Friday, April 18, 2008

Past, Present, Future: Augusta National

This past weekend it was all about the Masters Tournament around here. I love to watch it, and my husband loves to live through it making each swing and putt with his favorite players. Since he wasn’t in attendance for this year’s action, I forgave him for pulling his Blackberry out to check the tournament results as we exited our church sanctuary following Sunday night’s service. Shhhh….dont’ tell! :)

You have to admit… golf is a game with great history, and the Masters Tournament has a history that can stand alone. It is said that when Georgia’s own favorite son, Bobby Jones, came across the piece of land that would become August National Club he said, “Perfect! And to think this ground has been lying here all these years waiting for someone to come along and lay a golf course upon it.”

Well, the land hadn’t just been laying there. Believe it or not it had a history before August National. Prior to Jones and his partners acquiring the land, it had served as an indigo plantation owned by Dennis Redmond. The building that serves as the Augusta National Clubhouse was built in 1854 to serve as the Redmond home, and is believed to be the first home in the South to be built of concrete. The walls are 18 inches thick, but following the Charleston earthquake in the late 1800s a few cracks were noted. The current clubhouse has had a few major additions, however, since the plantation days.

In 1857, the property was purchased by Belgian Baron Louis Mathieu Edouard Berckmans. Whew! That’s a mouthful, isn’t it? Berckmans’ hobby was horticulture while his son, Prosper Julius Alphonse, dabbled in horticulture, but he was also an agronomist. Father and son began Fruitland Nurseries covering 365 acres. They imported many trees and plants from countries all over the world. This explains why there are so many varieties of trees and flowering plants on the property today. In fact, the row of 61 magnolias that line Magnolia Lane were planted prior to the Civil War. Many of the pine trees that spot the course are over 150 years old. The Masters Tournament is known for the beautiful azaleas that blanket the course which Prosper is credited with making them an extremely popular addition to gardens in the South.

While there are many aspects of the Augusta National course that have their own little stories to tell I’m going to focus today on two aspects of the course that involve the presidency of the United States----the Eisenhower cabin and the Eisenhower Pine. So, pack up your belongings and join me over at American Presidents where I’ll explain the rest of the story…..

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