(top row l to r): Golf courses are beautiful, but this one is exceptional; Nice photo of Danny Lee of New Zealand playing his second shot on the fifth hole during the second round of the 2016 Masters (second row l to r): In 1934 Horton Smith won the very first Masters; Arnold Palmer used to say “Drive for show, putt for dough.” Amen; Jack Nicklaus has the most Master’s wins at six; Gary Player rounds out the top three greatest of their era with Palmer and Nicklaus (third row l to r): Tiger Woods is tied with Arnie at four Masters wins and tied with Nick Faldo and Jack Nicklaus as having the only back to back Masters wins; The Masters flag; the Masters trophy (fourth row l to r): Don’t know who’s lining up his putt here but it sure shows the intensity of play at the Masters; I’m on the far right of this motley crew photo at our recent (23rd annual) South Carolina Golf Trip; I love Phil Mickelson and I hope he joins Tiger and Arnie this year by winning his fourth Masters, but I ran out of room for his photo.
One of my favorite spring traditions is to watch the Masters golf tournament. For me, it’s more than just a great sporting event – it kicks off “spring” in my mind, and usually follows my traditional golf trip with 7 really, really, really determined golfing buddies! We celebrated our 23rd year by playing 139 holes over a recent 4 day period! Now, after all of our efforts there is something really special about the Masters, beyond just the competition. Great setting, typically great weather, dogwoods and azaleas in bloom, and sort of a salute to professionalism, sportsmanship and tradition. I decided that this week I’d poke around on the internet and capture some of the known and no-so known trivia about the tournament. Thanks as always to Wikipedia for the details. Enjoy.
- The Masters Tournament, also known as The Masters or The US Masters, is one of the four major championships in professional golf, scheduled for the first full week of April, and it is the first of the majors to be played each year.
- Unlike the other major championships, the Masters is held each year at the same location, Augusta National Golf Club, a private golf club in the city of Augusta, Georgia, USA. The Masters was started by Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones. Jones designed Augusta National with course architect Alister MacKenzie.
- The idea for Augusta National originated with Bobby Jones, who wanted to build a golf course after his retirement from the game. He sought advice from Clifford Roberts, who later became the chairman of the club. They came across a piece of land in Augusta, Georgia, of which Jones said: “Perfect! And to think this ground has been lying here all these years waiting for someone to come along and lay a golf course upon it.
- The tournament has a number of traditions. Since 1949, a green jacket has been awarded to the champion, who must return it to the clubhouse one year after his victory, although it remains his personal property and is stored with other champions’ jackets in a specially designated cloakroom.
- A golfer who wins the event multiple times uses the same green jacket awarded upon his initial win (unless he needs to be re-fitted with a new jacket).
- The Champions Dinner, inaugurated by Ben Hogan in 1952, is held on the Tuesday before each tournament, and is open only to past champions and certain board members of the Augusta National Golf Club.
- Beginning in 1963, legendary golfers, usually past champions, have hit an honorary tee shot on the morning of the first round to commence play. These have included Fred McLeod, Jock Hutchinson, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player.
- Since 1960, a semi-social contest at the par-3 course has been played on Wednesday, the day before the first round.
- Nicklaus has the most Masters wins, with six between 1963 and 1986. Palmer and Tiger Woods won four each, and five have won three titles at Augusta: Jimmy Demaret, Sam Snead, Gary Player, Nick Faldo, and Phil Mickelson.
- The first “Augusta National Invitational” Tournament, as the Masters was originally known, began on March 22, 1934, and was won by Horton Smith. The present name was adopted in 1939. The first tournament was played with current holes 10 through 18 played as the first nine, and 1 through 9 as the second nine then reversed permanently to its present layout for the 1935 tournament.
- Gene Sarazen hit the “shot heard ’round the world” in 1935, holing a shot from the fairway on the par 5 15th for a double eagle (albatross). This tied Sarazen with Craig Wood, and in the ensuing 36-hole playoff Sarazen was the victor by five strokes.
- The tournament was not played from 1943 to 1945, due to World War II. To assist the war effort, cattle and turkeys were raised on the Augusta National grounds.
- The Big Three of Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, and Jack Nicklaus dominated the Masters from 1960 through 1978, winning the event 11 times among them during that span. After winning by one stroke in 1958, Palmer won by one stroke again in 1960 in memorable circumstances. Trailing Ken Venturi by one shot in the 1960 event, Palmer made birdies on the last two holes to prevail. Palmer would go on to win another two Masters in 1962 and 1964.
- Jack Nicklaus emerged in the early 1960s, and served as a rival to the popular Palmer. Nicklaus won his first green jacket in 1963, defeating Tony Lema by one stroke. Two years later, he shot a then-course record of 271 (17 under par) for his second Masters win, leading Bobby Jones to say that Nicklaus played “a game with which I am not familiar.” The next year, Nicklaus won his third green jacket in a grueling 18-hole playoff against Tommy Jacobs and Gay Brewer. This made Nicklaus the first player to win consecutive Masters. He won again in 1972 by three strokes and in 1975, Nicklaus by one stroke in a close contest with Tom Weiskopf and Johnny Miller in one of the most exciting Masters to date.
- Gary Player became the first non-American to win the Masters in 1961, beating Palmer, the defending champion. In 1974, he won again by two strokes. After not winning a tournament on the U.S. PGA tour for nearly four years, and at the age of 42, Player won his third and final Masters in 1978 by one stroke over three players.
- Player currently shares (with Fred Couples) the record of making 23 consecutive cuts, and has played in a record 52 Masters.
- The golf course was formerly a plant nursery and each hole is named after the tree or shrub with which it has become associated.
- The Masters has the smallest field of the major championships with 90–100 players. Unlike other majors, there are no alternates or qualifying tournaments. It is an invitational event, with invitations largely issued on an automatic basis to players who meet published criteria. The top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking are all invited.
- CBS has televised the Masters in the United States every year since 1956 when it used six cameras and covered only the final four holes. Tournament coverage of the first eight holes did not begin until 1993 because of resistance from the tournament organizers. In 2008, ESPN replaced USA and Universal as the weekday coverage provider. Westwood One has done the radio broadcast sine 1956.
- As traditional as the green jacket, the Pimento Cheese Sandwich is another one of those beloved, (but odd) icons of the Masters. Priced at $1.50, the sandwich, and its price, seem to be frozen in time.
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