Clifford Roberts

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Clifford Roberts (March 6, 1894 – September 29, 1977) was an American investment dealer and golf administrator.


Born in Morning Sun, Iowa, Roberts had a troubled family life as a boy, and left school in the ninth grade. He worked at a great variety of jobs all around the United States, and eventually chose the investment industry for his career.[1] He served as Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club from 1931 through 1976, and was named "Chairman in Memoriam" after his death. He also served as Chairman of the Masters Tournament from 1934 through 1976.

An investment banker on Wall Street from the late 1920s, Roberts was a partner with Reynolds & Company. He was the co-founder with Bobby Jones of the Augusta National Golf Club. In the early years, he and Jones personally extended invitations to the tournament. Roberts' friendship with American president Dwight Eisenhower led to the Eisenhowers making Augusta National their retreat during the 1950s.

Roberts was sometimes described as a 'benevolent dictator'. Roberts received many awards and honors during his lifetime, including service on the PGA Advisory Committee from its inception in 1943 until his death, appointment by the United States Golf Association to serve on the Bob Jones Award Selection Committee, and election to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1978. He was the author of The Story of the Augusta National Golf Club, published in 1976, and a subject of a book titled, The Making of the Masters, Clifford Roberts, Augusta National, and Golf's Most Prestigious Tournament, by David Owen, published in 1999.

It was not until 1975 that Lee Elder became the first black golfer to play in the Masters Tournament (although he was not the first non-white golfer to compete; Sukree Onsham of Thailand played in 1970 and 1971). Roberts is quoted as saying "to make an exception would be practicing discrimination in reverse." Lee Elder later said, "I don't want anything special. I will make it on my own."

According to the New York Times, another comment attributed to Roberts is: "As long as I'm alive, all the golfers will be white and all the caddies will be black."[2][3]

Roberts, age 83, committed suicide by gunshot in 1977 on the banks of Ike's Pond at Augusta National. He had been in ill health for several months.[4]


  1. ^ The Making of the Masters: Clifford Roberts, Augusta National, and Golf's Most Prestigious Tournament, by David Owen, Simon and Schuster, 1999, ISBN 0-684-85729-4
  2. ^ Reilly, Rick (April 21, 1997). "Strokes of Genius". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved January 1, 2009. 
  3. ^ Crouse, Karen (April 4, 2012). "Treasure of Golf's Sad Past, Black Caddies Vanish in Era of Riches". The New York Times. Retrieved April 4, 2012. 
  4. ^ "Masters 'ruler' Roberts dead". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. September 30, 1977. p. 27. Retrieved August 2, 2012. 

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