When he took over the grounds at Augusta in 1931, Bobby Jones could never have imagined creating a tournament, let alone the Masters. But financial difficulties in the beginning decided otherwise after three years …
A simple article dated July 15, 1931 in a local newspaper puts the legend back in the news. Newly retired from the Greens at just 28 years old, author of 1930 Grand Slam Bobby Jones He announced that he and a group of friends are investing in a nursery in Georgia, in Augusta, to build a perfect golf course for him under the name Augusta National Golf Club.
“My ambition is to create one of the greatest courses in the world”
Humble Among the humble, Bobby Jones is not so ambitious. Announce: ” Join a group of friends from among the founders of a new club, Augusta National Golf Club. My ambition is to help build something recognizable as one of the greatest courses in the world His dream will soon become a reality.
Augusta, a new winter golf destination
The news created a stir and heralded new prospects for tourism in Augusta. The climate, which is very mild during the winter season, should attract new clients, including a large number of golfers. The latter can also build second homes nearby. The prestigious name of Bobby Jones will convince them even if the club is only open from November to April…
The first obstacles and the first disappointments
The crisis of 1929 is still wreaking havoc and investor fears remain. Behind the scenes, the construction of the track continues without difficulties. Several initially planned investments have also been cancelled, including the new club (in favor of the current home) and the second tournament initially intended for women.
The principal partner of Jones and the real principal role of the club, the New York banker Clifford Roberts It depends on the sale of a lot of building land (after giving up the second cycle) and on a wave of new members to meet the first needs. However, it does not give any of the expected results. By way of comparison the Augusta Club calculates before the opening of the session, 66 members in 1932. promising personality. Two years later, they just 10 more…
Fortunately, the course is successful
entrusted to the architect Alistair Mackenzie, under the direction of Bobby Jones, the course officially came off the ground in December 1932. The first opinions were unanimous: It was a great course suitable for the average golfer! This is indeed Jones’ first ambition: the course should delight all its members.
The aborted project to host the US Open
Among the characters who discover the earth with pleasure, Prescott Bush, chair of the USGA Championship Committee (father and grandfather of future US presidents) invokes the possibility of hosting the 1934 US Open in Augusta. But for this, the club must open in June and that is because it can accommodate a large number of spectators. impossible.
The idea for the championship appeared in Clifford Roberts
Due to increasing financial difficulties and indebtedness, the club has to find new members. Realizing the publicity of the US Open, imagine Clifford Roberts next Create a club tournament Who can join the PGA Tour each year. He received a grant from the Mayor of Augusta worth $10,000 with an incredible promise, able to bring in crowds and… dollars.
The Augusta National Invitational Championship was born in 1934
Roberts knows it well: to save his club from possible bankruptcy, Bobby Jones will agree to play again. After nearly four years of inactivity at the highest level, the Champion announces his comeback but refuses to call the tournament “The Masters”. He goes to the Augusta National Invitational Championships until the master of the place in 1939 finally accepts the name of the day.