Ask five people what they plan to do in retirement, and you’re likely to hear “Golf” from at least three of them. The game’s origins predate the legendary Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in Scotland, with a Dutch game called “kolf,” played with a leather ball and a stick as early as 1297.
Here in Georgia, the climate makes it possible to enjoy the sport almost year ’round, which may be one reason why the state plays host to the top competitors in its field during the first full week of April.
Fast-forward from its humble beginnings to the years 1923-1930, when Atlanta-born attorney Bobby Jones became the most successful amateur player ever to compete on a national and international level in the sport we know today as golf.
Ironically, Jones retired from golf at the age of 28 – on a competitive level, at least – after which he commissioned Scottish golf course architect Alister MacKenzie to co-design the Augusta National Course in Georgia. Jones purchased what was then Fruitland Nurseries to build the now-famous golf course.
To this day, each hole is named for one of the plants that once were raised at the nursery, and the signature azaleas were strategically placed following a consultation with Louis Alphonse Berckmans, the son of one of the nursery’s owners.
Three years after MacKenzie’s commission, the course played host to the Augusta National Invitational Tournament, in March of 1934, when golfer Horton Smith beat Craig Wood by one stroke, and claimed the $1,500 championship prize. (The tournament was renamed The Masters Tournament in 1939, and the event was moved to the first full week in April, in 1940).
Since 1949, the winner of the Tournament also receives a one-year honorary membership to Augusta National, including the signature green jacket worn by the club’s members while on club grounds. Sam Snead became the first recipient of the jacket in 1949, when he won the first of his three Masters titles.
Whether you are an avid golfer, or if you appreciate the native foliage in our state that blooms each spring, The Masters Tournament is an institution here in Georgia, enjoyed by many.
Here at Windsong, golf enthusiasts may choose to watch the game with neighbors and friends at the Community Clubhouse, or practice the sport by setting up a putting green in their private courtyard, which affords ample growing room for azaleas and other Atlanta National-inspired native plants.
So ask those same five people what they are watching on television this week, and you’ll likely hear “golf” from at least three of them. And if you ask them where they’re watching, they’ll probably say at home at Windsong – Where Life’s A Breeze!