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Posted April 6, 2015, 8:39 pm
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Amateurs have always been welcome in Augusta

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    Amateurs have always been welcome in Augusta
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    Billy Joe Patton was twice the low amateur in the Masters - 1955 and 1956

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    Amateurs have always been welcome in Augusta
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    Ken Venturi of San Francisco, Ca., drives from the 14th tee as he blazed through his opening round with a 66 to take the lead in the 1956 Masters.

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    Amateurs have always been welcome in Augusta
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    Amateur golfer Bobby Jones looks at his famous putter "Calamity Jane" at the Brae Burn Country Club in Newton, Mass. Sept. 12, 1928. Jones won golf's Grand Slam in 1930 and was given a ticker-tape parade up Broadway.

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    Amateurs have always been welcome in Augusta
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    Frank Stranahan (center) won two British Amateurs and played in the Masters Tournament 12 times.

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    Amateurs have always been welcome in Augusta
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    Career-amateur Charlie Coe makes a splash as he drives his ball from mud at the edge of a lake bordering the 15th green in the second round of the 1951 Masters. He tied for 12th that year. Coe would compete in 19 Masters from 1949 to 1971, finishing second in 1961.

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    Amateurs have always been welcome in Augusta
    Photos description

    Ken Venturi drives from the 15th tee in the second round of the 1956 Masters. Competing as an amateur, he finished one shot behind Jack Burke Jr.

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    Amateurs have always been welcome in Augusta
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    Billy Joe Patton shows the official score card to his mother after taking an early lead at the 1954 Masters.

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    Amateurs have always been welcome in Augusta
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    In 1930, Bobby Jones won the U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, British Open and British Amateur.

It’s no secret that Bobby Jones dearly wanted an amateur to win the Masters Tournament.

After all, Jones was the greatest amateur golfer of all time. He retired after winning the Grand Slam in 1930, and soon set out to build his dream course in Augusta.

When the inaugural Augusta National Invitation Tournament was held in 1934, Jones made sure amateurs were well represented.

Jones played in the first 12 Masters, but never did better than the tie for 13th he achieved in the first one.

After World War II, amateurs continued to come to Augusta in large numbers, and a few even challenged the top pros of the day.

In 1947, Frank Stranahan closed with 68 to finish two shots behind winner Jimmy Demaret. He tied for second.

A few years later, in 1954, Billy Joe Patton finished one stroke out of a playoff between Sam Snead and Ben Hogan.

Patton found the water on Nos. 13 and 15 in the final round, and it cost him dearly. But he kept a sense of humor about his near-miss.

“If I’d won that tournament, I’d had difficulty handling the money, the liquor would have been a problem, and with the women I didn’t have a chance,” he once said with a laugh.

Ken Venturi dominated the 1956 Masters for three rounds. He led after each of the first three rounds, but he skied to an 80 on the final day in gusty conditions. He finished one shot behind Jack Burke Jr.

Charlie Coe, another career amateur, had three top-10 finishes from 1959 to 1962 and tied for second in 1961.

With the advent of televised golf in the late 1950s, prize money began to increase and career amateurs became fewer and fewer. Jones famously asked Jack Nicklaus to consider remaining an amateur, but Nicklaus felt that he needed to repay his father for supporting his golf career.

After reaching a high of 26 amateurs in the 1966 Masters, the numbers began to dwindle. The Masters did away with inviting Walker Cup players by the late 1980s, and in 1989 it revised the standards to just include the U.S. Amateur champion and runner-up, the British Amateur winner, the U.S. Public Links champion and the U.S. Mid-Amateur winner.

Since then, two more slots have been added for winners of the Asia-Pacific Amateur and Latin America Amateur, both created with help from Augusta National and the Masters.

2015 marked the final time the Public Links winner was invited; the tournament is no longer held by the USGA.

Bobby Jones

After capturing the U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, British Open and British Amateur during the magical year of 1930, Bobby Jones made his retirement public a few weeks later. The burden of being the favorite and the man to beat – not to mention the expectations of friends and an adoring public – took a toll.
 
After retirement, Jones set out to build his dream course: The result was Augusta National. Jones never intended to play host to a major golf tournament; rather, he wanted a place to relax with friends and enjoy golf.
 
“That was the thesis of Au­gus­­ta National. He had played in front of the adoring crowds, but he really enjoyed the same thing we enjoy every Saturday and Sunday,” Jones historian Sid Matthew said. “A quiet round at your own golf club with your buddies. At the end of the day, go into the clubhouse and have a big laugh and share a drink. And your life is richer for it.”
 
Thanks to Jones and Clifford Roberts, Augusta National and the Masters became the model club and tournament. With Jones coaxed into playing in the first Augusta National Invitation Tournament in 1934, the tournament had instant credibility.
 
By the end of the 1930s, the tournament had become known as the Masters and was a fixture on the professional golf circuit.
 
Jones’ presence can still be felt. He is the club’s president in perpetuity, and artifacts from his playing days are on permanent display. Jones’ thoughts on etiquette are reprinted each year in the Masters spectator guide.