AUGUSTA, Ga. – Part of Augusta National’s tradition of honoring amateurs is allowing them to stay in the club’s Crow’s Nest, a 30-by-40 foot room in the clubhouse’s cupola, complete with barracks-style sleeping areas and a bathroom.
Since 1969, 137 players have stayed in the Crow’s Nest Masters week –including future champions Tiger Woods, Ben Crenshaw and Trevor Immelman – and it is always surreal emerging from the stairs that lead up to the room and into the club’s dining room.
“You feel like you walk out of a phone booth,” said Matt Kuchar, who stayed in the Crow’s Nest in 1998 along with Tim Clark. “I didn’t realize you were walking into the dining area and when I came out I was like, whoa. And the people were surprised to see me.”
Billy Andrade may have the most famous Crow’s Nest story. In 1987, Andrade was staying in the clubhouse with Chris Kite.
“You’re all excited,” Andrade remembered. “It’s Monday at the Masters and I came down the stairs in my golf spikes and I grab a doughnut and there was a guy there, he was in workout gear and he was a real old guy, like my grandfather, and there was a guard there, and this guy just started in on me, ‘What are you doing here?’”
Andrade explained to the man he was staying in the Crow’s Nest and playing in the tournament, but that wouldn’t do.
“He said, ‘You don’t belong here,’” Andrade said. “I didn’t understand why he was so mad and I found out I was in the Champions locker room and I’m not allowed in there.”
Andrade apologized and as he was leaving the locker room he asked the guard who the man was? “That was Mr. Gene Sarazen, sir,” he said.
“I guess it’s become legendary to pull a Billy Andrade, you always go right and you never go left,” Andrade said.