Old Soul: Revisiting The Ties Between Augusta National And St Andrews
Updating a previously published story with the 2022 Masters in mind.
Another week of golf news inundated with talk of silly money? We could all use a healthy golf architectural cleansing. Besides, the Masters is approaching in a year The Open returns to Old Course. And that’s a beautiful thing.
Augusta National’s 5th hole was revamped in 2019 and the 11th hole has seen revisions this year, making it an ideal time to explore the St Andrews DNA in Augusta.
I’ll first point you to a story I wrote for Golf World in 2010 exploring the ties between the two courses. Titled “Old Soul”, I don’t cringe reading it and feel it’s held up. (I’d like to thank Golf World editor Bill Fields for improving the story really made by Ben Crenshaw and Tom Watson’s invaluable perspectives.)
For those still trying to understand how the courses are linked, the story dives deeper into the evidence. But in a nutshell…
Early construction stories included Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie mentioning the Old Course extensively while describing the concept for holes. O.B. Keeler explicitly stated the course was a homage to St Andrews in an early preview.
It was only natural to tie the future Augusta National to the mysterious place where Jones experienced some of his greatest moments. So the Old Course mentions may have been about Clifford Roberts’ marketing ideas as much as selling the design. After all, there were well-documented Depression-driven concerns in attracting members.
Jones would reflect 30 years later that it was “at best, a bit naïve” to copy holes “because to do such a thing, we would have had literally to alter the face of the earth.”
Despite some of Jones and MacKenzie’s protestations regarding “replica” holes at Augusta National, they paid direct homage at their original 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 11th, 14th and 17th holes.