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Augusta family prepared sandwiches in early days of Masters Tournament

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The beginnings of Augusta National Golf Club’s famed pimento cheese sandwich could be traced to an Augusta family’s kitchen.

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The famous pimento cheese sandwich at Augusta National Golf Club.  TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
The famous pimento cheese sandwich at Augusta National Golf Club.

In the late-1940s, Hodges and Ola Herndon managed food and drink concessions for the Masters Tournament. The couple prepared sandwiches in the kitchen of their house on Kissingbower Road in Augusta. Their son, Tom Herndon, drove a delivery truck full of sandwiches to the golf course.

Whether the Herndon’s pimento cheese was the first of its kind for the Masters is still up for debate. Nevertheless, it was highly regarded.

“To this day, I hear compliments on the egg salad and pimento cheese sandwiches,” said Tom Herndon, who has retired to Saint Simons Island, Ga.

The Herndons’ food service was documented in a letter dated April 12, 1948, and signed by Masters co-founder Bobby Jones and chairman Clifford Roberts.

“This year both of us happened to have heard a number of complimentary remarks regarding the good service and food you provided,” the men wrote in the letter. “We were particularly pleased to learn that you could provide a really good sandwich for twenty five cents.”

The original letter is kept in a lock box and a framed copy is displayed in Tom Herndon’s home.

Hodges Herndon was a veteran of the food business. He owned a small cafe on Broad Street in downtown Augusta before running food operations at Oliver General Hospital, a wartime institution for servicemen that was originally the lavish Forrest-Ricker Hotel.

Roberts interviewed Herndon, who offered to sell sandwiches to tournament patrons for a quarter, said Tom Herndon.

Hectic preparation of pimento cheese, egg salad and ham sandwiches started at daybreak in the family’s kitchen. Hodges Herndon acquired a meat slicer, extra large bowls and other commercial cooking equipment to help with the work, and his wife recruited friends to help assemble the sandwiches.

“They enjoyed it. It was hard work for everybody, of course,” Tom Herndon said.

Several times a day during the tournament, he traveled up Berckmans Road to deliver sandwiches to the course.

Tom Herndon recruited friends from the Phi Delta Theta fraternity at the University of Georgia to help sell food and drinks from several small wooden concession stands on the course. He asked the head professor at UGA’s business school for the week off from class.

After about a decade serving tournament patrons, the Herndons stepped aside as Masters attendance grew. Hodges Herndon later managed the Augusta Country Club.

Tom Herndon still reminisces about his parents’ legacy. When he attends the Masters, he’s amazed the pimento cheese sandwiches sell for $1.50.

“Masters continues to be a highlight of the year for my family,” he said.

As for the family’s pimento cheese recipe, he said he’s not sure what became of it.

Comments (16) Add comment
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catfish20
258
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catfish20 04/08/14 - 08:55 pm
3
0
pimento cheese

SandwichS are not the REAL THING THIS YEAR....

athome
92
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athome 04/08/14 - 09:49 pm
2
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sandwiches

Is it true that last year "The National" decided to make the pimento cheese themselves rather than have the local vendor provide the signature recipe cheese spread? Even some of the teens making the sandwiches said it just looked different! Who is making it this year?

southern2
6133
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southern2 04/08/14 - 11:06 pm
3
0
One of my favorite Master's

One of my favorite Master's treats used to be the fried chicken filet on a bun. Had one Sunday and was very disappointed. Almost couldn't finish it. No where close to the old Wife Saver ones.

My wife had egg salad and really liked it. I also enjoyed the BBQ sandwich.

iaaffg
2226
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iaaffg 04/09/14 - 06:40 am
2
2
cheese and pimiento? ick.

cheese and pimiento? ick.

corgimom
32433
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corgimom 04/09/14 - 07:47 am
1
2
No, it's good stuff, iaaffg.

No, it's good stuff, iaaffg. You should try it.

justthefacts
21871
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justthefacts 04/09/14 - 07:58 am
3
0
Master's commitee

They make very few mistakes, but in the opinion of many, changing the sandwiches was one. The chicken sandwiches when made by Wifesaver were much better and the same with pimiento cheese. Hopefully, the ham and cheese on rye hasn't been changed.

redfish
634
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redfish 04/09/14 - 08:17 am
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I was fortunate...

I was fortunate enough to know Mr. Herndon. He was a fine gentleman and a true asset to Augusta.

Davidl3940
115
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Davidl3940 04/09/14 - 11:42 am
4
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Chicken sandwich

Had one yesterday..........they are not very good. I am surprised the Masters sell those.

justthefacts
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justthefacts 04/09/14 - 11:50 am
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Butterman

I bet you do.

Red Headed Step Child
4061
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Red Headed Step Child 04/09/14 - 12:39 pm
2
2
Pimiento Cheese

It always looks pre-chewed. Can't seem to get past that... :)

The egg salad is good...but only the brave will wash it down with a beer!

raul
4868
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raul 04/09/14 - 01:08 pm
1
1
@RedHead. After a few P.C.s

@RedHead. After a few P.C.s and beer, you self-propel the course.

paperguy
84
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paperguy 04/09/14 - 02:21 pm
2
0
Sandwiches a great deal

According to my inflation calculator, a 25 cent sandwich in 1948 would cost $2.50 today.

Airman
3764
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Airman 04/09/14 - 04:03 pm
1
1
Redheaded Step Child

Keep us posted where you are because after a beer and egg salad I am sure the methane level at the National could power several LP gas vehicles. You cant burp them out...reminds me of a joke from the 60's" What did one burp say to the other burp?" "Lets be little stinkers and go out the other way."

fedex227
11187
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fedex227 04/09/14 - 04:05 pm
2
2
Sorry, add one more to the yuck column
Unpublished

Mashed up processed cheese and mayo (make sure the defibrillator is charged up).

KSL
129549
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KSL 04/09/14 - 04:19 pm
1
2
Nope

Use real cheddar.

Fedex, you might want to Google a recent NYT article on studies on fats in the diet not being harmful, as thought.

JustLilMe
109
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JustLilMe 04/09/14 - 05:07 pm
3
0
They just don't seem to have

They just don't seem to have that bit of cayenne bite that a good PC sandwich should have. They're missing something these days. Texture is fine though.

edcushman
7930
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edcushman 04/09/14 - 05:53 pm
1
1
"Mashed up processed cheese
Unpublished

"Mashed up processed cheese and mayo (make sure the defibrillator is charged up)."
when Nick from Aiken made them they were made with real cheese and were very good.

catfish20
258
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catfish20 04/09/14 - 09:51 pm
0
0
White chunks

It looks and tastes different...not the same cheese...and not in a good way...

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