Carl Jackson, who will caddie in his 50th Masters, has carried Ben Crenshaw’s bag since 1976. (Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff)
Making History at the Masters
In LA (Lovely Augusta) the first week in April signifies the start of Spring Break for students in Richmond county public schools and the commencement of the Professional Golf Association (PGA)’s premier event, the Masters tournament. For seventy-five years, the greens owned and created by Bobby Jones has set the course for golf majors. An international tournament, the Masters brings players and people from all around the world to see the well-manicured greens, blooming azaleas, colorful dogwoods and woodsy pines. The Masters golf tournament is an event steeped in tradition and fanfare, and brings a large amount of revenue to the “Garden City”. Augusta is Georgia’s second largest city and is located on the Savannah river and borders the state of South Carolina, when the Masters comes to town it puts the city on the world stage to see which golfer will reign victorious.
This year’s Masters has a wonderful back story of a person,Mr. Carl Jackson who has walked the course for 50 years and played a pivotal role in the career of golfer Ben Crenshaw. Mr. Jackson is a caddie that grow up peeking through the chain link fence of the Augusta Country club watching the happenings on the golf course. At the young age of 14, Mr. Jackson began a career as a caddie and was able to work at the Masters at the invitation of caddiemaster Freddie Bennett.
Since 1961, Mr. Jackson has worked on the “big course” and caddie the Masters tournament, he is easily the most recognized caddie in the game. In 1995, Mr. Jackson surpassed the late Willie Peterson, who spent 25 years as Jack Nicklaus‘ caddie (1959-83), with 34 trips, according to research by Golf Digest ‘s Ron Whitten. Mike Cowan, former caddie of Tiger Woods ,is a current caddie who has gained 27 trips to the Masters.
Mr. Jackson is humbled by the feat and has been planning for this milestone for a decade. Having such a wide margin between himself and the Mike Cowan means Mr. Jackson can rest assure it will be a record that will stand for years to come. Carrying the bag and walking the greens of the Augusta National has been Mr. Jackson’s calling card and it is with pride he carries this banner of longevity.
In the course of Mr. Jackson’s fifty years at the Masters, he has been with golf legend, Ben Crenshaw for thirty-five years and two Masters tournament wins (1984 and 1995). The two men were introduced to each other by Jack Stephens, a member of the Augusta National that saw the potential in Carl Jackson in his younger years. It was Jack Stephens at urging of President Dwight Eisenhower and others who help Mr. Jackson maintain his position as a caddie after dropping out of school to make money to help support his family. Jack Stephens convinced Mr. Jackson to get a GED so he could remain employed by the Augusta National. Mr. Jackson would later move to Little Rock, Arkansas and work as a caddie, caddiemaster and business manager for Jack Stephens and his family.
Larger than being the caddie of a great golfer Mr. Jackson is proud of the Augusta National Caddies (a group of black men) that he worked with from 1961-1983, during this time period no outside caddies were allowed to work at the tournament. Willie “Pappy” Stokes, Nathaniel “Ironman” Avery and Willie “Cemetery” Perteet, were apart of the Augusta National Caddies and have died. Stokes, who caddied for five Masters winners, was a mentor to Jackson.
Mr. Jackson is not only a history making caddie but he is a husband, father, brother and son but also a cancer survivor. In 2000, Mr. Jackson was diagnosed with colon cancer, with multiple tumors he was told he would need a costly operation. Giving up and not wanting to be a burden to his family, Mr. Jackson decided he would just let the cancer take its course. Mr. Jackson’s wife contacted Ben and Julie Crenshaw and let them know that her husband chose to not fight the cancer. The Crenshaw’s along with Jack Stephens convinced Mr. Jackson that he could have any needed treatment for his cancer and not to worry about the cost. The time Mr. Jackson was battling cancer was the only time he missed a Masters in fifty-three years.
The Masters golf tournament will not formally acknowledge the accomplishments of Mr. Carl Jackson. It is the belief of members of the Augusta National to focus on the game and not those playing or assisting with play. The laid back demeanor of Mr. Jackson will gain more from the crowds of fans who will show their support and celebration at each hole on the journey that he and Ben Crenshaw take as they seek to grab hold of the victory once more at the Masters.
BY THE NUMBERS:
14: Age Jackson caddied his first Masters Tournament
39: Number of consecutive Masters appearances
30: Cuts made by golfers Jackson caddied for at the Masters
34: Number of Masters Jackson has caddied for Ben Crenshaw
1: Masters Jackson has missed in the past 50 years
1961: Year Jackson Caddied his first Masters Tournament
2: Bags carried to Masters wins, both with Crenshaw.
To read more about the life and times of Mr. Carl Jackson check out http://www.augusta.com/stories/2011/04/01/mas_610932.shtml