March 30, 2017
As the golf world turns their attention to Augusta National Golf Club next week, stories of tradition, history and legend dominate the conversation. From remarkable comebacks to generational firsts, The Masters annually delivers a familiar spectacle like few other events in sports. But deep in the annals of this historic venue is a story not often publicized – the story that intertwines Augusta with our very own namesake, Joe “J.B.” Carr.
Bobby Jones, founder of Augusta National and the Masters tournament, won two of his most celebrated championships in England. In 1926, he famously won the Open Championship at Lytham as an amateur. Then, in 1930, he captured the British Open Championship at Royal Liverpool (Hoylake). Both courses held much significance to Joe Carr, who was on the winning Walker Cup team at Lytham and won the British Amateur at Royal Liverpool (Hoylake).
Perhaps it was those competitive similarities that led to one famous letter delivered in 1967.
“Dear Joe – To my great delight I have just found on my desk your letter to Cliff Roberts saying that you will play in the Masters this year. Please be assured that it will give us all, especially me, much pleasure to welcome you. I hope you will have your game in the best possible condition and that we may be able to cause you to have a good time. With best regards …”
The personalized letter from one of the largest figures in golf touched Joe greatly. With that invitation, Joe Carr became Ireland’s first representative at the Masters. Upon his arrival, he gratefully accepted the first club membership offered to an Irishman.
Joe’s participation at the Masters, where he competed three times, came with an ironic sense of humor. For his 1967 debut, Carr was paired with his great friend and defending champion Jack Nicklaus. Carr qualified for the four rounds and Nicklaus missed the cut. A year later, Carr was paired with former champ Arnold Palmer. Carr qualified for the four rounds and Palmer missed the cut. An exasperated Cliff Roberts lamented, “We’re thinking of inviting Carr back next year but nobody wants to play with him?” (The answer: Sam Snead. Both players missed the cut that year).
Each time Joe returned to Georgia, he made a point to visit Bobby Jones, who at this point in his life was battling a crippling back disease.
In 1961 Joe Carr received the Bob Jones Award – the highest honor given by the U.S. Golf Association in recognition of distinguished sportsmanship in golf. Other honorees include Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and U.S. President George H.W. Bush.
Memorabilia from Joe’s time at Augusta is on display for guests making the pilgrimage to Sutton Golf Club’s J.B. Carr room. This year, The Open returns to Liverpool as Royal Birkdale plays host.
For travel itineraries, rates and additional information, please contact a Carr Golf Travel representative.