Over the years, the beautiful course that is Augusta National Golf Club – home of this weekend’s 76th Masters Tournament – has provided unforgettable thrills and drama. Whether you are lucky enough to watch the Masters in person, or view it like most on TV, you can’t help but get caught up in the annual thrills that this event produces. A good friend of mine is fortunate to be there in person to witness the action first-hand. A few of the reasons why Augusta National Golf Club is so popular is because of its rich tradition, some of which includes:
- A green jacket has been awarded to the winner since 1949, which must be returned to the clubhouse after a year.
- The Champions dinner, inaugurated by Ben Hogan in 1952, is held on the Tuesday before each tournament, and is open only to past champions and certain board members of the Augusta National Golf Club.
- Beginning in 1963, legendary golfers, usually past champions, have hit an honorary tee shot on the morning of the first round. Such golfers have included Fred McLeod, Jock Hutchinson, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus. Gary Player joined that group this year.
- Since 1960, a semi-social Par 3 Contest, on a par-3 course on Augusta National’s grounds, has been played on the day before the first round of each Masters Tournament.
With a population of roughly 200,000, Augusta is located on the south bank of the Savannah River midway between the Great Smokey Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s an easy three-hour drive from Atlanta.
Though the crown jewel of Augusta golf is clearly Augusta National, with its towering pines, and azaleas, and dogwoods, many visitors to the Masters get their golf fix at one or more of the area’s dozen courses that invite non-member play. They include: Applewood Golf Course, Augusta Municipal Golf Course, Bartram Trail Golf Club, Forest Hills Golf Club, Gordon Lakes Golf Course, Goshen Plantation Golf Club, Jones Creek Golf Club, Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Club, Pointe South Golf Club, River Golf Club, The First Tee of Augusta, and Three Oaks Golf Club. For more information on Augusta and these fine golf courses, visit http://www.augustaga.org/. Have a very Happy Easter and enjoy the rest of the Masters Tournament.