The Masters: Who is in the top 10 heading to Augusta?
As one of the most prestigious sites in golf, Augusta National holds a great deal of history in the sport. And the course has gone to great lengths to preserve that sense of prestige, including efforts to ensure some secrets stay ‘for members’ eyes only’.
Certain details have inevitably reached public ears over the years, such as the CCTV cameras hidden among the trees or records held by non-celebrity members. The late Dr. Val Hastings holds one such accolade, tying Tiger Woods and Steve Pate’s record for seven consecutive birdies when he once completed a sensational 30 over the back stretch.
But there are still matters of Augusta intrigue coming to light today, some of which have been covered in finer detail by Golf.com. And what better time to bone up on the behind-the-scenes details than ahead of the 2023 Masters teeing off on Thursday?
1. Bill Gates’ budget board
There has long been stories about the ‘no exception’ policy when it comes to Augusta’s strict rules, like the veteran member once given bin duty after he was seen sporting his Green Jacket outside the grounds (a major no-no). And the authorities take their guidelines seriously, even if you happen to be one of the richest people on the planet.
Microsoft mogul Bill Gates found exactly that when he registered at the club and attempted to find on-site accommodation for the members-only ‘Jamboree’ event, only to find everything was booked up. Given the privilege is decided on member seniority, Gates was relegated to the nearby Red Roof Inn, where a night can cost as little as £50.
2. Underground labyrinth
Walking is a key element in golf, and making one’s way around the iconic sites, bridges and paths at Augusta is part of the Masters experience. But what if one told you there was an alternative route that goes unseen by the average eye?
That’s because the course comprises a web of underground tunnels restricted for use by delivery trucks and guests who otherwise wish to remain unseen. As if getting into Augusta’s above-ground grounds wasn’t exclusive enough.
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3. Culinary cache
The Masters Champions Dinner has become the stuff of legend, serving up any menu the previous year’s winner can dream up to a soiree of fellow Green Jacket members. And Augusta takes great pride in its culinary delights, which is evident in the fact there are a quite ridiculous 27 kitchens spread across the grounds.
Some of these sites are unsurprisingly members-only, and it’s not just the food that gets the maximum-security treatment. Augusta is known to host a hulking wine cellar, which features an infrared thumbprint lock only the sommelier can open, while it’s understood one package of plonk belonged to the club’s founding chairman, Clifford Roberts, and is locked up indefinitely.
4. Pondlife predators
Water hazards are meant to be avoided—as the title suggests—but there’s one pond in particular where you don’t want to fall afoul. Or creek, that is—Rae’s Creek, to be precise—located in the waters near Amen’s Corner.
It’s said a snapping turtle ‘the size of a manhole cover’ resides underneath Nelson Bridge, posing a special danger to anyone brave enough to go fishing for stray balls. Snapping turtles are native across all of Georgia and some surrounding states, but one of golf’s biggest majors also plays host to one of the sport’s biggest beasties.
5. Eisenhower’s desk
Numerous presidents have taken a firm interest in golf, from George W. Bush holding interviews at the tee to Donald Trump’s belligerent boasting over his handicap. But perhaps none hold quite the same prestige as Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had a huge pine tree at Augusta named after him after it was said he unsuccessfully campaigned for it to be removed because it affected his game.
The tree is no longer standing, but one of Eisenhower’s presidential desks remains in the library at Augusta, having spent many a vacation at the course both before and during his presidency. ‘Ike’ was a frequent visitor to Augusta and even had a cabin built on-site, designed in collaboration with the Secret Service, which has since been used by other presidents.
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