1958 Masters: Arnold Palmer Becomes a Superstar

Arnold Palmer, left, young pro from Latrobe, Pa. is presented with the championship plaque by Bobby Jones, president of Augusta National Golf Club, at the 1958 Masters
Arnold Palmer (left) receives a plaque from Bobby Jones after winning the 1958 Masters Tournament. Bettman/Getty Images

There was a lot going on at the 1958 Masters, some of which has passed into golf lore. For example, the 1958 Masters is considered the place where "Arnie's Army" was born. Soldiers from a nearby military base were given free admission to Augusta National during the tournament, and they rallied behind the charismatic Arnold Palmer. They were referred to as "Arnie's Army," and that name became applied to all of Palmer's fans.

The 1958 Masters is where Palmer became the biggest star in golf. It was his first major championship victory, and the first of his eventual four wins at The Masters. Some propitious events through holes 11, 12 and 13 helped Palmer to the victory, and in his post-tournament article for Sports Illustrated, author Herbert Warren Wind coined the term "Amen Corner" for those holes.

So the 1958 Masters gave us the terms Arnie's Army and Amen Corner, was Palmer's first major championship, and propelled Palmer to superstardom.

It was also the site of a rules dispute between Palmer and playing partner Ken Venturi in the final round, a rules dispute that Venturi was still disputing decades later.

On the 12th hole, the par-3, Palmer's tee ball embedded in front of the green. Palmer felt he should get a free drop. Venturi and the rules official on the scene disagreed, requiring Palmer to play the ball as it lay. Palmer did, and made a double-bogey - which should have dropped him one stroke behind Venturi, with Venturi then leading.

But Palmer invoked Rule 3-3a, which states that when there is doubt as to how to proceed, the golfer can drop a second ball and complete the hole with two golf balls. Before turning in his scorecard, the golfer reports the situation to the committee, which issues its ruling, and then everyone knows which ball (and, therefore, which score) is counted.

So Palmer made a double-bogey with the original, embedded ball, then dropped a second ball and made a par. Which score counted? Was Palmer leading by one, or Venturi leading by one?

Palmer made an eagle on the following hole, the 13th, and then on the 15th hole Bobby Jones arrived to inform Palmer and Venturi that Palmer's second ball - the one he dropped and with which he made par - would count.

Venturi's beef with that ruling at the time rested in his claim that Palmer didn't announce his intention to play a second ball on the 12th until after making double-bogey with the first, embedded ball. If so, that should have rendered the second ball moot; the golfer must announce his intentions before taking another stroke when invoking Rule 3-3a.

Palmer claimed he did announce he would play a second ball before continuing with the first. It was he said-he said, and Palmer won. Nearly 40 years later, Venturi wrote in his memoir, "I firmly believe that (Palmer) did wrong and that he knows that I know he did wrong."

And Palmer has always maintained that he followed procedure correctly. Regardless, when Jones delivered the ruling on the 15th hole, it helped send Palmer to the victory. Venturi bogied holes 14 through 16 and finished two strokes behind, tied for fourth place.

1958 Masters Scores

Results from the 1958 Masters golf tournament played at the par-72 Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga. (a-amateur):

Arnold Palmer 70-73-68-73--284 $11,250
Doug Ford 74-71-70-70--285 $4,500
Fred Hawkins 71-75-68-71--285 $4,500
Stan Leonard 72-70-73-71--286 $1,968
Ken Venturi 68-72-74-72--286 $1,968
Cary Middlecoff 70-73-69-75--287 $1,518
Art Wall Jr. 71-72-70-74--287 $1,518
a-Billy Joe Patton 72-69-73-74--288
Claude Harmon 71-76-72-70--289 $1,265
Jay Hebert 72-73-73-71--289 $1,265
Billy Maxwell 71-70-72-76--289 $1,265
Al Mengert 73-71-69-76--289 $1,265
Sam Snead 72-71-68-79--290 $1,125
Jimmy Demaret 69-79-70-73--291 $1,050
Ben Hogan 72-77-69-73--291 $1,050
Mike Souchak 72-75-73-71--291 $1,050
Dow Finsterwald 72-71-74-75--292 $975
Chick Harbert 69-74-73-76--292 $975
Bo Wininger 69-73-71-79--292 $975
Billy Casper 76-71-72-74--293 $956
Byron Nelson 71-77-74-71--293 $956
a-Phil Rodgers 77-72-73-72--294
a-Charlie Coe 73-76-69-77--295
Ted Kroll 73-75-75-72--295 $900
Peter Thomson 72-74-73-76--295 $900
Al Balding 75-72-71-78--296 $900
Bruce Crampton 73-76-72-75--296 $900
a-Bill Hyndman 71-76-70-79--296
George Bayer 74-75-72-76--297 $350
a-Arnold Blum 72-74-75-76--297
a-Joe Campbell 73-75-74-75--297
Tommy Bolt 74-75-74-75--298 $350
Lionel Hebert 71-77-75-75--298 $350
Flory Van Donck 70-74-75-79--298 $350
Marty Furgol 74-73-75-77--299 $350
Dave Ragan 73-73-77-76--299 $350
Paul Runyan 73-76-73-77--299 $350
Jim Turnesa 72-76-76-75--299 $350
Julius Boros 73-72-78-77--300 $350
Jack Fleck 71-76-78-75--300 $350
Torakichi Nakamura 76-73-76-76--301 $350
Gene Littler 75-73-74-80--302 $350
Norman Von Nida 69-80-79-80--308 $350

1957 Masters | 1959 Masters