Readers tell their stories of playing Augusta National


Last week we asked you to send us your stories about the day you played Augusta National Golf Club. As we read through the entries, one question came to the top of our minds: How can one place spawn story after story, each unique to its teller? That answer is left unknown, and that's fine. We enjoy it that way.
Without further adieu, here is our effort to capture some of the best stories, as told in their entirety by the storytellers themselves:

Trust your caddie
by Chris Hamman
Wichita, Kan.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to play at Augusta National in 1993. My anticipation leading up to that November day was obviously through the roof and expectations were extremely high for this life-long golfer. I just hoped that I could somehow play well enough to frame the scorecard.

To see my name on the list at the front gate, drive up Magnolia Lane, have a caddie in the traditional white jumpsuit take my clubs, and eat lunch inside the clubhouse prior to the round was more than enough to create memories to last a lifetime. I kept asking myself if this day could really be happening!

Next, I was headed to the range to warm up before the round where I met up with my caddie. His name was Roosevelt. I quickly learned that Roosevelt had caddied at Augusta for many, many years and in fact, had caddied in several Masters Tournaments before the golfers were allowed to bring their own caddies.

After somehow hitting a good drive on the first hole (while my heart was jumping out of my chest), Roosevelt and I were talking about the approach shot. I vividly remember that I was 138 yards out (remember, this was from the member tees and pre-lengthening of the course) with a slight wind behind me. The pin was on the far right side of the green and I mentioned to Roosevelt that I was nervous and just wanted to hit a 9-iron to the middle of the green.

“No, sir,' he told me.

“What do you mean,” I responded. “The middle of the green is fine with me.”

“No, sir, you need to stay right of the pin.”

I told Roosevelt that there is no green right of the pin, and he told me, 'I know sir, but if you go left of the pin you're gonna putt the ball off the green.”

Recognizing that Roosevelt must know what he was talking about, I proceeded to hit the shot about 30 feet right of the pin, but 15 feet off the green about pin high. Roosevelt said it was a good shot, but I wasn't so sure.

One of my fellow golfers did hit his second shot to the middle-left side of the green about 40 feet away. Since he was out, he putted before I hit my third shot and he literally putted the ball off the green and almost hit my foot. I looked at Roosevelt and he just smiled revealing what might have been a wooden tooth. On my third shot, I chipped the ball into the hole. I was one under par at Augusta National and I never questioned Roosevelt for the remainder of the round.

He perfectly read the 6-foot putt I had on the last hole to shoot a 79.

Very few things in life exceed your expectations, but this day sure did and yes, the scorecard is framed.

Thanks Roosevelt. It was a true pleasure.

Jumping the fence at Augusta National
by Allen Miller
Silver Creek, N.Y.
5-time Masters participant

Playing in my first Masters in 1969, I was staying in the Crows Nest, an area at the very top of the main clubhouse, partitioned into five or six small bedrooms where the amateur participants were allowed to stay as guests of the club.

Steve Melnyk was also staying there and we were early arrivals so we were the sole residents on this night.

We were friends with the golf professional, Dave Spencer, and he invited us to his house for pizza and a few games of cards. He picked us up at about 6 and we were going to return about 10.

Time flew and suddenly we all realized it was almost 11 p.m.

He was going to return us to the National for the night, the only problem was the main gate closed at 10 and the complex was shut tight.

Dave said he knew what we could do. He had a key for the maintenance area gate that bordered on the par-3 course. Dave drove us there, opened the gate and then drove his car up to the tall hedges that separated the par-3 from the maintenance area.

“Get up on my hood and then jump over the hedge and onto the course, then you can walk to the clubhouse,” he said.

So we did.

As we approached the clubhouse, Steve was well ahead of me, maybe 40 yards. I saw him turn to enter the front entrance ahead of me.

All of a sudden I hear this voice behind me say, “Stop right where you are!”

Startled by the voice, knowing that there were very few people inside the complex, and it was late, I turned around to look at who had demanded that.

There stood a security guard with his gun drawn, looking just like Barney Fife of the Andy Griffith show – right out of Mayberry R.F.D.

“Where are you going,” he asked.

I explained that I was staying up in the Crow’s Nest, had been at the club pro’s house, he had helped us jump the fence and was going to bed.

Clifford Roberts was the Tournament Chairman in those days and he ran the complex with an iron fist. If anyone did something he did not like he would fire then in a second, no questions asked. If he so chose, he could also tell a player that their invitation to playing in the Masters was being taken away. Everyone was on their best behavior around Mr. Roberts.

The guard then said to me, “Do you know what Mr. Roberts would do to you if he found out what you just did?”

Without hesitation, I replied, “Do you know what he would do to you if he found out how far I just got?”

Barney, stunned, just weakly replied, “Goodnight, sir.”

And off I went to bed.

It's good to have an uncle...
by George Purnell
Boynton Beach, Fla.

I was very fortunate to have an uncle who was a member at Augusta National. In 1987 he invited my two identical triplet brothers and I for a 5-day trip two weeks after the Masters. The grounds were in full bloom with azaleas galore. I flew down with my uncle on a Saturday morning before my brothers arrived later in the day and was able to get an early round in that afternoon. I was immediately in awe of the grounds and landscaping and it is so true about the tingling one gets arriving down Magnolia Lane. I played seven rounds and my brothers played six in addition to the par-3 course.

I was playing to about a 12 handicap at the time and I shot 92 and birdied No. 13 with a 20-foot putt. I remember being so excited because of the potential trouble on that hole. I followed with rounds of 89, 83, 88 (from the tips, for fun), 86, 86, 86 and a 31 on the par 3.

We stayed in the Eisenhower cottage and never left the property for five days. Some other memorable thoughts were having unbelievably good caddies who helped you every step of the way, the beautiful wood-paneled men's locker room, the surreal experience of playing on the same grounds where the greatest living golf legends took the same steps, and the delicious dinners in the Champions dining room with the members required to wear their Masters jacket while on property.

We were fortunate to meet Hord Hardin, the President at the time. And how can one forget the Eisenhower Tree, Sarazen Bridge, Hogan's Bridge and, of course, Amen Corner. The best I could do was +1 in 7 rounds on those three treacherous holes that Warren Wind made so famous. Yet, I was able to score a par 72 as a ringer score (best score accumulated on all rounds played). My uncle won out with a 69.

My uncle has died since but my brothers were blessed for five days to have had a truly wonderful golfing experience and we have played in Scotland, Ireland and Pine Valley in addition to many other of Golf Magazine's top 100 courses. Augusta National will always be the most memorable.

Orders from a Brigadier General
by Lou Miles
South Jordan, Utah

In about 1983 I was a Major assigned as the Public Affairs officer at Ft. Gordon, Ga. in Augusta. A Brigadier General reported in as the new deputy commanding general.

The first day he called and said, 'Major, I want to play Augusta National, arrange it and call me when it's done!'

I replied, 'General you just don't arrange to play Augusta National.'

He replied, as Generals often do, 'Major, you obviously didn't hear what I said, arrange it and call me when it's done!'

Now this Brigadier General was one of the writers of my efficiency report so I was really concerned. That evening I saw my neighbor in his yard and told him my dilemma. Long story short, he put me in touch with a local member. The local member kindly agreed to get another member and said we would have two foursomes and I could bring 6 people.

Oh, I did all right.

One Brigadier General, four Colonel's and one lowly Major. I shot 90 and was thrilled! We also had a nice lunch and a tour of the clubhouse, locker rooms and the Eisenhower Cabin. All for $55 and a caddie tip. I'd love to do it again, but in the years since, the two members, senior citizens then, have probably passed away. What a great privilege and a never-to-be-forgotten experience! I was later promoted to LTC and was fortunate to play many wonderful golf courses in the U.S., Belgium, Germany and Italy.

If I could serve again, I would. God Bless our troops and the United States of America!