The Augusta National Golf Club, founded by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, is best known as the home of the Masters Tournament. The course was designed by Dr. Alister Mackenzie in 1931 on land that had previously been the Fruitland Nurseries. The golf club has been home to the Augusta National Invitation Tournament since 1933, a tournament that was renamed the Masters Tournament in 1939. One of the best-known golf courses in the world, Augusta National is known for its tradition and its challenging course which attracts thousands of golfers and golf enthusiasts each year.
Augusta National Golf Club officially opened in January of 1933. Invitations were sent to New York businessmen inviting them to a private train party hosted by Clifford Roberts and Grantland Rice a sports columnist and author. Members of the party were transported to Augusta to play alongside Bobby Jones on the new course, but due to poor weather conditions and the Great Depression, the golf club only gained one new member from this private party.
This unexpected outcome did not discourage the new club founders. Our overall aim at the Augusta National has been to provide a golf course of considerable natural beauty, enjoyable for the average golfer and at the same time testing for the expert player striving to better par. We want to make bogies easy if frankly sought, pars readily obtainable by standard good play, and birdies, except on par 5's, dearly bought, Bobby Jones said at the Club's opening.
The following year, the Augusta National Golf Club hosted a tournament as a way to promote the new club and sell memberships. This tournament, the Augusta National Invitation Tournament, would later become known as the Masters Tournament. Instead of serving as a tournament official, Bobby Jones played in the inaugural tournament on Thursday, March 22, 1934. Jones finished in thirteenth place behind the leader Horton Smith. Smith won $1,500 out of a total purse of $5,000 by a single stroke over Craig Wood.
As the Tournament grew and Augusta National Golf Club developed, it took on a segregated culture. According to the author of Blacks and Women in Augusta Golf, only black local caddies were allowed to serve the tournament participants until 1982 when the rules changed to allow outside caddies. It was not until 1975 that the first African American golfer was allowed to participate in the Masters Tournament and the club did not admit a black member until 1990.
The club also refused membership to women until August 2012 when it admitted Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as official members. Augusta National is (nearly) impossible to join however. The club has been around for nearly a century, and you cannot join as a member by application like most clubs. Nope, you have to be invited to become a member at this legendary club. Openings are very uncommon as well, only occurring when a member dies or are asked to leave (very rare). Once there is an opening, Augusta National makes a list of a few possible members and mails out the invites. Although the club often receives criticism and social pressure for its policies, it is one of the best known and elite golf clubs in the country owing to its status as the home of the Masters Tournament.