The Grandest Slam – The Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Georgia
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"That's Tiger's ball!" a man shouts as little white orb shoots past me and skids to a halt some fifty feet off fairway, perched atop needles that have settled under high pines of ninth hole. (Opening photo: The scoreboard below club house, right of first fairway.)
As usual, he has out-driven players in his threesome, but this time shot is somewhat off course. We move quickly, gathering around ball leaving Tiger just enough room for his back swing and a clear angle through woods to ninth green. He crouches to inspect trajectory his ball must travel under low-hanging branches and up slope toward yellow flag that marks hole.
He confers briefly with his caddy and without hesitation pulls an iron from his golf bag, lines up shot and, WHOOSH! He takes what has become one of most recognizable and enviable swings in game. The ball stays low for some 40 feet slipping under trees before coming into clear and climbing hill in a perfect loft to reach green and land inside 25 feet from pin. The patrons, as spectators are known at this event, erupt in cheers sprinkled with expressions of "Get in hole!" and "You're man!"
Halfway through second day of 2004 contest, we've just seen one more display of precision shot making by Tiger Woods, game's best-known young player and its Number One icon worldwide.
We're here at Augusta National Country Club in Augusta, Georgia, home of The Masters - golf's greatest competition. And we're here as part of this grand gathering due in large part to a young man who, nearly three-quarters of a century ago, had a magnificent idea for a golf course and a national tournament. Following his retirement from championship golf in 1930 at age twenty eight, Bobby Jones, winner of 13 major championships in seven years prior and game's first Grand Slam Champion (then completed by winning U.S Amateur and U.S. Open and British Amateur and British Open in same year) was poised to pursue his idea of building a new kind of golf course.
He got together with Clifford Roberts, a friend of Jones since mid- 1920s, and in 1931 two looked to Augusta with its Georgia Pines, soft hills, and temperate climate as place to realize their dream. They purchased 365-acre property called Fruitland Nurseries and retained Dr. Alister Mackenzie as architect for what would become Augusta National.