The Masters

Scores | Players | Course | News | Photos | Multimedia | Blog |

Augustans once congregated on 16th green during the Masters Tournament

  • Follow Metro

The 16th green was the spot to see and be seen.

Back | Next
Patrons watch the action from the hill on the 16th during the 1969 Masters Tournament.  FILE
FILE
Patrons watch the action from the hill on the 16th during the 1969 Masters Tournament.

Once well known to large circles of Augusta teenagers and college students, giant hillsides near the 16th and sixth holes were ideal gathering places to lie back, sip a cold drink and enjoy good conversation.

“Sixteen was just the place to go,” said Robert Harn, of Augusta. “You could be off at (college) and come home, and that was where you knew to go to catch up and see everybody.”

Harn remembers heading to the hangout at the 16th hole with a friend from Savannah in the early 1970s. At sunset, the two headed to the 17th hole to catch their first glimpse of golf for the day.

“If I’ve come to the Masters, I’m gonna at least see one golf ball hit,” the friend said.

Starting in the late 1960s, the 16th hole was the official meeting place for Augustans, often escalating into a noisy and boisterous social gathering.

Locals couldn’t wait to turn 18, once the legal drinking age, and dally at the 16th. It was also the place to find out what houses were playing host to the biggest social parties of Masters Week.

Bill Harris, an Augustan with fond memories of the 16th hole, said fewer locals have attended the tournament in recent years. Seeing a familiar face at the 16th is rarer.

“All of a sudden the locals started leaving town,” Harris said. “Once upon a time, you didn’t dare leave, it was such a fun time.”

When things began to change at the 16th is debated. Some say the late 1980s or early ’90s.

Harn still finds himself gravitating toward the area, only to find the drink stand moved and the locals an anomaly out of place among out-of-town strangers.

“I miss it because my kids, who are 25 and 21 now, they don’t know that,” he said.

Brigid Pursley said she had enjoyed the 16th hole since she was 8 years old. Her father, Mackey Mulherin, was a volunteer for the tournament. In 1972, he was assigned as an announcer at the 16th green, some say to help control crowds.

“He wore the red coat and he’d put his hand up and everyone would get quiet,” she said. “It was amazing.”

Mulherin had a stack of index cards, each filled with interesting facts about the players. He would lay down a blanket on the grassy hillside for his daughter to sit on while he calmed the crowds.

“Daddy always took me. I was his little sidekick,” said Pursley, who continued to tarry at the 16th when she was a young adult. Her father wore the red coat at the 16th hole until 1988.

A famous painting of the 16th hole, Sunday in Augusta by artist Ted Hamlin, hangs in Harn’s office. The painting, a copy of a photograph, depicts crowds surrounding the 16th hole watching Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus tee off in 1980.

In the painting, a visible gap appears along the rope to the right-hand side of the tee box. Harn can point out three of his good friends watching the tee shot, but he said two people were missing.

“The little gap should have been myself and my friend Allen Searson. We were betting closest to the hole and we lost,” Harn said. “We were getting beers when they came through, and we didn’t make the portrait.”

THE EIGHT-PART SERIES

APRIL 7: The Masters Week parade was a short-lived tradition to welcome visitors.

TODAY: A giant hill near Augusta National’s 16th hole was the meeting place for young people from the late 1960s to the 1980s.

TUESDAY: Augusta’s premier fine-dining restaurant for several decades, the old Town Tavern was flooded with guests and golfers.

WEDNESDAY: Masters fashion has evolved through the years from “Sunday best” to casual styles.

THURSDAY: Augusta’s winter resorts were the place for drinking, dancing, gambling and celebrities.

FRIDAY: The Old South Barbecue at Julian Smith Casino served supper to Augustans and guests.

SATURDAY: Chronicle readers share memories of the tournament’s early days.

SUNDAY: Young women from Georgia and South Carolina competed in the Miss Golf beauty pageant.

Comments (2) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
justthefacts
24061
Points
justthefacts 04/08/13 - 06:27 am
0
0
Yep

Those were great times. Harn is right. After leaving Augusta, the 16th was always the place you were guaranteed to find your old friends. Now, hardly anyone from Augusta is there.

paperguy2
55
Points
paperguy2 04/08/13 - 03:47 pm
0
0
Could carry in beer.

In the sixties, you could bring in your cooler of beer. It was hard to carry it around, so it made more sense to camp out on those hills. A party atmosphere ensued and that area was considered a hazard to the golfers. Of course, then no one feared losing their tickets because you could buy them at the gate.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Georgia Regents' hospital plan chosen

Georgia Regents Medical Center won a lengthy and hardfought battle over two other Augusta hospitals to build the first hospital in Columbia County, the Georgia Department of Community Health ...
Search Augusta jobs