Masters stories: Club secrecy, Byron Nelson, and equality

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There's an old saying that the smaller the ball, the better the writing. (The more overwrought, too.) Let's put that to the test, shall we? Throughout the week, we'll be presenting some fine stories of Masters past and present. Got a link to a particularly good story, or got one of your own? Send it to

From Augusta National's Annual Report to Members:

"The Club operates under established customs (rather than rules) the spirit of which all members are expected to observe. The principal points are as follows ... 2. The Club wants no publicity except with respect to the Masters Tournament. Our members wish to enjoy the seclusion of a private club and prefer their visits at the Club not to be publicized ... It is expected that [members] shall actively discourage any form of publicity pertaining to the Club, about which they have advance knowledge, if it is unrelated to the tournament -- and especially if it is to be commercial in form."

(Quoted in "The Masters: Golf, Money and Power in Augusta, Georgia," by Curt Sampson)

From "'Did I Tell You The One About ...' : An interview with Jim Nantz," by Craig Bestrom, in Golf Digest

Q: Your access at Augusta must lead to some memorable behind-the-scenes moments. What comes to mind?
Nantz: One of my traditions at Augusta is to take a walk around the course late on Wednesday afternoon. Usually very few people are around, and it serves as a little meditation. I like to get out to Amen Corner, check the green conditions at 12 and stand on the 13th tee for a while all by myself.

While doing this a few years ago, I'm looking from the 12th green back up the 11th fairway, and I see two people walking very slowly. One is leaning on a cane and holding onto a lady. It didn't take long, even from 400 yards away, to realize it was Byron Nelson and his wife, Peggy. I thought, How special is this? Byron Nelson is out walking around Amen Corner.

So I scurry up the 11th fairway and pull alongside, and they tell me that Byron is taking Peggy out to the Byron Nelson Bridge [at the 13th tee] for the first time. She'd never seen it. He said, "I just don't know how many more chances in my life I'm going to have to walk Amen Corner."

Trying to be as respectful as possible, I said I'd get out of their way, but Byron says, "No, no, no. Come with us."

About that time, Davey Finch, one of our cameramen, was out shooting some beauty shots for the broadcast. He saw me with the Nelsons, so he came over. Again, not to be an intrusion, I asked Byron, "Would you mind if we recorded this for history? I know the club would love to have it." He said it'd be fine, so Davey got Byron Nelson walking across his bridge for maybe the last time.

Once Byron got across the bridge, he read the plaque that pays tribute to his great record at Augusta. Then, as hard as it was for Byron to do this, he leaned down, kissed his hand and patted the plaque with his hand. It was as touching as anything I've ever seen.

From "Masters of their Domain," by Bill Simmons, at

"If you want females joining Augusta, and if you rightly insist that women are equal to men, then I'm calling you on it. Let's be equal. Completely, totally equal. Let's throw out any tradition that ever revolved around the phrase, "Because this is how we've always done it." Let's start fresh. We'll even hand over the clicker half the time -- with the money we would save on engagement rings, we could afford to buy two plasma-screen TVs (one for us, one for you). But if you're not willing to start fresh, and if you keep clinging to these hypocrisies that complicate every aspect of the male-female relationship, you're shooting yourselves in the collective foot. You're right, it is time for a change. But you need to change, too."

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