Augusta National Golf Club was founded by Bobby Jones, the legendary amateur champion, and Clifford Roberts, an astute investment banker in New York. Jones helped design the golf course, working alongside the esteemed British architect Dr. Alister Mackenzie. Jones’s popularity within the game helped attract golf’s biggest stars to the Masters, beginning with the inaugural event in 1934. Roberts oversaw innumerable details of the Tournament. He tirelessly sought to refine the Masters experience for the patrons and competitors and the wider world of golf. Following are short bios of each man’s life.
Bobby Jones Robert Tyre (Bobby) Jones, Jr., was born on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1902, in Atlanta, Georgia. As an amateur golfer, Jones dominated the game from the early 1920s through 1930. Jones won 13 of 21 major championships he entered over a seven-year span. His record includes five U. S. Amateur Championships, one British Amateur Championship, four U.S. Open Championships and three British Open Championships. In 1926 he was the first man ever to win the Open Championship of each country in the same year.In 1930, Jones accomplished the unprecedented feat of winning golf’s Grand Slam by capturing the British Amateur on the Old Course at St. Andrews, the British Open at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England, the U.S. Open at Interlachen Country Club in Minneapolis, and the U.S. Amateur at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. In 11 of the last 12 Open Championships he played—nine U.S. Opens and three British Opens— he finished first or second. Jones retired from competitive golf in 1930 at age 28. He came out of retirement only to play annually at the Masters. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974, three years after his death.
Off the course, Jones designed golf clubs; wrote four books, including Bobby Jones on Golf; penned hundreds of newspaper articles; and gave instructional performances in several movies. He helped found and make successful the Masters Tournament and Augusta National Golf Club, where he was named President in 1933 and remains President in Perpetuity.
Jones excelled academically as well. He studied engineering at Georgia Tech, earning a B.S. degree in mechanical engineering, and then completed a B.A. in English literature at Harvard. He later entered Emory University to pursue a degree in law, passing the bar exam after his first year of school.
He was married to the former Mary Malone and together they had three children, Clara Malone; Robert T., III; and Mary Ellen. Jones died in 1971 of the spinal disease syringomyelia at age 69.
Clifford Roberts was born on a farm in Morning Sun, Iowa, in 1894. An astute investment banker, Roberts made his mark on Wall Street as a Partner with Reynolds & Company.He was the co-founder with Bobby Jones of Augusta National Golf Club. Roberts served as Chairman of Augusta National from 1931 through 1976 and was named Chairman in Memoriam after his death in 1977. He was Chairman of the Masters Tournament from 1934 through 1976.
Under his direction, the Masters made numerous innovations that are now commonplace in golf. He changed the locations of perimeter mounds to improve gallery viewing. He was the first to use a series of Leader Boards placed throughout the course. He also devised a system for showing the cumulative score of each player—red numbers for under par, a green zero for par, and green numbers for over par. Roberts played a key role in the first Masters television broadcast on CBS, in 1956, and in many thereafter, working closely with the network.
It was Roberts who in 1948 invited General Dwight Eisenhower to visit Augusta National and who would later become a political and financial advisor to the President. Eisenhower became an active member of the Club.
During his lifetime, Roberts received many awards and honors, including service on the PGA Advisory Committee from its inception in 1943 until his death, appointment by the USGA to serve on the Bob Jones Award Selection Committee, and enshrinement in the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1978. He was the author of The Story of the Augusta National Golf Club, published in 1976, and a subject of The Making of the Masters: Cliff Roberts, Augusta National, and Golf’s Most Prestigious Tournament, published in 1999.