Sport Masters 2021: A newly discovered letter from Bobby Jones reveals he might've had a different architect in mind for Augusta National
Masters 2021: Are these 9 famous Augusta National myths real or urban legends?
Masters 2021: Are these 9 famous Augusta National myths real or urban legends?As with most telling of tales, the stories tend to grow a little longer over time. Or perhaps not. When you have a place as special as Augusta National, some stories—heck, most stories—tend to actually be true to some degree. Here are some of the most spoken-about myths that circulate regarding the Masters along with our own Snopes-like assessments of their veracity.
There had never been debate throughout the history of Augusta National Golf Club that Alister MacKenzie was Bobby Jones’ first choice to design the. Up until now.
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Jones’ granddaughter, Anne Hood Laird, and her husband, Cody, inherited old office files of Jones after Carl Hood, the husband of Jones’ daughter, Mary Ellen, passed away. Cody Laird started digging through the files recently and happened upon a typed letter from Jones to British architect Sir Guy Campbell on Dec. 4, 1930.
That becomes interesting when you consider that Dr. MacKenzie did not sail for Augusta, Ga., from Great Britain until July 4, 1931, after receiving a July 2 letter from Clifford Roberts.
But most notably, in his letter to Campbell in Dec. 1930, Jones inquires whether the British architect "is interested in discussing the possibility of your undertaking the job." Jones goes on to ask about Campbell's fee if he's interested—but to keep the matter "strictly confidential."
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Here’s the entirety of the newly discovered letter from Bobby Jones to Campbell:
Let’s address a couple things.
A) Jones' letter refers to a "golfing hotel resort development," which was likely referring to the original plans for Augusta. Roberts clarified the plans in an unrelated letter, describing that the 364-acre Fruitland Nurseries property would be used for the building of two 18-hole courses and winter homes for the members to stay in.
B) After Campbell penned a five-page response letter on Dec. 29 expressing strong interest in Jones' offer, correspondence seemed to have ended. The Lairds are continuing to dig through files to see what else they can unearth, but it’s unclear why talks ended between Campbell and Jones.
It’s not known why Jones or Roberts did not disclose Jones’ intent to hire Campbell to design Augusta. The uniform consensus from the official disclosures from the club was that MacKenzie was always the first choice.
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Perhaps a little presumption came with the stories of Jones being so impressed by Pasatiempo in Santa Cruz, Calif., and offering him the job after walking Cypress Point with the Great Doctor in 1929. It seems the timeline is clear, and Campbell was in fact the first one contacted by Jones.
Of course, this new evidence creates many more questions, but it’s an interesting entry into the history of Augusta National.
Sidney Matthew is a golf historian. His full article on this subject is planned to be released in the British Golf Collectors Society Journal "Through the Green" later in 2021.
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Forty years after winning 1981 Masters, Tom Watson recalls accomplishing what few golfers have pulled off .
Byron Nelson taught Tom Watson how to handle major championship pressure after some Sunday failures early in his career. He noticed Watson walked too quickly and rushed his decision-making. Walking a beat slower had multiple benefits including a smoother rhythm to Watson’s swing. Nelson dispelled other morsels of wisdom, including this one that wedged into Watson’s head for all these years. “He said, ‘I always wanted to be a little bit unsure about my golf swing or the way I was playing because that made me sharp and focused,’ ” Watson said.