News 12 at 6 o'clock / Friday, April 11, 2014
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- This year is the Masters 80th anniversary, but one patron is celebrating an anniversary that's not far behind. Hunter Gammon has been coming to the Masters for 61 years.
The only thing left he wants to do is become an honorary citizen of Augusta. Friday, his wish came true, and News 12's Christie Ethridge helped make it happen.
It was a special moment under the leaderboard Friday as the mayor made the official, and surprising, announcement that truly made Augusta Mr. Gammon's home away from home.
It's a tradition that is almost as long as the tournament itself. Mr. Gammon has been coming to the course for decades.
"This is 61. My first one was 1954," Gammon said.
For one week every year he makes Augusta his home, staying in the same room of the same hotel. In a place that's all about history and making moments, Gammon has lived it and created memories he'll never forget.
"Probably Jack Nicklaus winning his last one," he remembered.
When we caught up with him last year, there was only one thing left he hadn't experienced in our town.
"I was suggesting that maybe I should get a citizenship now. I've been coming here, this is 61 years," he said.
Friday, we made it official.
"I'm glad you love our city, but now you are hereby officially an honorary citizen of Augusta," announced Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver.
"Thank you sir, thank you sir!" Mr. Gammon replied.
Every year brings a new memory, and at 90 years old, Gammon says this one tops them all.
"This will be number one, probably for the whole 61 years but certainly for this year. That's for sure," he smiled.
A piece of Augusta that's always been in his heart, is now in his hands.
"Oh I just can't believe it. I just can't believe it. I can't wait to get back home now and get on the phone," he said.
As he walks around his 61st year, watching all the golfers compete to win, Gammon says he's already won.
"Augusta's newest citizen!" welcomed Mayor Copenhaver.
It's not a green jacket, but it is like a green card to keep visiting the city he loves year after year.
Walking around this course inspired him to build his own back in his hometown of Reidsville, North Carolina. He says his wife even turned pro.
When we asked which golfer he was pulling for this year, he said as an old timer himself, he's pulling for an old timer, and would love to see Phil Mickelson win the green jacket.