The Flora At Augusta National Golf Club

The flora at Augusta National is one of the aspects that make this course so special, and such a visual delight to television audiences worldwide

Rory McIlroy plays a recovery shot from the azalea bushes, one of the most famous flora at Augusta National
Rory McIlroy plays a recovery shot from the azalea bushes
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Flora At Augusta National 

The flora at Augusta National adds to the spectacle of the Masters tournament. It also harks back to this plot of land’s former usage as a plant nursery.

When Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts were looking for somewhere to build their golf course, a mutual friend suggested the 365 acres formerly owned by Fruitland Nurseries. This land had already been bought by a hotel company but, unable to afford to build their intended hotel due to finances, the company was looking to sell the property.

This land had been an indigo plantation which was purchased in 1857 by Louis Mathieu Edouard Berckmans, whose hobby was horticulturalism. Berckmans’ son, Prosper Julius Alphonso, was a professional horticulturist. Father and son set up Fruitland Nurseries, which imported many trees and plants.

A great variety of flowering plants and trees, including a long row of magnolias, which were planted before the Civil War, and azalea, a plant Prosper popularised, remained on the land.

Both of these have become famous parts of the Augusta National landscape. All the holes at Augusta are named after flowers and shrubs and the 13th hole at Augusta National is called Azalea, and on this hole are about 1,600 azaleas. Around the course are about 30 different varieties of azalea. The row of magnolia line Magnolia Lane, the entrance to the club. Magnolia is also the name of the 5th hole at Augusta.

Magnolia Lane

Magnolia Lane

(Image credit: Getty Images)

But much of the planting has been by Augusta National itself. When the course was being constructed, Jones and Roberts invited Prosper Berckmans’ son Louis, by now 74 years old, to advise on plantings.

Jones and Roberts asked Henry Parsons Crowell, founder the Quaker Oats Company, to help him in this task. Cromwell had a home in Augusta and was a keen gardener and was appointed Chairman of the Beautification Committee.

Crowell and Berckmans arranged for the planting of more than 4,000 plants and trees in the spring of 1932. Each hole was to have its own distinct flora, and this was to be reflected in the hole name as all holes at Augusta are named after the flora on them,. Some of the hole names have changed over time. For example the 12th at Augusta National was originally called Three Pines, after the trio of pine trees by the tee. But the pines all died, so the 12th was called Golden Bell instead, after the deciduous flowering shrub behind the green.

The club estimates that since the course was built, more than 80,000 plants of over 350 varieties have been added on Augusta National’s property. Many of the flowers selected are ones which will be in bloom around the first full week of April, the date of the Masters.

Roderick Easdale

Contributing Writer Golf courses and travel are Roderick’s particular interests and he was contributing editor for the first few years of the Golf Monthly Travel Supplement. He writes travel articles and general features for the magazine, travel supplement and website. He also compiles the magazine's crossword. He is a member of Trevose Golf & Country Club and has played golf in around two dozen countries. Cricket is his other main sporting love. He is the author of five books, four of which are still in print: The Novel Life of PG Wodehouse; The Don: Beyond Boundaries; Wally Hammond: Gentleman & Player and England’s Greatest Post-War All Rounder.