The Coronavirus pandemic has hit a giant pause button on fans being able to watch golf on TV, and in some cases, even kept people off courses. But while we hunker down and hope for a speedy return to normalcy, we can also use this time as an opportunity to learn more about the game we love. Here’s our latest installment of “Did you know?”
In 2019 the Augusta National Golf Club launched the Augusta National Women’s Amateur. But it’s not the only time a tournament other than the Masters was played on the hallowed Georgia property.
In 1937 and 1938, Augusta National served as host for the PGA Seniors’ Championship. The tournament, which debuted in 1937, was brought to Augusta National by co-founder Bobby Jones, who thought the event would be a platform to honour the pioneers who came before him. Jones asked the club’s board of governors to alter its bylaws to allow another tournament to be played at Augusta National.
“They all feel as I do, that they are glad to make an exception to an established policy in order to make a gesture of appreciation to those members of your association who have contributed much to golf in this country,” Jones said.
It was supposed to be more of a celebration rather than a competitive tournament. There was a practice round and three 54-hole tournaments, divided by ages groups: 50-54, 55-59 and 60-plus. Jock Hutchison won the inaugural Senior PGA over 36 other players with a seven-over 223, while Fred McLeod won the rain-shortened 1938 event in an 18-hole playoff over Otto Hackbarth, after Hackbarth three-putted the 17th and 18th in regulation. (Related note: “Hackbarthed” should be the new term for “three-jack.”).
The tournament moved to warmer confines in 1939, but the spirit of the Senior PGA was brought back with the introduction of the Honorary Starters in 1963, with Hutchison and McLeod serving as the ceremonial strikers.