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The Masters' Points of Interest
As you turn off Washington Boulevard onto the property of Augusta National Golf Club, you travel down one of the most iconic roadways in golf — Magnolia Lane. Gorgeous eponymous trees line each side of the road as you make your way to the classic plantation clubhouse.
There is a reason that the clubhouse looks so much like an old southern plantation home. It’s because it was the home to plantation owner Dennis Redmond built in 1854. A few years later, the land and home were acquired by Baron Berckmans who turned it into the Fruitland Nurseries, which specialized in many types of trees and plants from around the world.
If Augusta National’s clubhouse resembles a plantation home, that’s because it was one.
At the top of the clubhouse sits the Crow’s Nest — a 30-by-40 foot room with an 11- by-11 foot cupola above it. Here, the amateur players that are fortunate enough to be invited to the Masters may share the room in the Crow’s Nest, which has five beds. Up a ladder to the cupola, they can spy great views of the golf course.
Hole 10 tumbles down a steep hill toward the green perched on a plateau. There is an odd bunker that sits in the fairway, well short of the putting surface. It is a remnant of the bunker that guarded the green many years ago when the hole was a shorter par-4. Few people remember that the current No. 10 also was the first hole on the front nine during the inaugural “Augusta National Invitational” (Masters) in 1934.
The next year, August co-founder Bobby Jones reversed the nines and put Augusta National on the route that we all know. Can you imagine the back nine without the No. 13 par-5, the downhill No. 15 par-5, and the delicate No. 16 par-3?
These holes make up much of the history and lore of the tournament. What is not known is who put the nines in the order of play for 1934. For many years, it was thought that course designer Alister MacKenzie had done it. But in 1983, an old framed map was discovered in a member’s apartment in the clubhouse. It was MacKenzie’s original routing of the course, which was very much like today’s order of play.
Did MacKenzie change his mind? Did he and Jones get together to change the nines? No one knows, but we are all better entertained by the superb golf we witness each spring with Augusta National’s current layout.
The most famous of the back nine holes may be those of Amen Corner. The long, downhill No. 11 par-4 with its green guarded by a deadly pond. No. 12 is a beautiful little par-3 that sits tantalizingly just over Rae’s Creek. And the best looking short par-5 I’ve ever seen is No. 13, which again uses the winding Rae’s Creek to protect the front of the green.
The beloved par-3 Hole 12 and Ben Hogan Bridge over Rae’s Creek at Augusta.
The back nine also has several commemorative bridges named for past Master’s champions. Spanning Rae’s Creek by the green at the par 3 No. 12 is the Ben Hogan Bridge. The 13th tee has the Byron Nelson Bridge. And the No. 15 par-5 hole has a bridge to honor Gene Sarazen’s “shot heard ‘round the world” when he made a double eagle two in 1935 to help him win the Masters.
In the clubhouse Trophy Room, you can actually see Sarazen’s legendary Wilson 4-wood and ball that he used to pull off that historic shot. Also on display are Bobby Jones’ Spalding clubs he used to win the Grand Slam in 1930.
Over in the Grill Room, you can find Tiger Woods’ Cobra driver that he used to win in 1997 and Larry Mize’s MacGregor wedge he used to chip in to defeat Greg Norman in the 1987 playoff.
The exclusive Champions Room at Augusta National, home of the Masters.
Augusta National Golf Club has many more historic points of interest. If you attend the Masters, you should budget some time for reviewing them. You absolutely will enjoy it.