The fascinating history of Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters is also a story of what could have been given the ambitious initial plans for the club. In fact, considering its tumultuous early struggle to survive through the Great Depression and World War II, it’s a wonder the club exists at all today.

That Augusta National and the Masters survived those early years and grew into what they are today is “mainly a credit to the stubborn single-mindedness of Clifford Roberts,” writes David Owen, a longtime New Yorker and Golf Digest writer and preeminent historian on the Masters. While writing a comprehensive history of the club and Masters in his book, “The Making of the Masters,” Owen was granted exclusive access to the Augusta National Golf Club archives.

Owen is recognized as a leading expert on the club and tournament owing to his unique experience researching and writing his award-winning book (he lived on the club grounds on and off, playing the course often, during this time). We are thrilled that Owen will be joining us on our next Golf Digest Happy Hour on Thursday, April 4 at 8:30 p.m. EST: The true story of Augusta National’s near demise, according to the club’s leading expert.

The webinar is offered exclusively for Golf Digest+ members, who will be able to join the hour-long session by following the Zoom link that will be posted here. As always, members are encouraged to ask any questions throughout the Happy Hour.

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Using early photography of the club, Owen will discuss Augusta National’s formative years, including Bobby Jones’ and Clifford Roberts’ ambitious plans for two 18-hole courses (one for women), a sprawling neoclassical clubhouse and a golf Hall of Fame.

Related: Clifford Roberts—The man who made the Masters

Of course, many of those plans never came to be, largely because of the club’s early financial struggles. Owen will detail how the Great Depression and World War II nearly caused the club and Masters to cease, even at one point causing the club’s creditors to foreclose.

Yet it was during those early struggles when Augusta National co-founder Roberts instituted many of the innovations and traditions that helped forge a new history for the club and turned the Masters into one of the world’s model sporting events. Owen will discuss many of these innovations, including Roberts’ incessant desire to perfect the live telecast and patron experience.

We look forward to chatting with Owen and learning more about the history of Augusta National and the Masters. Not a Golf Digest+ member yet? Be sure to sign up here to join the Happy Hour on Thursday.

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