Masters 101: A guide to the year's first major

By Golf Channel DigitalApril 3, 2017, 1:00 pm

Take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions of the Masters Tournament:

Who created the Masters?

The Masters was the brainchild of legendary amateur golfer Bobby Jones and investment dealer Clifford Roberts, who co-founded the Augusta National Golf Club in 1933.


When did it begin?

The tournament began in 1934.


Who was the first winner?

Horton Smith. One of the better players of his day, Smith also won the Masters in 1936.


Why is it called the Masters?

When the tournament began it was called the Augusta National Invitation Tournament. Roberts suggested it be called the Masters, a reference to the "masters of golf" who played in it, but Jones thought the name immodest. Roberts finally got his way in 1939.


How did it become so popular?

Jones was one of the most famous and most admired sports figures of his day, especially after he accomplished the unprecedented feat of winning a "Grand Slam" - capturing the U.S. and British Open and Amateur titles. It was only natural that a tournament he established would inherit his popularity.


Why is it a major?

Unlike the other three majors - the U.S. Open, The Open, and the PGA - the Masters isn't the "championship" of anything. But majors have historically been determined by popular opinion, and between Jones, the fact that it is an early spring tournament and the quality of players who have won at Augusta, the tournament just naturally became regarded as a major.


Why does the winner get a green jacket?

In 1937, Augusta National members began wearing green sportcoats so that they could be recognized if fans had questions about the tournament. The tradition was expanded to winners being presented with green jackets in 1949. Sam Snead was the winner that year, so he got the first jacket, and all the previous winners were retroactively ordered jackets.


Does the winner keep the green jacket?

Technically, no. He is supposed to return it at the following year's event. But he can have a replica made for him to keep.  


Who is eligible to play each year?

There are currently 19 categories for invitation to this year's Masters. Ready? 1. Previous Masters winners; 2-4. Winners of the five most recent U.S. Opens, British Opens and PGA Championships; 5. Winners of the three most recent Players Championships; 6. The current Olympic gold medalist; 7. The current U.S. Amateur champion and runner-up; 8. The current British Amateur champion; 9-11. The current Asia-Pacific Amateur champion, Latin America Amateur champion and U.S. Mid-Amateur champion; 12. The first 12 players, including ties, in the previous year's Masters; 13. The first four players, including ties, in the previous year's U.S. Open; 14. The first four players, including ties, in the previous year's Open; 15. The first four players, including ties, in the previous year's PGA Championship; 16. Winners of PGA Tour events that award a full-point allocation for the season-ending Tour Championship, from the previous Masters to the current Masters; 17. Those qualifying for the previous year's season-ending Tour Championship; 18. The 50 leaders on the final Official World Golf Ranking for the previous calendar year; 19. The 50 leaders on the Official World Golf Ranking published during the week prior to the current Masters.


Who are some of Augusta National's better-known members?

Augusta  does not comment on its membership or reveal the identities of its members, but these public figures are reportedly members: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens and Jack Nicklaus. Arnold Palmer was a member of Augusta National before he died last September. 


Why are holes named after flowers?

This is an homage to the property's former use as a nursery containing thousands of flowering plants and trees imported from various countries. Each hole was named after and adorned with one of these plants. Click here to view a hole-by-hole gallery with the flowery names.


Why do I keep hearing about azaleas in connection with the Masters?

Azaleas are arguably the most spectacular looking of Augusta National's plants. The 13th hole is named for them. They bloom for only a few weeks out of the year, however, and the club tries to make sure that is during the tournament.


Who designed the course?

The original architect was Alister MacKenzie, a British surgeon who later became a golf course architect. Jones had met him in 1927 at St. Andrews, a course they both revered, and Jones also admired MacKenzie's work in California at Cypress Point and Pasatiempo. MacKenzie died in January 1934, after the construction work had been finished but before Augusta National was fully covered with grass.


What is Amen Corner?

Amen Corner is holes 11, 12 and 13, which are located - literally - at a corner of the property. The name comes from a 1958 Sports Illustrated article by legendary golf writer Herbert Warren Wind. Wind later explained that he was looking for a catchy phrase - a la baseball's "hot corner" or football's "coffin corner" - to show where some of the most crucial action had taken place that year. He said he took the name from a jazz record he had heard, "Shouting in That Amen Corner."


What is Magnolia Lane?

Magnolia Lane is the main driveway leading from Washington Road to the clubhouse. It is flanked on either side with 60 magnolia trees, which were planted in the 1850s.


What is the  Crow's Nest?

The Crow's Nest is living space available to amateurs on the top floor of the clubhouse. There are three cubicles, each with one bed, and one cubicle with two beds.


Who is Rae, of Rae's Creek fame?

The creek, which comes into play on the 12th and 13th holes, is named after former property owner John Rae, who died in 1789.


Who is Butler, of Butler Cabin fame?

Built in 1964, Butler Cabin was named for club member Thomas B. Butler. It is where the winner conducts his interview with CBS.


What is the Par 3 Contest?

The Par 3 Contest is a nine-hole competition held on the club's par-3 course the Wednesday before the Masters. It's extremely informal, with players' spouses and children often acting as caddies and even hitting occasional shots. No one has ever won the Par 3 Contest and the Masters in the same year.


What is the Champions Dinner?

The Champions Dinner is a gathering to which all former Masters winners are invited. By tradition, the previous year's winner suggests the menu, although options are provided for anyone who considers the menu not to their taste. It was started in 1952 by Ben Hogan.


Who has won the most Masters titles?

Jack Nicklaus won six Masters titles, two more than anyone else.


Who is the youngest Masters winner?

Tiger Woods became the youngest Masters champion when he won in 1997 at age 21.


Who is the oldest Masters winner?

Jack Nicklaus became the oldest Masters champion when he won in 1986 at age 46.


Who holds the 72-hole scoring record?

The record, 18-under 270, is shared by Tiger Woods (1997) and Jordan Spieth (2015).


Who holds the 18-hole scoring record?

The record, 9-under 63, is shared by Greg Norman (first round in 1996) and Nick Price (third round in 1986).


Has an amateur ever won the Masters?

No amateur has ever won the Masters, but a few have come close. In 1947, Frank Stranahan finished T-2, two shots behind winner Jimmy Demaret. In 1954, Billy Joe Patton finished one stroke out of the Sam Snead-Ben Hogan playoff. In 1956, Ken Venturi lead after 18, 36 and 54 holes, but he shot 80 on the final day and finished one shot behind Jack Burke Jr.


Did Jones ever play in the Masters?

Jones played in the Masters 12 times - every year it was held between 1934 and 1948 (because of World War II it was not held in 1943, '44 or '45). His best finish came in his first appearance, when he shot 6-over 294 and finished T-13.


What is the most famous shot in the history of the Masters?

Gene Sarazen's "Shot Heard 'Round the World, a 235-yard 4-wood shot that he holed for an albatross on the 15th hole in the final round. That helped him get into a 36-hole playoff the next day with Craig Wood, which Sarazen won. 


How does the Masters purse compare to the other majors?

The Masters purse is in line with the purses for the other two majors played in the United States - the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship. The 2016 winner's share was the same for each: $1.8 million. The winner's share for The Open was slightly less, about $1.53 million when converted to U.S. funds.


When was Augusta National "Tiger-proofed," what did that consist of, and why was it done?

For most of its existence, Augusta National has played at slightly less than 7,000 yards. When Woods won in 1997, he effectively transformed the par-5 holes into par 4s by easily reaching their greens in two shots, sometimes with as little club as a wedge. Club officials decided to make changes - primarily adding length - after Woods won his second green jacket in 2001. Even with the changes, Woods won again in 2002. And again in 2005. More changes were made before the 2006 event, including the addition of trees and the narrowing of fairways. Woods has not won since.


What was the Eisenhower tree?

The Eisenhower tree was a tall loblolly pine whose branches hovered over the left side of the 17th fairway. It got its name from the efforts of former President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was an Augusta National member, to have it removed because he hit it so often. Nature finally did what Clifford Roberts refused to. The tree suffered extensive damage during a 2014 ice storm and was taken down in February of that year.

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.