Dorie Wells had no idea the treasure she had stored away for decades.
A rare program from the first Masters Tournament was just one of many gifts Masters co-founder Clifford Roberts gave Wells and her husband, Reginald. Photographs from the tournament’s early years and framed prints of portraits of Roberts and Augusta National Golf Club co-founder Bobby Jones were other presents the couple collected during their friendship with Roberts.
“These things always came out of left field,” Wells said. “A lot of the things, we had no idea how valuable they were.”
Reginald Wells, an Englishman, produced and directed yearly Masters highlight films for Augusta National from 1961-82.
A founding staff member for Sports Illustrated, Wells later became the director of corporate communications for Morris Communications Co.
The Wellses and Roberts developed a close friendship. Roberts always instructed Dorie Wells, born in Switzerland, to sit to his right when the friends dined at Augusta National. Because she was European, Roberts trusted her selection from the wine list – but he didn’t know that Wells didn’t drink.
One evening at dinner, probably in the 1960s, Roberts had another gift for the Wellses.
“He said, ‘I almost forgot. I’ve got something I’d like you to have,’ ” Wells said.
That’s when Roberts handed the couple the 1934 program from the First Annual Invitation Tournament, as is scripted on the program’s front cover.
For years, Reginald Wells kept the program and other gifts in his office at work. He died in 2007, and later, his wife stored them in a secure place.
She flipped through the program after Roberts first gave it to the couple, but seldom thought about it or touched it until a 1935 program surfaced in the news.
Last August, a Grovetown woman sold a 1935 program that she found the previous month while helping a friend go through boxes of old magazines and newspaper clippings. Lexie Hollingsworth did not disclose the price, but said at the time it sold for “considerably” more than one that recently went to auction and fetched $12,000.
Augusta National produced programs for the inaugural tournament and the second year. There is no record of other programs being produced until 1990, when the club launched the Masters Journal as its preview magazine.
A 1934 program sold for more than $16,000 in January at greenjacketauctions.com.
The 44-page program featured photos of Augusta National members, pictures and descriptions of each hole on the golf course, and ads for Coca-Cola, New York’s St. Regis Hotel and two local hotels, the Bon Air and Partridge Inn.
As for Wells’ copy, which she said is in “prime condition,” she’s considering contacting an auction house, but is also looking for other potential buyers.