Shipley The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum opened in Cooperstown, New York, on June 12, 1939, and the Professional Golfers Association responded by inducting several legendary golfers, among them Bobby Jones, into its own hall. But the P.G.A.’s hall as yet had neither a building nor a plan for one.
Clifford Roberts, who was Augusta National’s chairman and co-founder, embraced the idea and suggested several sites on the club’s property. His favorite, initially, was an elevated six-acre parcel roughly two hundred fifty yards to the east of the tenth green. This was one of the building lots that the club had been trying to sell for a decade. Among the advantages of the site, Roberts wrote to Jones, was that visitors to the hall “would have four good views of the course instead of one.” He also liked the idea that “members using the golf course would have a good view of an attractive building”—though from a distance.
Roberts was especially concerned that golf’s hall of fame should be more compelling than baseball’s. A few days after the 1941 Masters, he wrote a lengthy letter to Olmsted Bros.—the club’s landscape architects at that time—in which he described a number of features that he thought ought to be included. “The more I think about it,” he wrote, “the more I feel that a building that houses a few plaques or a few bronze busts and that offers nothing else to the public, would prove to be a dull, worthless type of project, having no excuse for its existence except to attempt to glorify the leaders of golf. And I doubt that very much would be added to their fame.” One wing of the building, he continued, could contain “automatic movie machines,” which, for a quarter, would show instructional films by the game’s great teachers. Another wing could serve as both a comprehensive library and a bookstore. Visitors would be able to buy souvenir booklets, postcards depicting the Augusta National course, and “popular-priced copies” of some of the books in the library.
Roberts’s boldest suggestion was to construct “a miniature Augusta National course surrounding the Hall of Fame which would be a practical pitch and putt course and could be made a most attractive part of the landscaping scheme.” The holes would be scaled-down replicas of the holes on the big course. He proposed a fee of twenty-five cents per round. He also suggested building an “especially attractive” public driving range based on a plan that Jones had come across and thought highly of.
Despite Roberts’s enthusiasm, the project never came to anything, and there was no further discussion of building a miniature Augusta National. The two members that Roberts had been counting to pay for the project lost interest in it, and the club was not in a financial position to follow through on its own. And then news from Europe and the Pacific made other concerns more pressing.