Masters Traditions: Landmarks
The most famous drive at Augusta National doesn’t involve a golf club or ball.
The entrance to the club off Washington Road stretches 330 yards and is known for the dozens of large magnolia trees, which originated in the late 1850s. Magnolia Lane was paved for the first time in 1947, but that doesn’t diminish the charm or thrill for golfers making the trip. Nor does it alleviate the pressure one is about to encounter.
“The Masters is the only tournament I ever knew where you choke when you drive through the front gate,” three-time winner Gary Player once said.
The Augusta National clubhouse was built in 1854 to serve as the home of indigo plantation owner Dennis Redmond.
The three-story building is believed to be the first concrete house built in the South. The walls were 18 inches thick, but several cracks were evident after a large earthquake centered in Charleston, S.C., in the late 1800s.
From the veranda, you can peer down Magnolia Lane and overlook Founders Circle, which pays tribute to Masters Tournament co-founders Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts. On the inside, the permanent Masters Trophy and an oil painting by President Dwight D. Eisenhower are some of the golf treasures that fill the well-appointed rooms.
Several changes have been made to the structure in the eight decades since Jones bought the property. Those include the addition of the Trophy Room and kitchen in 1946, construction of the golf pro shop in 1953 and the addition of a Grill Room in 1962. Most recently, the Grill Room and locker room were remodeled in 2003.
The water that causes so much trouble for golfers at Amen Corner is named for Irishman John Rae, who came to Augusta in 1734 and lived near the creek’s confluence with the Savannah River. His house was the farthest fortress up the river from Fort Augusta and kept residents safe during Indian attacks.
Rae, who died in 1789, would enjoy prosperity as a trader and built a grist mill near the creek in the 1760s.
Rae’s Creek flows behind the 11th green where a dam is located and continues directly in front of the 12th green.
A tributary of the creek winds along the 13th fairway and crosses in front of the green.
The Hogan Bridge honors Ben Hogan’s score of 274 in 1953, then the lowest 72-hole score in Masters history.
It is left of the 12th green and is used to cross Rae’s Creek.
The bridge was dedicated by Augusta National on April 2, 1958, and a plaque reads in part: “This score will always stand as one of the very finest accomplishments in competitive golf.”
The Nelson Bridge commemorates Byron Nelson’s charge of a birdie at No. 12 and an eagle at No. 13 to win in 1937.
It is at the No. 13 tee and also crosses Rae’s Creek.
The bridge was dedicated by Augusta National on the same day as the Hogan Bridge, and the plaque reads in part: “He scored 2-3 to pick up six strokes on Ralph Guldahl and win the 1937 Masters.”
The Sarazen Bridge marks Gene Sarazen’s double eagle on the 15th hole in the final round in 1935. It enabled him to tie Craig Wood, and Sarazen prevailed the next day in the tournament’s only 36-hole playoff.
Augusta National unveiled the Sarazen Bridge on April 6, 1955.
It was designed by Augusta architect H. Lowrey Stulb, and it is located to the left of the pond fronting the 15th green.
The flat footbridge was dedicated in 1955 to commemorate Sarazen’s “Shot Heard ’Round the World.”
“It isn’t a bridge,” Stulb said, “but we’ll call it that.”