This year’s Augusta Mayor’s Masters Reception will honor its first female golfer, LPGA champ Nancy Lopez.
Mayor Hardie Davis announced Wednesday the previously canceled event was back on, with special guests Lopez, who he greatly admired, and longtime reception chairman Wayne Hawkins.
“In the history of golf, the word has an acronym: Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden. Not today,” Davis said.
Instead, on the heels of International Women’s Day and with Women’s History Month ongoing, “we can talk about the contributions that women have made in the history of all sports,” Davis said.
“When we talk about the history of golf, there is one woman who comes to mind as a legend, not just in the LPGA but in the history of the game that we know as golf. That lady is Mrs. Nancy Lopez, our 2016 Mayor’s Masters Reception honoree,” the mayor said.
Lopez is a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and winner of 48 LPGA Tour events, including three major championships.
Davis said change was to be expected. The annual reception was started by former Mayor Bob Young as a mixer at Julian Smith Casino. In 2004 it shifted to honor a single Masters Tournament champion, Arnold Palmer.
Since 2004, honorees have included Masters winners Ben Crenshaw, Billy Casper, Tom Watson, Craig Stadler, Larry Mize and Fuzzy Zoeller but last year, at Davis’ first reception, longtime Crenshaw caddie and Augusta native Carl Jackson was the honoree.
“It is again time to share another turning point in the history of the Masters Reception,” Davis said.
At a Wednesday news conference, Davis said the reception will also honor Hawkins, longtime event chairman with whom he butted heads over last year’s event.
This year, Hawkins said he’d had to cancel after organizers couldn’t locate an honoree.
The pair were all smiles Wednesday, and Hawkins said he’d already turned over the event checking account to Davis, whose office secured an honoree, vendors and sponsors in record time.
“His office has done a tremendous job in a short amount of time to get all the pieces put together,” Hawkins said.
The reception, open to the public for a nominal ticket price, is held at Augusta Common on the Monday of Masters Week, April 4. The reception offers guests a taste of Augusta from numerous local restaurants that participate.