The "Historic" Butler Cabin

 

One thing I miss now that Hootie Johnson is no longer Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club is his welcome to “the historic Butler Cabin” at the start of that very odd ceremony of presenting the green jacket to the winner of the Master’s golf tournament.

 

Leaving aside the reason why this ceremony takes place in a room in a cabin in front of an open fireplace, with nobody to witness it apart from TV viewers across the world, it’s that word “historic” that always struck me as being interesting. Agreed, Billy Payne, who has conducted the ceremony since Hootie retired in 2006, describes the cabin as being “famous”, but Hootie always stuck to “historic”.

 

So that must mean, presumably, that the cabin is of considerable age, or that some great event took place here. Given that Augusta is in Georgia, perhaps this was the scene of some Civil War battle or siege? Did the heroic Butler family, armed with only pitchforks and a blunderbuss, hold off an army of Northerners until they were starved into submission? Or perhaps Butler was a Confederate general who, with his trusty companions, planned their tactics around the table, in front of this very fireplace, where now last year’s winner turns into a butler for the day as he helps his successor into a jacket that is two sizes too big or too small?

 

OK, this is golf we are talking about here, so maybe we should limit the history to that of golf. The Masters was first held in 1934, so presumably the Butler Cabin was the original clubhouse, and this was where Bobby Jones and Cliff Roberts drew up the rules? Or was it from here that the first players set off for the first tee?

 

We Brits appreciate that, to an American, history describes anything that happened the day before yesterday, so a building that dates from the mid 1930s could conceivably be “historic”, especially if it witnessed events of great importance to the story of the sport for which it is renowned, but it turns out that the truth is somewhat different.

 

Indeed, the “historic” Butler Cabin has seen far less history than the course on which it sits, having been built as recently as 1964! The first green jacket ceremony only took place there in 1965, so this year’s ceremony was the 45th. So when exactly did this ceremony, and its location, become “historic”?

 

Even allowing for America’s foreshortened view of what constitutes history, there are other features of Augusta National that have a much better claim to the epithet. How about the Eisenhower Cabin, for example, that was built in 1953 for the use of the President, who had been an Augusta member since 1948? At least everyone knows who Eisenhower was!

 

I am sorry that Hootie and “historic” have given way to Billy and “famous”, simply because it was something to look forward to each year! Fame is more easily acquired than history, and I am quite prepared to associate the Butler Cabin with the former.

 

I apologise for not offering you a photo of the said Cabin, but finding a non-copyright image proved impossible, and Augusta National have far longer pockets than I have when it comes to lawsuits! However, the photo is of another southern golf course, and those red things might just about be azaleas!

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Comments 13 comments

tom 6 years ago

The information on the butler cabin is completely WRONG..the cabin was built by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad in the 40s , president Champ Davis was very active at Augusta as a member ....


The Indexer profile image

The Indexer 6 years ago from UK Author

Well, I've checked my sources and I'll stick with the date of 1964!


dan 6 years ago

don't lump all americans with Hooty Johnson or anyone in Georga. very few even know of butler cabin


The Indexer profile image

The Indexer 6 years ago from UK Author

OK, I'm probably being unfair to many Americans as regards historical perspective, but it's not the first time I've come across similar attitudes. The United States is, after all, still a young country - my grandmother's grandfather was born when you were still 13 colonies!


huntnpoon 6 years ago

So why is the "Butler Cabin" named so? I never saw the definitive answer.


2patricias profile image

2patricias 6 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

Now we are curious - and might have to watch the presentation ceremony next time around. Maybe you could take a photo of your television screen and add it to this hub.


Charlie 5 years ago

Thomas B. Butler was Ikes personal financial adviser. Ike had the cabin built for him.

T.Butler was on the board of the Atlantic Coast Line.He was pres of a large bank in Baltimore,Md.

Any other info you would like??


Ignatius Reilly 5 years ago

Charlie has provided some info and is willing to provide more.

So I'll repeat the original question: "Why is it called 'historic'". I agree that with decades of Masters winners receiving their green jackets there that it is famous. But historic?

It was built in 1964 according to the masters.com website. I'll take that as accurate.


Patrick  5 years ago

Here's some history for the Brits - without Augusta National member, Ike, you'd be speaking German.


lagpressure 5 years ago

Butler Cabin was not hosting the jacket ceremony in 1965. I have old films of the presentation happening outside on the practice putting green below the scoreboard. I know at least 1960 through 1976 the presentation was outside. I don't care what The Masters site says. Bobby Jones died in 1971 and never saw a presentation in "The Cabin".

They don't talk about president Cliff Roberts committing suicide on the golf course either, or not sending Charlie Sifford an invitation after he won the Los Angeles Open because he was "of color".


The Indexer profile image

The Indexer 5 years ago from UK Author

Did they not, at one time, both do a presentation in the Cabin and a "public" one outside afterwards?

It must seem odd to the crowds who have witnessed the drama of the final hole to be shut out of the moment when the winners are given their rewards - it is hard to think of any other major sports event where this happens.

I always think the "cosy" fireside chat with the winner being interviewed by a rank amateur (as an interviewer)such as Hootie or Billy to be embarrassing as well as anti-climactic. I don't know how the award is presented at the US Open or the PGA, but the ceremony at the Open Championship, in the open in front of cheering crowds, strikes me as being much more satisfactory.

Incidentally, in reply to Patrick, the same could presumably also be said of Joseph Stalin! It was teamwork that decided the outcome of World War Two, and all the members were essential to achieving the result.


Samuel Wolpert 5 years ago

Did Rory McIlroy slice his ball into the Butler cabin on Sunday or did he hook his ball?


wetnosedogs profile image

wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

Interesting. And yeah, those red things do look like azaleas! Enjoyed this hub.

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