A Classic American Tradition
Upon his retirement from championship golf in 1930, Bobby Jones had hoped to realize his dream of building a golf course. Following a brief conversation with Clifford Roberts, with whom Jones had met several times during the mid-1920s, it was decided the club would be built near Augusta, Georgia, provided a suitable piece of ground was available. According to Jones' plans, the course would utilize the natural advantages of the property and use mounds rather than too many bunkers. It was hoped the property would have a natural creek to use as a water hazard. Jones wanted this concept of golf course architecture to make a contribution to the game as well as give expression to his ideas about golf course design. This club would be open during the winter season only.
A mutual friend of Jones and Roberts, Thomas Barrett, Jr., was consulted and recommended a 365-acre property called Fruitland Nurseries. Once an indigo plantation, it was purchased in 1857 by Belgian Baron Louis Mathieu Edouard Berckmans who was a horticulturist by hobby. Berckmans' son, Prosper Julius Alphonse, was an agronomist and horticulturist by profession and the two formed a partnership in 1858. Operating under the name Fruitland Nurseries, the company imported many trees and plants from various countries. The Baron died in 1883. Prosper's death followed in 1910 and the nursery ceased operations by the time its charter expired in 1918. A great variety of flowering plants and trees, including a long row of magnolias which were planted before the Civil War and a plant Prosper popularized called the azalea, remained on the property.
Upon seeing the property from what is now the practice putting green, Jones 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 on it."
An option was taken on the property for $70,000. It was decided to establish a national membership for the club, and Jones proposed Augusta National would be an appropriate name. Jones also decided in the planning stage that he wanted Dr. Alister Mackenzie of Scotland to serve as the course architect since the pair held similar views. Before coming to Augusta, Mackenzie had designed two courses in California, Pasatiempo and Cypress Point. Mackenzie died in January 1934, two months before the first Tournament.
Construction on the new course began in the first half of 1931 and the course opened in December 1932 with a limited amount of member play. Formal opening took place in January 1933.