At first, they came to escape the cold northern winters. Drawn to Augusta, Georgia in the late 1800’s by the mild climate, presidents, industrialists, and socialites stepped down from private rail cars to winter at resort hotels dotting the landscape of the classic Southern city. William Howard Taft and John Rockefeller were among the luminaries whose names graced the guest registries of properties such as the Bon Air Hotel and Partridge Inn, and heirs to the Singer Sewing Machine Company were often in residence during the winter months.
Moderate temperatures also allowed equestrians to house their horses, and polo matches became places to see and be seen by the social set, creating a culture of refinement that added to the region’s appeal. Without snow to hamper outdoor activities, Augusta soon became known as the “winter golf capital of America,” representing the epitome of luxury, elegance, and Southern hospitality that stretched well into the twentieth century for this new breed of Augustans.
With its place well-established as a resort destination, Augusta was a natural choice for the nation’s most famous amateur golfer to select as the location for a golf course and club. The course opened in December of 1932, hosting its first invitational tournament in 1934. For over thirty years, the competition attracted a mostly local audience, but in 1964, television coverage drew spectators from across the globe. The event sold out, and the flower-studded beauty and grace of Augusta was displayed on a world stage; confirming its well-earned reputation for tradition, hospitality and heritage.
As it has for over fifty years, the Masters Tournament continues to offer an opportunity to share in the celebration of excellence that has made it the world’s most prestigious sporting event; and the city is proud to welcome those who arrive each April to share the time-honored traditions that mark this rite of spring.
For over 125 years, hospitality has been at the heart of Augusta, and that heart beats strong amidst the ingenuity and innovation of today’s prosperous and thriving community. There are those drawn to the city’s history and heritage, but alongside the banks of the Savannah River they also discover an Augusta that is alive for a new generation; one that celebrates the city’s arts and culture, flourishes with its dynamic recreational opportunities, revels in the renewed appreciation of the region’s storied past, and pulses with a contagious vitality that promises a bright tomorrow for the new Augustan.