Caddie Jackson, an iconic figure at the Masters

Sat Apr 4, 2015 10:04am EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

(Reuters) - Carl Jackson has a lifetime of memories from Augusta National where he has caddied in every Masters since 1961 bar one, and is one of the remaining few in a dying breed -- black caddies who have worked at the iconic venue.

For regular visitors to the Masters, Jackson has become an integral part of the tournament fabric and is best known for his remarkable 39-year partnership with fellow American Ben Crenshaw, a twice former champion at Augusta National.

"In a sense, golf raised me," Jackson told Reuters alongside the fairway of the opening hole at last year's Masters.

"I had to drop out of school at the age of 14 and I caused some problems at first trying to work over here but we got it all worked out. It was a nice job for me to have and I fully appreciate it, for myself and for the communities around."

Jackson grew up in Sand Hill, a predominantly African-American community situated less than a mile from Augusta National. Economic circumstances forced him to abandon school and start working as a caddie.

"It was a pretty dire situation for us," said Jackson. "My mother had eight kids so it was time for me to quit (school) and time to not have us worry about being evicted because there was not enough money.

"I didn't want my mother having those pressures on her. I am glad that Augusta National was here. It was a good place for me to earn money."

Jackson was hired in 1961 as a full-time caddie by club member Jack Stephens, who served as Augusta National's chairman from 1991-1998. Jackson worked at his first Masters that same year as bagman for Billy Burke.   Continued...

Caddie Carl Jackson carries the golf bag of former champion Ben Crenshaw along the second fairway during first round play in the 2011 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, April 7, 2011. REUTERS/Shaun Best