- In 2012, a man named Clayton Baker was arrested for taking sand from Augusta National Golf Course during the Masters.
- The man was handcuffed, arrested, and sent to jail, beginning what became an emotional and financial toll that cost him about $US20,000.
- Don’t break the rules at Augusta National.
- Read all of Business Insider’s Masters coverage here.
- Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.
Augusta National Golf Course, home of the Masters, is known for its strict rules, and it is costly to break them.
No one knows that better than Clayton Baker, a Texas man who, in 2012, tried to steal the pristine sand from Augusta National, only to have it majorly impact his life.
Steve Politi of NJ.com caught up with Baker ahead of the 2019 Masters, and Baker described how the incident cost him dearly and left him “seriously depressed for weeks.”
In 2012, Baker and several friends were flown on a private jet to the Masters, “an act of kindness from a wealthy friend” because Baker had gotten sick the previous fall. (Baker told Politi he had thought it was MS, but it later turned out to Lyme disease).
On the 10th fairway, Baker decided he wanted some of the sand from Augusta as a piece of memorabilia. Baker slid under some ropes, collected some with a beer cup, then went back under the ropes. According to Baker, he was immediately surrounded by three security guards who knocked the cup out of his hand, threw him to the ground, and handcuffed him. He was tested for his blood-alcohol level, then taken to the county jail.
Baker was actually put in a cell, had his possessions taken from him, and had his mugshot taken. He eventually posted a $US285 bond and was released.
According to Politi, some national outlets covered the incident including ESPN, The Golf Channel, Golf Digest, and more, all of them including his mugshot.
According to Baker, when he got home, the story followed him for weeks. He had to explain the story to those who knew him, including a middle school basketball team he coached. He said a stranger at a golf tournament he was participating in walked up to him with a bag of sand and said, “Here you go!”
“I was seriously depressed for weeks.”
Furthermore, there was a financial toll. Baker had to hire lawyers to defend him, pay the cost for the time the private jet waited for him while he was in jail, and he lost a $US4,500 security deposit on his Masters badge. In total, he estimated it cost him around $US20,000.
Baker told Politi that Augusta and the local police department made an example out of him, calling them “bullies.”
“I did something I shouldn’t have done and it cost me $US20,000 and a lot of public shame,” he told Politi. “That seems like a lot for a handful of sand.
“They made an example out of me. I understand that. I regret that. But the way they handled it? That place is a bunch of bullies.”
Captain Scott Gay of the county sheriff’s department told Politi: “I certainly do not want anyone punished more than they deserve to be. But when people are here, they need to understand the traditions of Augusta and the Augusta National golf course.”
The charges against Baker were eventually dropped.
“He had suffered enough, everyone in the courtroom seemed to agree,” Politi wrote.
- Read more Masters:
- The Masters has insanely strict rules – here are the things they can throw you out for doing
- 12 long shots who can win the Masters
- Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, and 12 others with the best odds to win the Masters
- Food and beer at the Masters is incredibly cheap
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