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Architect's work part of National

April 6, 2011 - 12:00 am
H. Lowrey Stulb designed Augusta National's pro shop, Eisenhower Cabin and the Sarazen Bridge. "It isn't a bridge, but we'll call it that," said the 93-year-old who married National pro Ed Dudley's daughter.  File/Staff
File/Staff
H. Lowrey Stulb designed Augusta National's pro shop, Eisenhower Cabin and the Sarazen Bridge. "It isn't a bridge, but we'll call it that," said the 93-year-old who married National pro Ed Dudley's daughter.
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By Chris Gay |

 

H. Lowrey Stulb arrived at Augusta National Golf Club one day in 1953 for lunch with three of golf's greatest power brokers of the era.

The young architect believed his meeting with club and Masters Tournament co-founders Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, plus President Eisenhower, would be to discuss the design of the new white cabin to be built next to the 10th tee box. Stulb soon learned the discussion had little to do with him.

"All they wanted to do was talk about golf," he said. "I designed it like I thought it'd be."

If you look closely around the grounds of Augusta National this week, you'll see several pieces of Stulb's architecture. Along with the Eisenhower Cabin (also known as "Ike's Cabin"), Stulb designed the pro shop. He also designed one of the course's most famous landmarks, Sarazen Bridge.

Stulb came up with the idea for the structure, which runs to the left of the pond fronting the 15th green, to commemorate Gene Sarazen's "Shot Heard 'Round the World." The flat footbridge was dedicated 20 years after "The Squire" knocked in his famous double eagle, which led to his miraculous 1935 Masters win.

Six decades later, Stulb has just one qualm with the landmark.

"It isn't a bridge," he said, "but we'll call it that."

THE 93-YEAR-OLD STULB, a native Augustan, began his love affair with the Masters as a youth and would become a part of its history.

Stulb became passionate about the game of golf as a junior member at Augusta Country Club. There, he learned of an opportunity to serve as a gallery guard for the first invitational held by Jones and Roberts.

The 16-year-old Stulb, who graduated two years early from Richmond Academy, jumped at the chance.

On the Wednesday before the 1934 Masters Tournament, players competed in an alternate-shot format event. Stulb followed Bobby Jones and his teammate Ross Somerville in the same foursome as reigning U.S. Amateur champion George Dunlap and Emmett French.

Stulb wore his cadet uniform and held one end of a cane pole while another cadet held the other end to prevent patrons from walking too close to the players.

Stulb kept a hole-by-hole account on an official Augusta National scorecard, which listed the championship yardage at 6,700 yards and the caddy fee at 75 cents.

The Jones team bogeyed the first three holes (now Nos. 10-12) and scored 76. The Dunlap group faltered down the stretch, posting bogey at No. 14 (now No. 5) and followed with bogey-bogey-double bogey-double bogey for 79.

Stulb still owns the scorecard from that round, a rare piece of Masters history that was thought lost until a few years ago. Stulb found it after rummaging through his garage and discovering his old cadet uniform.

"Boy, was I surprised to find that scorecard in my pocket," Stulb said. "I got lucky to draw Bobby Jones on that day."

The next year, Stulb was on the grounds when Sarazen recorded his famous double eagle. Stulb said he heard the loud roar, but, "I'm the only person who didn't see it," he said.

AFTER HIS MASTERS STINT, Stulb attended Georgia Tech and Princeton, earning his degree in architecture. He later joined the Army Corps of Engineers during World War II, spending his days designing airfields, among other things.

After the war, he started his architectural firm in 1945. Five years later, he married Elizabeth Dudley, daughter of Augusta National's first golf professional, Ed Dudley. Being Dudley's son-in-law had its privileges, including inheriting memorabilia from the 15-time PGA Tour winner, who served as the PGA of America president from 1942-48.

One of Dudley's treasures that Stulb received is a priceless piece of Augusta National memorabilia. Dudley and a fellow Augusta National member ("Warren, an oil man from Texas," Stulb said) won the club's 1950 Jamboree. Dudley received a sterling silver box -- a humidor -- with an etching of the Augusta National clubhouse on the top.

"It is absolutely beautiful," Stulb said.

Because he was Dudley's son-in-law, Stulb received a call from Roberts to design Eisenhower Cabin. Stulb configured the seven-bedroom structure with amenities including a soundproof office for the president to conduct official business.

Stulb continued his work around the course in the 1950s until he got too busy with other projects around town. He designed many Augusta buildings, including the original two-story downtown library and Butler High School.

"I was working myself around the clock," he said.

Now well into retirement, Stulb doesn't reflect much on his designs at Augusta National. Instead, he savors his memories and a few prized possessions.

Though his initial meeting with Eisenhower, Jones and Roberts didn't go as planned, Stulb received satisfaction. After completing Eisenhower Cabin, he received a gold medallion from the president.

"I don't give it much thought," Stulb said. "But I am proud of that gold piece."

Reach Chris Gay at (706) 823-3645 orchris.gay@augustachronicle.com.