Ten years after Wind’s death, the players in this year’s field know the holes that form Amen Corner, but few can identify the man behind the moniker. Crenshaw is one. Another is Phil Mickelson, who learned four years after winning the first of his three Masters titles in 2004 that Amen Corner was not Arnold Palmer’s invention. An informal poll of two dozen players resulted in 23 blank looks and one confident answer of Hogan.
Hogan was not a bad guess. The bridge used by the players to cross Rae’s Creek to the par-3 12th green is named after Hogan, who won two Masters.
Palmer was another good assumption. His final-round eagle on No. 13 in 1958 helped him secure the first of his four Masters titles and inspired Wind to conjure a special name for the critical juncture in that year’s tournament in an article in Sports Illustrated.
The widely held belief is that Amen Corner has sacred roots. It made sense to the Australian Jason Day, who said, “You pray to get around it without running into disaster.” Day’s countryman Adam Scott, the 2013 champion, chipped in, “Otherwise it can be the Blasphemous Corner.”
Wind’s inspiration, though, came from a 1930s jazz recording, “Shouting in the Amen Corner.” In an article for Golf Digest in 1984, he said that he was aiming for “some colorful tag like those that Grantland Rice and his contemporaries loved to devise: the Four Horsemen, the Manassa Mauler, the House That Ruth Built and the Georgia Peach.”
“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,” Wind wrote.
He used “Amen Corner” all of six times in the next 31 years, according to an online search of The New Yorker’s archives. Wind’s nephew, Bill Scheft, a staff writer on “Late Show With David Letterman,” was not surprised.
“Herb was like a comic who comes up with a bit and delivers it to an audience once,” Scheft said. “It was nothing he was going to repeat because he was always striving for better bits.”
Wind was once approached by two young writers asking about the origins of Amen Corner.
“I found it exceedingly awkward to tell them that I thought that I had given that famous stretch of course its appellation,” he wrote in Golf Digest.