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Serendipity leads to discovery of hundreds of incredible never-before-seen Masters photos

April 11, 2020

EDITORS' NOTE: This photo essay was originally published on April 9, 2019.

Golf Digest has been around for nearly 70 years, and during that time we’ve amassed a substantial library of photographs, books and golf memorabilia—all carefully indexed. Or so we thought. Late last year, our offices moved to a different floor at our headquarters in New York City, and while packing up, we found an unmarked box of black-and-white 35mm film negatives. Among them were nearly 1,000 images of the Masters dating from the late 1950s through the early 1970s. After some investigating, we discovered that these pictures were taken by the magazine’s earliest editors, including co-founder Howard Gill and Managing Editor John May, who routinely doubled as photographers and reporters at tour events.

The 47 images here have likely never been published, and they reveal golf stars and galleries of the Madman Age. Palmer, Nicklaus and Player are impossibly youthful and just beginning their dominance. Snead and Hogan are still competitive. There are no corporate logos on the shirts. Augusta National looks scruffier. We see the first glimpses of the Merry Mex, Lee Trevino, a precocious young pro in Lanny Wadkins and the rakish ladies’ man Raymond Floyd. This collection of lost-and-found images bring back the memories of heroes and heroics not to be forgotten.

Arnold Palmer talks to reporters after winning the 1960 Masters.

Gary Player at the 1957 Masters, the first of a record 52 that he played.

The leader boards and scoring were a nascent art in 1962.

Sam Snead, on Augusta National’s 18th tee in the early 1960s.

Patrons gather next to the 18th fairway during the 1959 Masters.

Five-time British Open champion Peter Thomson of Australia would often compete in the Masters in the morning and file a tournament report in the afternoon.

Jack Nicklaus signs autographs near the 18th green during the 1968 Masters.

Sixty years ago, Augusta National was a little rougher around the edges.

Water came up to the edge of the 12th green, and there weren’t even flowers on the slope.

Sam Snead, at the 1957 Masters, entertains reporters with stories.

Ben Hogan finished tied for sixth at the 1960 Masters.

Arnold Palmer, here on No. 18, finished third in the 1959 Masters.

Arnold Palmer is swarmed by patrons after winning the 1960 Masters.

Arnold Palmer’s wife, Winnie, is interviewed by reporters.

The head of the USGA, Joe Dey, oversees a ball drop during the 1963 Masters.

Jack Burke Jr. shares a kiss with his wife after his victory in the 1956 Masters.

Lee Trevino played in his first Masters in 1968 and finished 40th.

Masters galleries of the 1960s resembled the aunts and uncles of bygone holiday dinners.

Gene Sarazen competes in the 1969 Masters. He won it in 1935.

In the 1960s, caddies shagged balls for their players during range sessions.

Sam Snead and his caddie in the early 1960s.

Arnold Palmer exuded coolness on the course.

A view of the par-5 15th hole during the 1958 Masters.

Augusta National co-founder Clifford Roberts takes 1960 runner-up Ken Venturi to meet with reporters.

Bobby Jones takes Arnold Palmer to meet with reporters after Palmer won in 1960.

Sam Snead chats with another player in the early 1960s.

Jimmy Demaret, pictured here in 1962, won the Masters three times.

Television sports journalist Jim McKay during the 1960 Masters.

Golf Digest Managing Editor John May (far left) was equally facile at writing instruction articles and shooting tournament photography.

Dick Mayer, here at the 1963 Masters, had one major victory, the 1957 U.S. Open.

Arnold Palmer talks to legendary golf writer Bob Drum during the 1963 Masters.

Chi Chi Rodriguez entertained crowds by tossing his hat over the hole so a birdie wouldn’t fly away.

Jack Nicklaus competes in the 1969 Masters.

Caddies in white overalls covered their players rain or shine.

Golf Digest co-founder Howard Gill (right).

Arnold Palmer’s father, Deacon (left), and wife, Winnie, at the 1960 Masters.

Lanny Wadkins competes in the 1972 Masters.

Ray Floyd finished T-7 at the 1968 Masters.

Sam Snead putts side saddle during the 1972 Masters.

A view of Augusta National’s 18th fairway in 1956.

Jack Nicklaus, with Doc Giffin taking notes next to him, meets with the press after his victory in 1965.