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Gainesville's Tommy Aaron honored during celebration at Chattahoochee to mark 50 years since winning 1973 Masters
Gainesville's Tommy Aaron chats with supporters during the 50-year celebration of his victory at the 1973 Masters at the Chattahoochee Golf Club Grill on March 28, 2023. Photo by Bill Murphy

Tuesday’s celebration was a night that Gainesville’s Tommy Aaron said he’ll never forget. 

Starting in the early evening, supporters gathered to commemorate it being 50 years since his thrilling come-from-behind win at the 1973 Masters. 

The 86-year-old was able to share many laughs and relive countless stories over drinks with those who are closest to him, some who actually attended the Masters that Aaron won. 

Then, Aaron was able to show his witty humor and pinpoint ability to remember pivotal moments of his humble golf beginnings on the former nine-hole course, which is where Longwood Park now stands. 

There were also several re-recorded video messages, including one from his longtime friend and six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus, that were shown to the approximately 100-200 people in attendance for the festivities at the Chattahoochee Golf Club Grill. 

Aaron also received video messages of support from Billy Payne, the former chairman of Augusta National, along with another from Governor Brian Kemp. 

Once his time at the microphone came to a close, Aaron made it abundantly clear that the kind gestures were profoundly appreciated.

“This has been a special night that will remain way up there in my memory bank,” Aaron said. 

To mark Tommy Aaron Day, a state resolution was passed, spearheaded by State Representative Matt Dubnik, of Gainesville. 

Gainesville City School board member Sammy Smith also spoke and revealed its own proclamation to honor Aaron, along with naming the space for the golf program in the Student Activities Center at Gainesville High the Tommy Aaron Golf Suite. 

Also, the Chattahoochee Golf Club Grille will start its own Tommy Aaron memorabilia wall, which was started with an autographed picture from the 1973 green jacket ceremony with Aaron and Nicklaus. 

As for his golf career, Aaron made it clear getting to the top was no easy ride. 

Back then, there was not big money on the table. 

“People didn’t hesitate to tell me I was wasting my time playing golf,” Aaron said. 

However, Aaron started to cobble together a career in the early 1960s and slowly accumulated decent checks for finishing high at events. 

That was the catalyst he needed to keep going. 

Then in 1973, it all came together. 

On his final round, Aaron shot a marvelous 4-under-par 68, the same score as his opening round, to win by one stroke against JC Snead, who missed a potential birdie putt to tie it on No. 18 that would have forced an 18-hole playoff the following day. 

For his career, Aaron racked up four Top-10 finishes at The Masters before winning it all. 

Aaron was also the oldest player to ever make the weekend cut at the Masters when he did so as a 63-year-old in 2000. 

His highest other finish at a major was when Aaron tied for second at the 1972 PGA Championship. 

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