Magnolia Lane At Augusta National Golf Club

Magnolia Lane at Augusta National Golf Club

Magnolia Lane at Augusta National Golf Club is, really, just a driveway. But it is perhaps the most famous driveway in America. And every year at Masters Tournament time, it leads golfers and golf fans on a weeklong journey.

There are thousands of Magnolia Lanes around the United States, but particularly in the South. It's a common street name, and it's a common nickname for any road or driveway leading up to a house that is lined with magnolia trees. It's a common name for plantation-style homes in the South, too.

But every golfer knows that in our game there is only one Magnolia Lane: The one that leads golfers into Augusta National Golf Club.

Anyone lucky enough to visit Augusta National, much less play in The Masters, gets to the clubhouse by turning onto club grounds off of Washington Road in Augusta, Ga. Visitors pass through a guarded, gated entrance and turn onto Eisenhower Road, a very short drive inside the club grounds. Then, visitors turn onto Magnolia Lane, which takes them first to Founders Circle, inside the middle of a roundabout, and behind it the ANGC clubhouse.

Magnolia Lane is 330 yards long and is lined on each side with 61 magnolia trees, 122 total. The trees date to the 1850s when they were planted as seeds by the Berckman family, who owned and operated the Fruitlands Nursery that sat on the land now occupied by Augusta National. Magnolia Lane was unpaved when Augusta National opened in the early 1930s; today it is surfaced with asphalt. The paving took place in 1947.

When the weather and timing are right, the trees form a dense canopy overhead as their branches meet high above the road. It creates an effect almost of going back in time — a tunnel to a glorious past full of memories for, for example, past champions.

Gary Player first played in The Masters in 1957. "I remember my first drive on Magnolia Lane as if it happened yesterday," he said. "I drove as slow as I could." In many years over the decades since, Player preferred to walk up Magnolia Lane to better soak it all in.

Arnie felt the same way: "I remember like it was yesterday the feeling as I drove up Magnolia Lane into Augusta National Golf Club for the first time," Palmer wrote in his 1999 autobiography.

During Masters Tournament week, guards are posted at both ends of Magnolia Lane and the only people allowed to drive or walk it are the golfers playing in the tournament, plus past winners and Augusta National members.

(Framed prints of Magnolia Lane photos are available on Amazon.com for any golfers looking for something to hang on a wall.)

Photo credit: "magnolia lane" by lisapeck224 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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