Who Are The Most Famous Augusta National Members?

Who are known as being members of the club?

Augusta National members pictured in a montage
(Image credit: Future)

Who are the most famous Augusta National members?

This highly exclusive club does not publicly speak about its membership nor even to say how large it is. Indeed, who even are the members? The club does not let on.

Well, not normally. When Augusta National admitted its first two women members in 2012 they trumpeted this fact as “a proud moment in our club's history.” These newbies were former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and financier Darla Moore, whose net worth was estimated at $2.3 billion at the time.

It is known that the club has at least two more female members, for IBM’s Ginni Rometty has also subsequently joined. So, too, has former USGA President Diana Murphy.

In 2015, Bloomberg listed 118 members of the club (opens in new tab), and classed five of them as billionaires. Warren Buffett, said to be the world's sixth-richest person with an estimated net worth of $117bn, was among these. As Bloomberg says: “Membership remains one of the most sought-after affirmations of corporate success.”

You cannot apply for membership, you have to be invited. (The good news is that even if you are not a member, there are still several ways to play at Augusta National (opens in new tab).)

Unsurprisingly, the membership is not young. When USA Today published a leaked list of Augusta National’s membership of 2002, 39-year-old Jefferson Knox, the famous Masters marker who plays the course on Saturday and Sunday of tournament week if an odd number of players make the cut, was listed as the youngest.

Jeff Knox and Rory McIlroy pictured

Jeff Knox and Rory McIlroy played together in round three of the 2014 Masters

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Knox is one of the most famous Augusta National members, at least in golfing circles anyway, for he reputedly holds the club course record of 61. Paul Casey remembers Knox “telling me he aims left of the pin on 6 because he hates hitting it and ricocheting back into the bunker. Then he landed it a foot or two from the hole.”

There were only three, among the roughly 300 members, who were listed as being in their forties. One of these was Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Gates, whose net worth is estimated to be around $134bn, had a handicap index of 24.1 in 2015.

Few famous names from the world of golf are Augusta National members. However Jack Nicklaus is, and Arnold Palmer was. Other Masters Champions are considered honorary members, and are awarded the club’s famous Green Jacket at the prizegiving (opens in new tab).

Sir Michael Bonallack, a former leading amateur golfer who three times played in the Masters, as the winner of the previous year’s Amateur Championship, is another famous golfing figure among the membership. He is best known for being R&A Secretary from 1983 to 1999.

Media mogul Ron Townsend became the first African-American member, in 1990.

Many US Presidents have played the course. Ronald Reagan stayed there as a guest of his Secretary of State, George Shultz, a member. He was there when a gunman took hostages in the pro shop, demanding to speak to the President. Reagan phoned the gunman by mobile from the 16th green.

Three men sit on a bench

President Dwight D Eisenhower pictured between Byron Nelson (left) and Ben Hogan (right) at Augusta National in 1953

(Image credit: Getty Images)

But only one President has worn the club's Green Jacket. Dwight D Eisenhower was a member of Augusta National (opens in new tab) from 1948 until his death. He is one of the most famous Augusta National members as the tree which stood on the left side of the 17th hole was nicknamed after him. This was because Eisenhower’s drives often clattered into it and he unsuccessfully demanded that it be cut down.

Eisenhower's tree was removed in 2014, 45 years after his death, after suffering damage from an ice storm.

Other obvious famous members include the club's current and previous chairmen, Fred Ridley and Billy Payne. Ridley, a former US amateur champion, is the club's first ever chairman to have played in the Masters Tournament itself, whilst businessman Billy Payne served as the club's chairman from 2006-2017.

Contributing Writer Golf courses and travel are Roderick’s particular interests and he worked as 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 is a member of Trevose Golf & Country Club and has played golf in around 20 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.