AUGUSTA, Ga. — Dave Loggins hasn’t stepped a foot on Augusta National in decades, but like countless golf fans, he remembers enjoying a little slice of sports heaven during his first time on the course.
Unlike most golf fans, the now 71-year-old had the songwriting chops to soak in that moment in 1981, write down some music and lyrics and then create one of the most beloved theme songs in sports history.
It’s called “Augusta” and over nearly four decades it’s become ingrained in the CBS Masters broadcast. For many fans, the easy-flowing guitar and piano is one of the signals of spring. It’s been a staple since 1982, when it aired the first time.
Loggins said his moment of inspiration hit him while walking along the 14th fairway with a friend.
“I stopped for a minute, looked up at the pine trees and the wind down there was just different in some regards,” Loggins said in a phone interview. “Spiritually it was different. That course was just a piece of art. I looked over at some dogwoods and, man, I just started writing the song in my head which is what I do when I get inspired.
“I had the first verse before I even got off the course.”
The friend Loggins was with at Augusta National in 1981 was an attorney who knew former CBS golf producer Frank Chirkinian. Loggins was introduced and asked Chirkinian if he’d ever considered trying to find a theme song to enhance the coverage of the Masters.
“He said they were trying to find one,” Loggins said. “I said ‘Well, I’m the person to write it.’
Then he chuckled: “You know with those guys you’ve got to tell them you’re the best in the world to get their attention.”
And Loggins delivered. He worked up a demo and Chirkinian was intrigued.
Then he recorded the song in Nashville with a band — including a 12-piece string ensemble — writing a second verse that included references to several of the Masters past champions, including Byron Nelson, Gary Player and Ben Hogan. Loggins plays guitar and sings the vocals.
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The version that plays today is almost always just an instrumental without the words, but he brought the full version with lyrics to Augusta in 1982 and went to Chirkinian’s office.
“He said ‘You got something?‘” Loggins said. “I said ‘Yeah, I think I’ve got it.’ He put it on and listened to it and was slightly stunned that it was that good. He played it again and then looked at me and said ’You did good, son. You did real good.”
“Coming from him, the head of CBS sports? That was great.”
Nearly four decades later, it’s still in the heads of sports fans.
Lance Burrow, the current CBS coordinating producer of golf, said he’ll get requests out of nowhere, even from people he doesn’t know, asking if they can get a copy of “Augusta” so they can listen to it and dream of spring and the Masters.
Burrow, who is at his 43rd Masters, compared it to another iconic CBS sports song — college basketball’s “One Shining Moment” — because of its ability to connect with the average fan.
“When you hear both those songs, you know something special is happening,” Burrow said.
Loggins was no stranger to singing and songwriting even before “Augusta” caught the ear of Chirkinian. He was prolific during the 1970s and his biggest song was in 1974, when he wrote “Please Come to Boston,” which peaked at No. 5 in the United States. He’s also in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
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His third cousin Kenny Loggins is the more well-known musician in the family. His solo career included huge 1980s hits like “I’m Alright,” ″Footloose” and “Danger Zone.”
But Dave Loggins has carved out some unexpected golf and music history with his long-running theme song. He said despite the song’s popularity, he’s never been able to make much money off it. He initially received $3,000 to cover the costs and now gets some writing royalties.
Loggins said he hasn’t been back to the Masters since the late 1980s and was last in Augusta in 1996. But he still makes sure he watches the Masters every year and his family gets a kick out of the fact it’s become such an iconic golf song.
“We thought they’d air it just one year,” Loggins said laughing. “Now it’s been 38 years. Amazing.”