Little-known facts about The Masters
Now that the 2020 Masters Championship has been postponed until November, I thought a look back at how the world’s greatest golf tournament came about might get you in the mood for safe and social distancing summer golf.
ONE: The Masters Golf Tournament actually got its start by accident.
In 1932, Bobby Jones opened his Augusta National Golf Course, and by 1934 he, the members and his investors wanted to host a major tournament.
When the USGA turned him down in early 1934 as the host of the U.S. Open, Jones and the members held their own tournament and called it the National Invitational Tournament (the name wouldn’t be changed to The Masters until 1939).
TWO: Jones and his investors wanted his course to be an art form, so they hired Dr. Alister MacKenzie to design it. In January of 1934, MacKenzie died and never saw the completion of his course or the first tournament.
THREE: The Masters winners green jacket got its start in 1937 when the club members wore them to distinguish themselves from the common fans. It wasn’t until 1949, when Sam Snead won The Masters, that the first green jacket was given to a winner of the tournament.
Along with the green jacket, the winners receive a lifetime exemption from qualifying for future tournaments. In other words, they have a permanent invitation to play, no matter their age, but they must make the cut to continue.
FOUR: The Masters invented the format for tournament golf. It was the first 72-hole event played over four days and is still used to this day
FIVE: During the TV broadcast of The Masters, viewers will not hear the words: fans, championship, bleachers, sand traps, or how much money the winner actually receives along with the green jacket.
SIX: In 1994, commentator Gary McCord was taken out of the broadcast booth after he referred to the fast greens as “bikini waxed.” In the ‘60s, commentator Jack Whitaker covered the event until he referred to the patrons standing around the 18th green as “a mob.” To get their next year’s contract renewed with Augusta, CBS had to drop Whitaker from the booth.
SEVEN: The top of the Augusta National Clubhouse is called the “crow’s nest.” During The Masters week, four amateurs are invited to play and stay on the grounds. Notable past amateurs who went on to win in later years include: Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson and Phil Mickelson.
EIGHT: After years of controversy, African-American golfers were allowed to participate in The Masters tournament. In 1975, Lee Elder became the first African-American to play at Augusta, after winning the Monsanto Open.
NINE: Next time you see a close-up of Rae’s Creek on TV, remember that the maintenance crew dyes the creek blue the first week in April to look good for the audience watching at home.
TEN: Attendance figures and gate receipts are never disclosed to the public. It has been reported that scalped tickets to The Masters go for as high as $12,000 apiece.
ELEVEN: From 1943-45, The Masters was not played. During World War II, tournament play was suspended and the course was used to raise turkeys and cattle for the war effort.
TWELVE: Jack Nicklaus has six Masters wins, followed by Tiger Woods with five, Arnold Palmer with four, and five different golfers have three wins each.
19th Hole Trivia
• Tiger Woods went 14 years between his last Masters win (2005) and his 2019 win at Augusta.
• The winner’s green jacket must be returned to the clubhouse the following year and will stay there, unless he wins the tournament again.
• Bobby Jones’ main partner, who invested in and helped start The Masters, was Clifford Roberts.