The Nelson Bridge at Augusta National

Photo of Nelson Bridge over Raes Creek at Augusta National Golf Club

The Nelson Bridge at Augusta National Golf Club is one of the famous landmarks on the golf course that is home to The Masters Tournament. It is named after an icon, and it is situated on golf holes that have become iconic.

The Nelson Bridge crosses Rae's Creek, which flows in front of the green of the 12th hole at Augusta National. The creek also cuts in front of the Masters Tournament teeing ground of the 13th hole, separating that hole's tee from its fairway.

That is where the Nelson Bridge sits: It spans Rae's Creek from the 13th tee to the 13th fairway. The par-5 13th hole is named Azalea. When golfers leave the 12th green (which is accessed via the Hogan Bridge), they walk over to the 13th tee. After playing their tee shots, they walk across Nelson Bridge and continue up the 13th fairway.

Just like the Hogan Bridge, the Nelson Bridge is a gently arched stone span, with three smaller arches underneath. It is approximately 60 feet long. The walkway atop the bridge is covered with artificial turf (walking in golf shoes over the stones of the bridge would be very slippery).

Nelson Bridge Namesake, Dedication and Plaque

Who is the Nelson Bridge named after? Byron Nelson. Nelson was a two-time winner at Augusta National, first in the 1937 Masters, then in the 1942 Masters. He also finished second twice. Nelson was a golfer renowned for his kindness and classiness, qualities that endeared him to Augusta National and Masters Tournament co-founder Bobby Jones.

In 1958, Augusta National decided to honor two golfers who were Masters champions and who also, by virtue of being from the Dallas-Forth Worth area, were tied together as friends and lifelong competitors. Two bridges already spanned Rae's Creek at the corner of the golf course where the 12th green and 13th tee sit. Those bridges were named to honor Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson, becoming the Hogan Bridge and Nelson Bridge.

"We've tried to dedicate these bridges to two men who have meant as much to this tournament as any two men ever have," said Jones on that day.

That day was April 2, 1958. In addition to naming Nelson Bridge that day, a plaque was also placed in the ground next to the bridge. That plaque reads:

"This bridge dedicated April 2, 1958, to commemorate Byron Nelson's spectacular play on these two holes (12-13) when he scored 2-3 to pick up six strokes on Ralph Guldahl and win the 1937 Masters Tournament. Recognition also to Guldahl, who came back with an eagle 3 on 13 to gain winning position in 1939."
So the plaque pays homage not only to Byron Nelson's 1937 win, but also to Ralph Guldahl's 1939 Masters victory. And, as you can see in the following photo of the plaque, it is titled "Byron Nelson Bridge." Today, most everyone simply calls it the Nelson Bridge.

Photo of plaque next to Byron Nelson Bridge at Augusta National

Photo credits:
Top: "13 tee nelson bridge" by lisapeck224 is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Bottom: "13 byron nelson bridge plaque" by lisapeck224 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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