Longtime Augusta National caddie Jariah Beard, who caddied for Fuzzy Zoeller when he won the 1979 Masters, died on Friday morning, according to his longtime friend Leon Maben in Augusta. Beard was 82.
Zoeller remains the most recent first-time participant to win the Masters (only Horton Smith in first tournament, 1934, and Gene Sarazen in 1935 were other rookie winners). Zoeller famously gave Beard the keys to dictate yardage, clubbing and reading greens.
“He called all the shots,” Zoeller said in a phone interview with Golfweek. “He led me around like I was a blind man. Before I even got to the green, he’d tell me how the putts were breaking. He was a huge plus.”
Beard was born in the Augusta area in 1941. For decades, Beard served as the unofficial historian for Augusta National caddies.
“Beard could recall given names for caddie nicknames and family members or recite the influence caddies had on winning players’ games,” wrote Ward Clayton, author of “Men on the Bag.” “He was emotional about his path and the plight of his brethren. After all, he took the usual route to the caddie yards at Augusta National: raised in the Sand Hills section of Augusta, apprentice caddie at Augusta Country Club at age eleven, ‘graduation’ to Augusta National a few years later and then a steady job in the Masters over nearly 25 years for a variety of players.”
Beard also caddied for Bob Toski and Don January prior to Zoeller, who said Beard caddied for him for two years back when contestants had to use a local caddie.
“Jariah was a very special person not only to me but to his family and so many people,” said Zoeller, who learned that Beard was in hospice and reached out to let him before his death to let him know “how much I enjoyed our times together.”
Beard succumbed to cancer one month before the 2023 Masters.