I have a strong sense I’m criminally late to this party, but in case anyone else happens to be in the same unenviable situation, I’m starting a Masters Book Club group and have made the first selection: The Making of the Masters: Clifford Roberts, Augusta National, and Golf’s Most Prestigious Tournament, by David Owen.
It’s a deep-dive into the history of the club, the course, the tournament, and the people responsible for making and forming each into what we know today. I won’t pretend to be a literary critic, but I will say David Owen’s writing style is very comfortable and the pages turn effortlessly and quickly. The stories and anecdotes are both interesting and entertaining, especially this time of year when the Masters bug ratchets up to full-blown Contagion.
The story begins in earnest with an examination of the unstable, rough childhood of Cliff Roberts, the unlikeliness of his meeting and association with Bobby Jones, and the origins of what would eventually become Augusta National Golf Club. The story then continues on chronologically tracing the evolution of the club and the Masters tournament through the rest of Roberts’ life. While Bobby Jones may be more synonymous with Augusta National in the minds of a lot of people (raising my hand), it’s clear that Roberts was the heart and soul of the club and tournament, fighting relentlessly, sometimes rather hopelessly in the beginning, to keep the tournament afloat and build the Masters into the triumph of sport it is today.
Last thing I’ll mention is that one of my favorite parts of the book is during the design and build of the course at the hands of Alister MacKenzie. Owen goes deep into MacKenzie’s philosophies, his influences, and the ways in which Jones and Roberts consulted with him before, during, and after the process. Having been to Mecca one time prior (for a practice round in 2012), I feel Owen’s writing has really brought the course to life, which has me equal parts geeked to watch it this week on TV and also yearning to get back there in person and walk the grounds, knowing so much more about the place than I did before.
So if you’re looking for a Masters fix, I highly recommend scooping up this book. Would be a great read at night during tournament week. And if there are other books I have managed to miss (I know there will be quite a few), please share them in the comments!