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Community events created excitement for Masters

Saturday, March 9, 2013 1:49 PM
Last updated Monday, March 11, 2013 6:15 PM
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Not so long ago, Augusta’s civic spirit was the engine that helped power the Masters Tournament. And it needed the help.

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A crowd lined Broad Street for the 1958 Masters parade.  FILE
A crowd lined Broad Street for the 1958 Masters parade.

In its infancy, tournament galleries were small and tickets were hard to give away, let alone sell.

“People didn’t really know much about golf tournaments. The city was much smaller than it is now,” said Lowrey Stulb, an Augusta native and the architect who designed Eisenhower Cabin at Augusta National Golf Club.

In the 1930s and ’40s, the Great Depression and the second World War hampered tournament attendance. Even after the war, tickets were distributed at downtown banks and shops for free or a few dollars. Stulb, then a member of the Augusta Golf Association, couldn’t find buyers for the dozen tickets he was asked to sell at $5 each.

The tide turned in the second half of the 20th century, in part because Augusta businessmen and civic leaders pulled together community support that nurtured today’s international event.

“Augusta saw it as an opportunity to make the city foremost in presentation,” said Jim Davis, a former anchor and news director for local television stations.

For one week, parties, fashion, gambling, celebrities and Southern hospitality were forefront in Augusta minds.

Eager businessmen, likely recognizing the economic promise of the Masters, formed a steering committee for events to be held during the tournament.

The Masters Week Comm­ittee, aided by mayoral support, organized a Broad Street parade, a beauty pageant, a black-tie dance called the “Golf Ball” and a horse show beginning in 1957.

“There was a strong sense of community at the time. The whole community was in favor of the Masters Tournament and did their best to promote it,” Davis said.

Lillian Cullum said her husband Jim, who later owned Cullum’s department store on Broad Street, made the first calls to organize the parade. She remembers tournament officials giving her husband large rolls of several hundred paper tickets to give away at the downtown store.

Barbara Anne Harris Sorkin, the winner of the 1966 “Miss Golf” beauty pageant, hasn’t forgotten the city’s hospitality during her first visit to the Garden City. She stayed with a local family for the week.

“It was an outpouring of community support to welcome the girls to Augusta,” she said.

The host family invited Sorkin to visit their St. Simons Island beach house, an offer she regrets not being able to follow through with.

Augusta gained more fame when President Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower and his wife, Mamie, visited the golf course. Then, the tournament aired on TV for the first time in 1956 and golfer Arnold Palmer, a crowd-favorite, helped draw more attention to the tournament.

By 1960, the number of Masters Week visitors overwhelmed Augusta’s few restaurants. At the request of the Chamber of Commerce, an Old South Barbecue was held at Julian Smith Casino.

“Everybody was just so jazzed up and so happy to be here,” said Ann Boardman, a volunteer for the barbecue. “It was really fun to show off our city.”


During Masters Week, The Augusta Chronicle will look back on the community traditions that once coincided with the annual golf tournament. What do you remember about the Masters’ early days? Do you own snapshots, home movies or memorabilia from early Masters-related events? Please share your stories with us. Contact Staff Writer Meg Mirshak at (706) 823-3228 or or fill out our webform.

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Riverman1 03/09/13 - 03:39 pm
The Master's Effect

Don’t forget “Arnie’s Army.” It came about when soldiers from Ft. Gordon were drafted to work at the Masters. A TV announcer, laughing about all the soldiers at the National wearing their uniforms and seeing the crowd following Arnold Palmer, said, “Arnie has his own army.” Thus, “Arnie’s Army.” Honestly, when I had the opportunity to return to the CSRA with my career in 1990 near my grandparents, I jumped at the chance and the Master’s had a lot to do with my decision.

Just My Opinion
Just My Opinion 03/09/13 - 07:39 pm
I really hope people will do

I really hope people will do as asked and contribute stories, pictures, and/or film from the "old days" of the Masters! I think that week is a fun time to have visitors from all over the world come and appreciate "our tournament"!

Jake 03/09/13 - 08:07 pm
Concession Stand

I worked the concession stand on #5 in 1967 when Gay Brewer won. The mornings were cold but it got toasty during the day.
It was bad when Arnie's Army came down the fairway and over ran our position. It was like ants on sugar and we poured many a beer out of bottles at 10am. They didn't have taps for beer then so you had to open ice chilled bottles and pour it into waxed cups. No plastic or Styrofoam cups then.
Nicklaus had his crowd as well but Arnie was still king then. When the golfers were pretty well done with #5 we could take a break. I would take a ham & swiss on rye with a smuggled bottle of beer and sit in the woods across the fairway and relish the moment. I still relish those moments at the Augusta National.

Riverman1 03/10/13 - 07:31 am
Look Closely at the Photo

There's a guy on the right at the back who brought a step-ladder to the parade and is sitting on top of it. Heh. Then we have the guy in a suit watching. I bet that wouldn't happen today. Teens wearing loafers with white socks. Ah, the good ole days when people in Charleston could decide to drive to Augusta to watch the Masters and buy tickets at the gate.

Bantana 03/10/13 - 11:06 am
So many Lovely memories

My first was 1960. My last was 1996. I missed a few in between, but everyone of them was special. My last gave me the chance to squire my wife around the course for an all day talking tour. That day fostered in her a deep appreciation for the event. Now we set up our little Masters Weekend for just the two of us. Hours of TV coverage where we do our version of the concession menu with egg salad sandwiches and pimento cheese on white, even a slug of cold beer. I love this time of year.

Sweet son
Sweet son 03/10/13 - 01:56 pm
Good Idea Meg!

Hope you get a bunch of photos, stories etc......... We will look forward to seeing what you put together.

Carol Seay Witzell
Carol Seay Witzell 03/10/13 - 11:24 pm
Master's Travesty's

My foray into the world of gold came via my first husband whose parent's had season tickets to the Master's. We generally went on Friday or Saturday. I care zero about golf; but I do like the egg salad sandwiches at the National. I also like to people watch; and to eavesdrop; but the latter is a bit difficult when everyone speaks in "golf whispers." Frustrating. My first calamity happened when my husband were walking in the pathway; and Nick Faldo hit a ball that went a bit awry and landed at my feet. I did not see the ball; because I was busy looking a a lady of the day who looked more like a lady of the evening; and I was mesmerized at how she was negotiating the course in high wedged sandals that were bright red and matched her dress and her hair. I was quite intrigued by the sight. Anyway, all I knew was that one moment I was absorbed in the lady; and the next minute I was air-lifted by arm into the air; by an irate husband who was yelling at me in a golf whisper yell to: "Watch the ball! Don't kick the ball!" One year I discovered Seve Ballesteros, and devloped a mad crush on him. One day, while once again not paying a whole lot of attention to where I was walking; I ran physically, slam into Ballesteros. I did not understand what he was muttering. I had only taked high school Spanish; and I am more than sure we never learned words used in that tone. I could tell from the look on Ballesteros' face; his caddie's face; and the puce color of my husband's face; that what Ballesteros was muttering was not very polite. My third and final Master's castrophe happened one year when it was very cold; pouring rain; and must plain miserable outside. Fashionista that I was, I had on shorts and Keds. As we walked the course; we came across a huge mud puddle. I could not resist. After all, I had run track in High School. I was good at the running and standing broad jumps. I felt sure I could take this one. Well. I cleared the puddle; but my shoe slid on the mud; anad I fell backards in the water which turned out to be deep as well as wide. My husband just kept walking as if he did not know the moron who just went swimming in the mud puddle. Two courtly, elderly gentelmen hauled me to my feet and offered to buy me a cup of coffee. I declined. But I was soaking wet; and when I caught up with my husband he showed no mercy. He bought me a wet suit, a cup of coffee and an egg salad sandwich and walked me up to the very first hold and told me sit there and not move until he came back for me. It has been many, many moons since I have been to the Master's; John (my current and last husband is not a golf afficicando himself, which suits me jsut fine.) I DO miss the egg salad sandwiches though!

David Parker
David Parker 03/11/13 - 03:36 pm
You could feel it in the air

You could feel it in the air over the weekend. tunamint time!

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