By Alex Myers/Golf Digest
Imagine getting a call from Augusta National Golf Club inviting you to become a member. It’s a dream come true for any golfer, right? Now imagine your wife answering the phone instead and saying “no.” It’s tough to think of a worse nightmare.
Sadly, legendary University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal actually had this happen to him. He just didn’t know about it for years.
The Augusta National rejection – perhaps, the only one since the club’s founding years – was reported by the Austin-American Statesmen, and the details don’t get any better. Apparently, the club invited the longtime Longhorn coach to join, but his wife, Edith, didn’t think the couple could afford it – even though she knew how much her husband would have wanted a green jacket.
“He loved it,” Edith told The Statesman of her husband, who died in 2012. “He thought that was the greatest place he’d ever been.”
It gets worse. Apparently, some UT boosters were willing to pay for the membership. But Edith was worried about travel costs of her husband constantly flying back and forth to Augusta. Royal was an avid golfer and was known to play 90 holes in a day at the club with his fellow football coach Frank Broyles, who was a member.
Things must have been a bit different back then. UT’s current coach, Charlie Strong, makes $5 million per year. Oh yeah, and the team plays in Darrell K. Royal Stadium.
The Statesman reached out to Augusta National, which is very tight-lipped when it comes to discussing its members, and got this response from chairman Billy Payne:
“I cannot verify it or throw water on it,” Payne said. “That was before my time. . . . But nobody ever turned me down.”
Edith never told her husband, but he eventually found out, sometime in the 1980s she estimated.
“He wanted to kill me when he found out I turned it down,” Edith said.