How The Masters Theme Song Came To Be: An Interview With The Third Cousin Of Kenny Loggins

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On the 14th hole at Augusta, with the breeze blowing through the trees, musician Dave Loggins had his inspiration. It was April 1981, his first trip to the Masters. His friend Ken Chance, an attorney, had scored passes, and they were walking the course. They paused at 14, and lyrics popped into Loggins’ head.

Three decades later, recalling the moment, Loggins starts singing to me:

“Oh, Augusta, your dogwoods and pines / They play on my mind like a song.”

This wasn’t some amateur, daydreaming. Loggins has penned a long list of country hits, for artists like Reba McIntire and Kenny Rogers. In 1974, he reached No. 5 on the Billboard chart with “Please Come to Boston,” which he wrote and performed. (It’s been covered ad nauseam since, by artists up to and including Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds.)


And Chance was close with Frank Chirkinian, the CBS golf producer. That night, he introduced the two. Loggins asked if Chirkinian was interested in a piece of music to accompany the Masters broadcast. Chirkinian said he was.

“Well, you just found it,” Loggins said, “because I think I can do this.”

Three decades later, CBS is still using “Augusta” to arouse white men across the nation. Loggins’s tinkling tribute, which features acoustic guitar, keyboard, bass, a string quartet, and a click track instead of actual drums, inspires a special kind of joy in golf heads. Writing in Golf Digest in 2007, Ron Kaspriske called fans’ response to the theme “Pavlovian.”


Loggins knew exactly what it would take to get people drooling. After a bit of research, he wrote lyrics that included some of the tournament’s great players. (He later added references to Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.) The result was pure, lilting crackerism:

Well, it’s springtime in the valley on Magnolia Lane
It’s the Augusta National and the master of the game
Who’ll wear that green coat on Sunday afternoon?
Who’ll walk the 18th fairway singing this tune?
Augusta, your dogwoods and pines
They play on my mind like a song
Augusta, it’s you that I love
And it’s you that I’ll miss when I’m gone.
It’s Watson, Byron Nelson, Demaret, Player and Snead

It’s Amen Corner and it’s Hogan’s perfect swing
It’s Sarazen’s double eagle at the 15 in ‘35
And the spirit of Clifford Roberts that keeps it alive
Augusta, your dogwoods and pines
They play on my mind like a song
Augusta, it’s you that I love
And it’s you that I miss when I’m gone.
It’s the legions of Arnie’s Army and the Golden Bear’s throngs
And the wooden-shafted legend of Bobby Jones.

The track was recorded at Bennett House, a Victorian mansion in Franklin, Tenn. Loggins played guitar on the song, but other musicians—including Norbert Putnam, who at one point was Elvis Presley’s bassist—also contributed. “It had to flow, sort of like the mounds on the greens,” Loggins says. “Capturing that mood was the hardest thing we had to do.”

The track wasn’t totally finished until the week of the 1982 Masters. On Wednesday, Loggins flew to Georgia. The next day, he was able to watch the opening round of the tournament from the broadcast truck. Apparently, Chirkinian liked “Augusta.” After hearing the final version, he put his arm around Loggins and said, “Son, you did real well.”


“I left the trailer and jumped up and down,” Loggins says.

Thursday night, on the tournament wrapup show, CBS introduced viewers to the song. “Ladies and gentleman,” uber-broadcaster Curt Gowdy said, “the genius of Dave Loggins.”


That kind of compliment, Loggins says, was better than any monetary reward—of which there wasn’t much, at least initially. (CBS covered recording costs.) The theme’s ubiquity is more meaningful to him than the royalty checks he still receives. “Dear God,” he says. “This thing is all over the planet.”

Every year around this time, Loggins, 64, gets a handful of media inquiries about his song. He’s actually the second member of his family to score a golf-related hit. “I’m Alright” by Kenny Loggins, his infinitely less-cool third cousin, was the theme song of Caddyshack. “As much as I love Kenny,” the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer says, “I don’t think I would trade.”


Alan Siegel is a writer in Washington, D.C. Contact him at; follow him on Twitter @alansiegeldc.