Bubba Watson pulls off the hook shot of a lifetime from the pine straw in the tress on the second playoff hole of the Masters to win his first green jacket. What an amazing finish!
And to think this finish almost never happened had it not been for the vision and determination of two leaders.
The great Bobby Jones and prominent New York investment banker, Clifford Roberts met several times at tournaments during Jones’ tremendous career.
The land that now represents championship greatness almost never came to be had it not been for a devastating hurricane in Miami in 1926 that ruined the tourism industry. Commodore Stoltz was one of the biggest investors in the industry with his hotel group. It had been his next big move to build another one of his great hotels in Augusta on the Fruitland Nursery land tearing down the “old farmhouse” in place of his luxury Fleetwood Hotel.
Other plans were in store for this land.
Roberts, who lost much of his net-worth in the Great Depression, figured the elite would line up to make an investment in a new course behind the legendary golfer Jones. Instead they struggled to secure funding to begin construction from an elite class that was adverse to more risk during the uncertain times in 1931.
The two leaders began construction anyway in February 1932 although the project was nearly shut down several times due to a lack of funding. It was completed in only three months for roughly $100,000.
In fact, for most of the 1930’s a lack of funding plagued Augusta National Golf Club as it struggled to find members. The plan was to enlist 1800 members with an initiation fee of only $350 (about the same as $6100 today).
The club secured only 66 members and officially opened for play on January 13, 1933.
Jones and Roberts worked tirelessly to find ways to secure new members for their struggling club, which almost went bankrupt in 1935.
The idea was to replace “the farmhouse” with a grand southern mansion, but the continued lack of funding prevented this from happening.
The next idea was to have the U.S. Open be played on their new course, but were denied the opportunity.
Finally, they decided to host their own tournament, initially called the Invitation, which was first played in March 1934. Always designed as a winter course, March was chosen because it was the time when sports writers were headed back north from spring training in Florida.
The Invitation tournament was not played during WWII, and the grounds were actually turned over into cattle grazing tended by youth.
Then President Eisenhower an avid golfer took great interest in the young club giving the club national recognition and notoriety.
Then Arnold Palmer with his flashy golfing style plus the introduction of television put Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament on center stage of the golfing world.
The Masters almost wasn’t had it not been for “chance” events, the vision of one man to build the ideal golf course, the resolve of two great leaders, strategic decisions, and the recognition of notable people. Had it not been for all this coming together at just the right time the club we admire and the tournament we love would not have been.
Scott Noble and Barry Spencer are two leaders from different complementary backgrounds that have created a better way for the affluent to plan their wealth so that it has impact and removes the regrets it creates. Go to www.boomfishwealthgroup.com to request their latest special report, “The 7 Regrets Wealth Creates and How To Avoid Them.”