Augusta National Golf Club

Unique Membership at the Legendary Augusta National Golf Club

The Augusta National Golf Club, in Augusta, Georgia, is one of the most exclusive and prestigious golf clubs in the world. Augusta National was founded in 1932 by legendary golfer Bobby Jones and investment banker Clifford Roberts. It is best known for hosting the Masters Tournament every year since 1934.

Augusta National, with its pristine fairways, strategic layout, and iconic Amen Corner, provides a supreme shotmaking challenge for the world’s best golfers each April during The Masters. Beyond the club’s gates, Augusta National maintains a high level of privacy, exclusivity, and mystery surrounding its membership. So, how exclusive is membership at the private Augusta National Golf Club?

Membership Cap and Invitation Process

In recent years, Augusta National has kept its membership at 300. The club did not reach its 300-member limit until 2012, 80 years after its founding. Prior to 2012, membership remained between 270 and 290 for several decades. The 300-member cap ensures exclusivity while also allowing new members to fill vacancies when existing members die.

Membership at Augusta National is strictly by invitation only. Membership candidates do not apply or lobby to join the club. Unsolicited requests for membership are politely declined or ignored. To become a member, you must first receive an invitation to join from the membership committee, which is then reviewed and elected by the entire membership.

The invitation process for prospective new members remains highly confidential. Those who receive membership invitations rarely, if ever, publicly acknowledge them before the election. This secrecy and exclusivity contribute to the allure of Augusta National membership.

Membership Demographics and Profiles

Augusta National’s membership demographics and profile reflect its reputation as an elite, highly exclusive club. More than 99 percent of members are men. Women were barred from joining the club for its first 80 years, until former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and business executive Darla Moore became the first female members in 2012.

While membership was previously limited to white Americans, the club now has a small number of international and minority members. Welshman Ian Woosnam and South African Gary Player, both Masters champions, are among the most notable international players.

Members of Augusta National have extensive backgrounds in business, finance, law, medicine, sports, government, and the military. Members have included Fortune 500 CEOs, prominent surgeons, four-star generals and admirals, US presidents, senators, Supreme Court justices, Nobel laureates, and other eminent leaders.

Wealth is another common trait, as joining Augusta National costs $40,000, with annual dues having risen to $10,000 by 2014. Wealthy executives, investors, entrepreneurs, and heirs make up the membership. While wealth does not guarantee membership, it is considered a virtual prerequisite under modern membership criteria.

Disputes Over Membership Policies

Augusta National’s restrictive membership policies have sparked debate and criticism throughout its history. As perhaps the most visible all-male club, Augusta faced decades of pressure from women’s rights activists before admitting its first female members in 2012.

The club’s exclusive all-white membership lasted even longer, with the first African American member joining in 1990. While the club’s membership has diversified in recent years, its long history of exclusionary policies has harmed Augusta National’s reputation.

Even today, critics argue that, while the membership includes prominent, accomplished leaders from various sectors, it primarily functions as an old boys’ club of mostly older white men of wealth and privilege. Supporters argue that the membership does include prominent leaders in a variety of fields, including pioneering minorities and, more recently, female barrier breakers such as Rice and Moore.

Notable Current and Former Members

Many prominent figures in business, sports, and public service have been Augusta National members over the years. These notable members, both living and deceased, contribute to the Georgia golf club’s reputation for exclusivity.

Some notable current and former members include:

Business Leaders

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and long-time world’s richest person.

Warren Buffett: Legendary investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO, often ranked second richest after Gates.

Jack Welch: Former longtime General Electric CEO and renowned management guru

Sports Figures

Arnold Palmer was one of golf’s “Big 3” in the 1960s, along with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.

Jack Nicklaus is golf’s all-time majors champion, with 18 wins, including six Masters victories.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, a former US President and decorated military commander, was an avid golfer.

Public Officials

Sandra Day O’Connor was the United States Supreme Court’s first female justice, appointed in 1990.

William Cohen, former Secretary of Defense under President Clinton

George Shultz, former Secretary of State and Treasury Secretary under President Reagan.

Augusta National’s membership clearly represents an elite cross-section of American leaders from the past century. Prospects for future membership are likely to come from similar high-profile backgrounds, carrying on the club’s exclusive traditions.

Secrecy regarding the membership roster and process

While Augusta National’s membership includes many well-known and accomplished leaders, the complete list of current and former members is not made public. Neither has the secretive process of nominating and vetting potential new members ever been revealed.

This secrecy only adds to the club’s reputation as perhaps the most exclusive in the United States. Augusta National’s privacy, both during the Masters tournament and year-round activities, has always been appealing to its prominent members.

Augusta leadership has consistently refused to confirm or comment publicly on new member invitations or inductions. Members also avoid publicly discussing membership issues out of respect for the club’s privacy traditions.

This secrecy, combined with the strict invitation-only policy, has sparked intense interest among fans and media about Augusta National’s exclusivity and who may be considered for membership. Media speculation about future members has included CEOs, star athletes, former presidents, and billionaires.

However, unless those speculated members receive and accept invitations from Augusta National, the world will not know for certain until they first appear in a green member jacket at the club’s gates.

Future Member Dynamics at Augusta National

The strict 300 membership cap suggests that openings for new members in future years will be extremely limited as long as the policy remains in place. The cap, combined with very few members ever resigning voluntarily, will limit annual membership turnover to only a few new inductions per year, if any.

The scarcity of new member opportunities is expected to keep the aura of exclusivity at Augusta National indefinitely. For nearly a century, the club has used exclusivity and privacy to keep the public and media interested in its members.

Except for relaxing or removing the membership cap, there is no indication that Augusta wants to make any changes to improve accessibility or transparency around the member experience. If anything, the traditions of secrecy and exclusivity are expected to strengthen even more in the coming decades.

The infrequent opportunities will only increase curiosity and backlash for each new prominent leader who receives the coveted green jacket. Those who were denied membership will face increased scrutiny and skepticism about why they missed out on one of the world’s most exclusive clubs.


Over the course of its 90-year history, the Augusta National Golf Club has developed a membership process and culture that is heavily focused on exclusivity. Augusta’s strict invitation-only policy, which focuses on prominent leaders in business, politics, sports, and other fields, has made it one of the most difficult clubs to join on the planet.

The secrecy surrounding its member policies and roster adds to the intrigue and controversy surrounding who is allowed to compete on The Masters’ famed home course. With membership now limited to 300 leading figures, Augusta National appears destined to maintain its reputation as arguably. The world’s most exclusive golf club for decades to come.

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