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 Palmer70-73-68-73--284$11,250
Doug Ford74-71-70-70--285$4,500
Fred Hawkins71-75-68-71--285$4,500
Stan Leonard72-70-73-71--286$1,968
Ken Venturi68-72-74-72--286$1,968
Cary Middlecoff70-73-69-75--287$1,518
Art Wall Jr.71-72-70-74--287$1,518
a-Billy Joe Patton72-69-73-74--288 
Claude Harmon71-76-72-70--289$1,265
Jay Hebert72-73-73-71--289$1,265
Billy Maxwell71-70-72-76--289$1,265
Al Mengert73-71-69-76--289$1,265
Sam Snead72-71-68-79--290$1,125
Jimmy Demaret69-79-70-73--291$1,050
Ben Hogan72-77-69-73--291$1,050
Mike Souchak72-75-73-71--291$1,050
Dow Finsterwald72-71-74-75--292$975
Chick Harbert69-74-73-76--292$975
Bo Wininger69-73-71-79--292$975
Billy Casper76-71-72-74--293$956
Byron Nelson71-77-74-71--293$956
a-Phil Rodgers77-72-73-72--294 
a-Charlie Coe73-76-69-77--295 
Ted Kroll73-75-75-72--295$900
Peter Thomson72-74-73-76--295$900
Al Balding75-72-71-78--296$900
Bruce Crampton73-76-72-75--296$900
a-Bill Hyndman71-76-70-79--296 
George Bayer74-75-72-76--297$350
a-Arnold Blum72-74-75-76--297 
a-Joe Campbell73-75-74-75--297 
Tommy Bolt74-75-74-75--298$350
Lionel Hebert71-77-75-75--298$350
Flory Van Donck70-74-75-79--298$350
Marty Furgol74-73-75-77--299$350
Dave Ragan73-73-77-76--299$350
Paul Runyan73-76-73-77--299$350
Jim Turnesa72-76-76-75--299$350
Julius Boros73-72-78-77--300$350
Jack Fleck71-76-78-75--300$350
Torakichi Nakamura76-73-76-76--301$350
Gene Littler75-73-74-80--302$350
Norman Von Nida69-80-79-80--308$350

1957 Masters | 1959 Masters