The first time I traveled to Rome I visited the Colosseum and the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps and a lot of the other ancient ruins that are scattered across the Eternal City. It was a rare instance where something so popular and so hyped far exceeded my expectations. The same thing can be said for Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters golf tournament.
This week we went to the Masters for the first time. It was better than I could have ever imagined. Never in my life have I been to an event that was meticulously managed, more seamlessly executed and more enjoyable. Every touchpoint is considered. Every brand moment well-thought out. No organization goes to greater lengths to think through every aspect of something the way ANGC does with the Masters.
If you can find a way to make it to Augusta once in your life, do it. You won’t regret it. It’s the most meticulously manicured piece of land I have ever encountered. It’s an 18-hole American Versailles. Before setting foot on the grounds I heard that ANGC was stunning, but I never knew just how beautiful of a place it is. I wondered about the history of the land that Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts choose to site what would become one of the most famous golf courses in the world. The acreage was originally the Fruitlands Plantation and was later a nursey before the land was sold to Jones and Roberts. The fact that Augusta National was a nursey is the reason the holes are all based on flowering trees or shrubs like azalea, Pink Dogwood, and Carolina Cherry. Another interesting historical tidbit is that Magnolia Lane was originally planted al the way back in 1858 and 1859 by Belgian born horticulturist L.E.M Berckmans. There is a lot of interesting historical information known about the site.
The night before the opening round of competition we planned our approach to the day over Velvet Hammers at the Augusta Country Club. Seasoned Masters patrons instructed us to start by organizing on the #1 tee to hear the honorary starters Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, and then head immediately to Amen Corner while it was quiet. Obviously, I had seen this stretch of the course on TV, but it wasn’t until my visit to the Masters did I learn the origin of the name for the 11th, 12th and 13th holes. Famed Sports Illustrated writer Herbert Warren Wind named Amen Corner and along the way it has become the most iconic part of the golf course. SI has done an amazing job digitizing its archives and the original April 21, 1958 story of Amen Corner is below. If you can’t be bothered to read the scans, you can see that story online here.