of Jones and Yates. "I said that we ought to have a pep rally," Yates recalls, "so that the amateurs wouldn't feel so much in awe of these professionals they'd heard so much about." The dinner was the result.

Jones loved the Amateur Dinner. On the day of the dinner in 1968, the last year he came to Augusta for the Masters, he was in considerable pain but was still determined to attend. He told Yates, though, that he didn't feel well, and he asked not to be called on to speak. Yates complied, and was preparing to dismiss the gathering when he felt a tug on his jacket. It was Jones. With a great effort, he drew himself to the podium and said, in a voice that was scarcely audible, "I just want to say a few words...."

Roberts and Jones had always spoken at the dinners. Roberts would typically offer advice and inside knowledge about the course. He would remind the amateurs that they could learn a great deal by keeping their eyes open as they played -- for example, by looking through the trees to see where the hole had been cut on the third green as they walked down the second fairway. Jones would usually tell stories.

"There was one story that Bob always used to tell," Yates recalls, "and it became a tradition to call on him to tell it. It concerned a new member of the club who was a nervous sort of fellow. He was attending his first Jamboree, and after dinner he got involved in a bridge game that deteriorated into poker. To settle his nerves he was drinking pretty steadily, and when they finally poured him into bed, at three o'clock in the morning, he was as drunk as a hoot owl.

"Well, at eight o'clock they awakened him and took him out to the first tee. This fellow had a handicap of eighteen, a stroke a hole, and he was paired with a fellow who had a handicap that was much lower. On the first tee, the low-handicap fellow sliced his ball so far that it hasn't been found yet. Now, our hero, who was about to jump out of his skin, stepped up on the tee and topped his drive down the hill. The ground was hard, and it rolled to the bottom. When he got to it, his caddie gave him a spoon -- and he topped it again. But the ball bounced along and bounced along past that trap on the right side of the fairway, and it rolled up to where he had about a hundred and twenty-five yards to the green. He said to his caddie, 'What should I use now?' And the caddie said , 'Oh, just go ahead and use the one you've got -- it doesn't make any difference.' Well, he topped the ball a third time. The pin was cut over there on the left, behind that trap. The ball rolled up the front of the green, just missing the trap, and stopped about six feet from the hole.

"So here was our hero with a six-foot putt for par, which would be a net birdie, and his partner was in his pocket. When he stood up to the ball, his hands were shaking on his putter. They kept shaking and he took the putter back. Then, just as he stroked the ball, a great big collie dog came running up from somewhere, and it ran between his legs. Miraculously, though, the ball went into the hole, and the low-handicap fellow rushed up and said, 'Partner, that's the greatest display of coolness and calmness under fire I've ever seen. How in the hell did you make that putt when that collie dog was running right between your legs?' And the fellow said, 'My God -- was that a real dog?'"

Copyright © 1999 by Augusta National, Inc.

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