At 7:45 a.m. Thursday, three of the greatest golfers to ever play the Augusta National Golf Club blessed the Masters Tournament as Honorary Starters. The crowd was sent into a frenzy of audible adulation as it was graced with such fame, which got us at PolicyMic thinking — who are the others who bring fame and fortune to the golf course in Georgia?
Here are the top 10 famous members of Augusta National that you probably didn't know were members (unfortunately, it was harder than anticipated to find any pictures of these celebrities actually golfing, which brings into question how much use they're really getting out of those $10-30,000 annual memberships):
10. Former Georgia Senator Samuel Nunn
Senator Nunn starts off our list at number 10, partly because he served 24 years as a Democratic State Senator from Georgia (1972-1997) and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times in his life, and partly because if you say his middle name quickly enough it sounds like the golf course he has been a member of for decades.
9. Former CEO of General Electric Jack Welch
Our next celebrity member on the list is business tycoon Jack Welch. During Mr. Welch's time at GE, the company's value rose 4,000%, which left him with a comfortable little $720 million estimated personal net worth in 2006, a nice weight off the shoulders for those greens fees he's been paying.
8. Former NFL and USC Quarterback Pat Haden
This current athletic director at the University of Southern California was also a professional quarterback with the Los Angeles Rams from 1976 to 1981 and before at USC; he is a Rhodes Scholar and a practicing attorney at law too. He's even been known for his occasional work as a sportscaster for NBC Sports, making us wonder when he's really finding the time to get in a quick 18 holes.
7. Former CEO of American Express James D. Robinson III
Mr. Robinson acted as chief executive officer of American Express Co. from 1977 until his retirement in 1993 and has been director of the Coca-Cola Company since 1975. His estimated net worth is nowhere to be found on the internet, but you can probably make an educated guess.
6. Former CEO of IBM
IBM — ever heard of it? Palmisano lead the largest IT company in the world from 2002-2011, earning a $30.32 million a year compensation package and catapulting himself to #19 on Forbes' highest CEO compensation list.
5. Former CEO of Bank of America Hugh L. McColl Jr.
Continuing with our trend of noteworthy CEOs, Mr. McColl Jr. lead the merger of NationsBank and BankAmerica to create what is now internationally recognized as Bank of America. His financial position atop the bank that was given a $45 billion government bail out in 2008 because it was dubbed "too big to fail" should be indicative of his pocket change. And maybe of his golf game?
4. Chairman of MillerCoors Pete Coors
Every time I go out and play a round of golf with my friends, this man makes a little money when we finish our game at the clubhouse. The Colorado native became vice chairman and CEO of his Coors Brewing Company in 1993, and has since then amassed a yearly compensation of over $2,000,000. Plus, with the altitude difference between Colo., and Ga., I bet he swings a mean drive off the tee.
3. CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Warren Buffett
The most famous and successful investor in history, the 78-year-old Buffett holds the title as the third richest man in the world, with net worth of over $50 billion. Business is made on the golf course, right?
2. Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Finally one of these things is not like the other! Coming in at number two on our list is Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state under President George W. Bush from 2005-2009. More importantly for this particular list, however, is that she was (last year!) the first woman allowed membership to the Agusta National Club. Finally the club has a reason other than the LGPA tour to keep their ladies' tees up year-round.
1. Co-founder and Chairman of Microsoft Bill Gates
Business magnate, investor, programmer, inventor, philanthropist, and year-in and year-out ranked atop the wealthiest people in the world (sporting a modest net worth of over $67 billion), it is no wonder why Gates makes it to the top of our list, and no wonder why Augusta National is interested in keeping him a member. Though the Huffington Post claimed that the billionaire hung up his golf clubs in 2008, I'm sure Gates will remain one of the most advertised members of the internationally recognized course for quite some time.
So, whether they golf once a year or once a week, some of these members will probably be front and center at the Masters this week. Keep your eyes peeled.