Long before Augusta National became a harbor to the greatest moments in professional golf, even before it was became home to the Masters, it was an anchorage for amateur golf.
In the history of Augusta, which dates back to the early 20th century, it actually belongs in the amateur game. This, of course, is thanks to its founder, Bobby Jones. Who is the most famous amateur in the entire history of golf, a player who won seven majorswithout ever turning “Pro.” Rather, Jones moonlighted in professional golf from his day job as an attorney.
In later years, after Jones and Clifford “Cliff” Roberts founded Augusta National Golf Club on the remains of a peach farm in rural Georgia, the two men set out to form a golf tournament to bring notoriety to their great course. They created what would later become known as the Masters, and in Jones’ spirit, ensured amateur golf would serve as an indelible piece of the tournament’s tradition.
How Mike Tirico became the most qualified ‘amateur’ in Masters History;
Today, the Masters’ amateur tradition is among its most celebrated acts. Every year, Augusta National invites its amateurs to stay in the vantage point; a bunk-style dormitory above the clubhouse. The club also hosts an annual amateur dinner on the night before the Masters begins, an idea that came at the suggestion of Jones himself. On Sunday afternoon, when the winner is chauffeured into Butler Cabin for his televised interview, the Masters low amateur is chauffeured alongside him.
This year, the tradition will continue yet again with one of the best amateur fields in recent history. Below, meet each of the six amateurs who will be competing in this year’s Masters.
Kieta is the number one ranked amateur in the world, and one of the best young players to enter the Masters field since Viktor Hovland won low amateur honors in 2019, Keita Nakajima is a rising star in the golf world.
Keita is something of a superstar in his native Japan, seen by many as the natural successor to Hideki Matsuyama who is atop the country’s golf mantel. He finished T28 in his first PGA Tour start at the Zozo Championship in October, and has played in a handful of Tour events already. He enters the Masters’ has already won on the Japan Golf Tourin 2021.
James is the current reigning U.S. Amateur champion, James Piot coasts into Augusta National on the high of his surprise, with a come-from-behind win at Oakmont last summer. The 23-year-old is a fifth-year senior at Michigan State, where he owns the program record for single-season scoring average.
19-year-old Aaron is the pride of the Cayman Islands. Aaron Jarvis is ticking off a Masters first in 2022 in more ways than one. Jarvis, who plays collegiately for UNLV, won the Latin American Amateur Championship to earn an invite into the field at Augusta National. In doing so, he’ll be the first player from the Cayman Islandsto tee it up in the event. Augusta will mark the first in a storybook summer for the teenager, who will also be the first from his country ever to tee it up at the Open Championship at St. Andrews in July.
Owner of the most dramatic of the Masters amateur entrance stories, Shepherd climbed back from eight down (and four down with four to play) to win the 2021 British Amateur Open. He is a native of St. Andrews, Scotland, Shepherdwill look to defend his title at the British Amateur in June to earn entrance into a second-consecutive Open Championship in his backyard at the Old Course.
Austin Greaser as a kid loved to play in tournaments and also dreamed on the higher cadre is now fulfilling his dreams. Austin who hails from the home of the most decorated champion in Masters history, Jack Nicklaus. Finished as the runner-up at last year’s U.S. Amateur, to be able to qualify for this years Masters’ tournament.
It feels a bit unhanded to include Stewart Hagestad, age 30, amongst this list of young up-and-comers. The reigning U.S. Mid-Am champion is something of an amateur lifer, having competed in events on the amateur circuit for the better part of a decade. This year will mark his second Masters start — he finished T36 in 2017, becoming the first Mid-Am entrant to make the cut at Augusta National.