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

Overview

The Masters. For any golf fan, the words evoke the immortal greats of the game and their quest for the most prized trophy of all — the green jacket of Augusta National Golf Club.
But behind the legendary links and timeless traditions is one of the most overlooked and misunderstood figures in the history of the Masters and Augusta National: Clifford Roberts, the club's chairman from its founding in 1931 until shortly before his death in 1977. Roberts' meticulous attention to ...

See more details below
Paperback (Reprint)
$12.12
BN.com price
(Save 36%)$18.99 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (24) from $1.99   
  • New (5) from $10.88   
  • Used (19) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

Overview

The Masters. For any golf fan, the words evoke the immortal greats of the game and their quest for the most prized trophy of all — the green jacket of Augusta National Golf Club.
But behind the legendary links and timeless traditions is one of the most overlooked and misunderstood figures in the history of the Masters and Augusta National: Clifford Roberts, the club's chairman from its founding in 1931 until shortly before his death in 1977. Roberts' meticulous attention to detail, his firm authoritarian hand, and his refusal to settle — even for perfection — helped build the Masters into the tournament it is today, and Augusta National into every golfer's idea of heaven on earth.
David Owen was granted unprecedented access to the archives and records of Augusta National Golf Club. He has produced an honest and affectionate chronicle of the Masters, from its conception to its modern greatness, and a fascinating portrayal of Clifford Roberts — whose perseverance and pride forged the Augusta National we know today.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

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.

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)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684867519
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 4/2/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 377,011
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (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.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

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 Roberts and Jones increasingly viewed as one of its responsibilities. They had founded the Masters partly out of financial necessity, but they had also had a more idealistic goal of helping to build the game. Hosting the senior event, they believed, was both an opportunity and an obligation. As a result, Augusta National can be viewed as having helped give rise to the earliest ancestor of the Senior P.G.A. Tour.

A similar sense of purpose was evident in the club's involvement, in the early forties, in a proposal to build a golf hall of fame. In 1941, two new Augusta National members — James Middleton Cox, a newspaper publisher, who years earlier had served three terms as the governor of Ohio, and his son, James Jr. — proposed erecting a large statue of Bobby Jones near the clubhouse, not far from what would later become the site of the Eisenhower Cabin. Jones and Roberts were deeply unenthusiastic about the monument, and both were relieved when the Coxes, at Roberts's suggestion, shifted their attention to the possibility of building a hall of fame on club property. The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum had opened in Cooperstown, New York, two years before, and the Professional Golfers' Association had responded by inducting several legendary golfers, among them Jones, into its own hall. But the P.G.A.'s hall as yet had neither a building nor a plan for one.

Roberts embraced the idea and suggested several sites. His favorite, initially, was an elevated six-acre parcel roughly two hundred and fifty yards to the east of the tenth green. This was one of the building lots that the club had been trying to sell for a decade. Among the advantages of the site, Roberts wrote to Jones, was that 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 day'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. Both 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 following 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 said, '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 appetite 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 inscription. 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 believed 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 of 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 printed 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 other 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 the 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 lifted 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

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

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

Read More Show Less

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.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 14, 2010

    Great introduction to the history of The Masters

    I was recommended this book by a friend and found myself completely engrossed. It is a fascinating summary of the making of the greatest tournament and course in golf. I've gone on to delve deeper into Clifford Roberts' life. Great for anyone interested in The Masters!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)