Clifford Roberts, co-founder of Augusta National, did more for the golf spectator than many people realize. His innovations are common place in the world of golf today.
Clifford Roberts was born on a farm in Morning Sun, Iowa, in 1894. An astute investment banker, Roberts made his mark on Wall Street as a Partner with Reynolds & Company.
He was the co-founder with Bobby Jones of Augusta National Golf Club. Roberts served as Chairman of Augusta National from 1931 through 1976 and was named Chairman in Memoriam after his death in 1977. He was Chairman of the Masters Tournament from 1934 through 1976.
Under his direction, the Masters made numerous innovations that are now commonplace in golf. He changed the locations of perimeter mounds to improve gallery viewing. He was the first to use a series of Leader Boards placed throughout the course. He also devised a system for showing the cumulative score of each player—red numbers for under par, a green zero for par, and green numbers for over par. Roberts played a key role in the first Masters television broadcast on CBS, in 1956, and in many thereafter, working closely with the network.
It was Roberts who in 1948 invited General Dwight Eisenhower to visit Augusta National and who would later become a political and financial advisor to the President. Eisenhower became an active member of the Club. During his lifetime, Roberts received many awards and honors, including service on the PGA Advisory Committee from its inception in 1943 until his death, appointment by the USGA to serve on the Bob Jones Award Selection Committee, and enshrinement in the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1978. He was the author of “The Story of the Augusta National Golf Club,” published in 1976, and a subject of “The Making of the Masters: Cliff Roberts, Augusta National, and Golf’s Most Prestigious Tournament,” published in 1999.