Every golf fan knows the Masters, but the tournament’s home club, Augusta National, prefers a bit of privacy. It’s nearly impossible for the average golfer to get a tee time at the famed course, let alone a membership to Augusta National Golf Club. In fact, the club is so secretive that we have little insight into its membership list or how exactly how its membership process works. Here’s what we do know.
You Need an Impressive Resume to Become a Member
The easiest way to spot an Augusta National member is by their iconic green jacket. Short of that, however, it’s hard to guess who’s in and who’s not. In 2015, Bloomberg published the most extensive roster of Augusta National members to date, which lists about 40 percent of the club’s roughly 300 members at the time.
The list included some pretty heavy hitters, including Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, two of the richest men in the world. In addition to finance and technology, confirmed members have seen success in all sorts of industries including government, medicine, and sports. In fact, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was spotted in his green jacket at the 2014 Masters.
Billy Horschel and David Dorman
Of course, living or working in the club’s home state doesn’t hurt when it comes to becoming an Augusta National member. The current and former CEOs of some of Georgia’s largest companies are members of the club including David Dorman, a native of the state, who served as CEO of AT&T, the largest telecommunications company in the world.
Members, however, aren’t required to be local. Among Augusta National’s confirmed members, Jacko Maree travels furthest to play on the club’s world-famous course. The South African is the former CEO of Standard Bank, the largest bank in Africa.
Money Doesn’t Hurt Either
While simply being rich isn’t enough to get you into Augusta National, you may have noticed it’s something that most of the club’s confirmed members have in common. We don’t know exactly how much it costs to join, but most estimates put the price around $50,000, plus annual dues. While that’s certainly less than many other private clubs – including Trump National in New Jersey, which costs closer to $200,000 – it’s not an insignificant amount of money.
Bloomberg’s 2015 Augusta National membership list included just five billionaires, but the actual number is likely higher. Among the club’s wealthiest members are oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens and Pete Coors, chairman of the beer company MillerCoors.
Most Members Come from Outside the Golf World
A number of confirmed Augusta National members come from the world of sports including former college football coach Lou Holtz, Atlanta Braves CEO Terry McGuirk and NFL Hall of Famer Lynn Swann. Oddly enough, it seems that relatively few members made their careers in golf.
Though all Masters champions are named honorary members of the club, the only tournament winners to go on to join Augusta National as full members are Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.
We Know a Few Noteworthy Firsts
While Augusta National likes to retain an air of mystery, it found its self in the headlines for years over its refusal to admit female members. That changed in 2012 when Augusta National announced that it would invite two women to join its ranks: former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and financier Darla Moore. Moore, a partner at private investment firm Rainwater, Inc., is so successful that the University of South Carolina’s College of Business is named after her.
We also know that Ron Townsend, former president of Gannett Television Group, became Augusta National’s first black member in 1990.
You Have to Know Someone to Get In
No matter how successful you are, becoming a member of Augusta National isn’t easy. It’s believed that to get a spot on the membership waitlist, you must be recommended by a current member. Full membership openings don’t come up often … only when a member passes away or chooses not to renew. To get off the waitlist and become an official member, a candidate must be nominated by at least four current members. Not surprisingly, it can become quite competitive.
Most Members are Pretty Good Golfers
In 2006, former Augusta National president Hootie Johnson told Golf Magazine that the average handicap among club members was 13.2. Though a former Augusta National caddie told the magazine the number was likely closer to 15, that’s not too shabby!
Keep your eyes peeled for those green jackets come Masters weekend – you might just uncover some of the Augusta National mystery!