A missing wedge at the Masters may have made Sarazen’s double-eagle a shot for the ages!

A missing wedge at the Masters may have made Sarazen’s double-eagle a shot for the ages!

The 1935 Masters, which was still the Augusta Invitation, was played in the first week of April. It became the Masters when sports writers like Grantland Rice began calling it by that name.

The betting favorite was Gene Sarazen at 6 to 1. The host, Bobby Jones, who was retired from competitive golf, was 8 to 1. It was five years since his famous “Grand Slam.” It was reported that the hometown money was pouring in on Jones. Eight entries were 10 to 1. That included the defending champion Horton Smith, US Open defender Olin Dutra, and Henry Picard.  

There were contradictions as to how Bobby Jones should be listed, amateur or professional. The Augusta National hierarchy thought of him as an amateur, but he certainly wasn’t. He had been paid to film a golf instruction series and Spalding was selling Robert T. Jones signature golf clubs. That was solved by not listing anyone in the program, scoreboard or pairings as a professional or amateur. In the Masters Media Guide which shows the round by round scores of every contestant, Jones is still listed as an amateur.

Thinking it was some land promotion, Sarazen didn’t even play in the inaugural tournament the year before. On the first day of the 1934 tournament Sarazen and Joe Kirkwood, Sr. had boarded a boat in Miami and headed to South America for a series of exhibitions. Sarazen did not play in Jones’ tournament even though several times Jones had helped out Sarazen by playing in the Miami Open where Sarazen was paid to recruit the best golfers. Sarazen was now aware that this was a real golf tournament.

Picard, with four wins, was the hottest golfer on the winter tour. In the last three weeks he had won the Charleston Open, finished third at the North and South Open and on Monday he had won the Atlanta Open with a last round 65. Along with that he was the leading money winner on the winter tour.

Even with a bogey five on the 18th hole, Picard led the Masters field the first day with a five under par 67. Sarazen and Willie Goggin posted 68s. Tommy Armour, who was paired with Sarazen, said he had never seen better golf. Armour said he had played with Vardon and Hagen many times and this was the best he had ever seen. He said, “It looked like Sarazen was using a rifle off the tee, it should have been a 62”.

On Friday it was more Picard, with a 68. The Atlanta Constitution reported “Candy Kid Leads Augusta.” Picard had been named professional at Hershey Country Club on November 1, 1934. Now the golf writers had hung that nickname on him. (Picard would spend 10 years in the Philadelphia PGA Section as a head professional.) Picard at nine under par (135), had a four-stroke lead. Sarazen and Ray Mangrum were tied for second with 139s.

On Saturday the weather turned bad. It was reported that the wind was “whipping hard and the rain was driving in sheets.” When Picard began to warm up, he saw that his sand-wedge was missing. Hoping that his club would be located and sent out to the golf course he played Saturday’s round without a sand-wedge, or any wedge, which was a major disadvantage. In bad weather a golfer misses more greens in regulation and needs a sand-wedge even more often. Picard’s choice of clubs was: driver, brassie, #4 wood, #2 to #9 irons, sand wedge, chipper, and putter.

Picard began his Saturday round in the height of the storm and took 76 strokes. He said the missing wedge cost him two strokes on the 3rd hole and another shot on the 4th hole and maybe another on the 5th. Later in the day the worst of the weather subsided and there were some decent rounds. Craig Wood shot a 68 to take the lead. It was the only sub 70 round of the day. Jones shot a respectable 73, but was now tied for 16th.

Later on Saturday Picard’s sand-wedge was found in the golf bag storage room. If it was just there in the bag-room why wasn’t it found earlier in the day!  Could all of that money wagered on Sarazen and Jones had something to do with its temporary disappearance? Picard said that from now on his clubs would be locked up after golf. 

Jones was at 146, but there weren’t that many players between him and Picard. A first nine 33 on Friday had sent his backers expectations soaring. Along with parimutuel betting, there had been a calcutta auction on Wednesday evening at the Bon Air Hotel, where the players had been sold to the highest bidders. The Augusta members had an unwritten agreement that Jones would bring the highest price. 

On Sunday the golfers faced near freezing weather and a rain soaked golf course. No one would break 70 that day. Craig Wood, the leader by one stroke over Dutra, was paired in the middle of the field. At that time the leaders and big names were spread out for gallery control as there were no spectator ropes. Wood was off at 1 p.m. with Picard and Sarazen at 2:24 with Hagen. When Wood posted a 73 he was the apparent winner at 282. Having lost his momentum, Picard took 75 strokes for 286.

The only player on the golf course with any chance was Sarazen, who was standing on the 15th tee needing to play the last four holes in three under par to catch Wood. After a good drive Sarazen holed out his second shot with a fairway wood for a double-eagle two. With that shot he had picked up those three needed strokes. Pars on the last three holes for a 70 put him in the clubhouse at 282, tied with Wood. Dutra was third at 284, with Picard fourth at 286. Picard had been nine under par after 36 holes and now six under par was playing off for the $5,000 Augusta Invitation title. First prize was $1,500. Jones tied for 25th.

A 36-hole playoff was held on Monday, which Sarazen won with a 144 against 149 for Wood. If Picard’s sand-wedge had not been missing on Saturday, Sarazen’s world famous double eagle might have been just a great golf shot that put him in a tie for second, in what is now known as a major championship.

3 thoughts on “A missing wedge at the Masters may have made Sarazen’s double-eagle a shot for the ages!

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  1. Very interesting sidelight that heavy betting might explain why Picard’s sand wedge was “lost” in the bag room. Thanks, lamar


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