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Why is 'Amen Corner' Called That, and Who Came Up with the Name?

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Amen Corner sign at Augusta National

What is the origin of 'Amen Corner' as the name for Augusta National's 11th, 12th and 13th holes? It dates to the 1958 Masters.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Question: Why is 'Amen Corner' Called That, and Who Came Up with the Name?

Amen Corner is a famous part of Augusta National Golf Club. But why is it called that, and who came up with the name?

Answer: "Amen Corner" was so christened following the 1958 Masters by writer Herbert Warren Wind in an article in Sports Illustrated. That was the Masters where Arnold Palmer earned his first major championship with the help of a ruling that, even decades later, Ken Venturi was still challenging.

Wind gave the monicker "Amen Corner" to holes 11, 12 and 13 because of the spectacular way in which Palmer played those holes on the final day of the 1958 tournament.

After a rainy evening the night before, the tournament adopted a local rule for the final round to cover embedded balls. A golfer whose ball embedded could, under the newly adopted rule, lift and drop it without penalty.

And wouldn't you know it, that rule came up during the final round, and in relation to one of the leaders. On No. 12, Palmer's ball flew the green and embedded in the bank behind it. But the official on the hole was confused about the local rule, and told Palmer he had to play the ball as it lie.

So Palmer hacked the ball out of its embedded position and scored a double-bogey 5. Then, disputing the official's ruling, he dropped a second ball near the original embedded position and scored a 3 with the second ball. Venturi always claimed that Palmer failed to announce before playing the original ball his intention to drop a second ball. Palmer claimed (and claims) he did announce that intention.

Regardless, the Masters website relates, Palmer and Venturi then continued playing while the rules committee pondered the situation:

"The committee was asked to decide if the local rule was applicable and if so, which score should count.

"At No. 13, still unsure of what his score was at 12, Palmer sank an 18-foot putt for eagle 3. When he was playing No. 15, Palmer was told his drop at 12 was proper and that his score on the hole was 3, leading to his first major victory."

Wind's Sports Illustrated article describing the tournament, and the events in that part of the golf course, begins this way:

"On the afternoon before the start of the recent Masters golf tournament, a wonderfully evocative ceremony took place at the farthest reach of the Augusta National course—down in the Amen Corner where Rae's Creek intersects the 13th fairway near the tee, then parallels the front edge of the green on the short 12th and finally swirls alongside the 11th green."

And ever since, golfers and golf fans have called Augusta National's 11th, 12th and 13th holes "Amen Corner." (Actually, Wind defined Amen Corner as the shot into the 11th green, the full 12th hole, and the tee shot on No. 13, but over time the full three-hole stretch of 11, 12 and 13 has come to bear the name.)

But how did Wind come up with that name? What was his inspiration? In 1984 Wind wrote an explanation for Golf Digest. In that article, Wind wrote:

"With plenty of time to think out the article, I felt that I should try to come up with some appropriate name for that far corner of the course where the critical action had taken place ... The only phrase with the word 'corner' I could think of (outside of football's 'coffin corner' and baseball's 'hot corner') was the title of a song on an old Bluebird record."

The song that came to Wind's mind was called "Shoutin' in that Amen Corner," and so "Amen Corner" is the turn of phrase he used to describe the part of Augusta National about which he was writing.

(And how did the writer of that jazz song come up with "Amen Corner"? That answer here.)

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