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Masters Tournament 101: A guide to the major

Augusta National
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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.

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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 sport coats 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. The shade of green, by the way, is Pantone 342.

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 (one year); 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 Tournament

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, former quarterback Peyton Manning, Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Jack Nicklaus.

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.

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. There is no Par 3 contest this year, for the second consecutive occasion.

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 (1963, '65, '66, '72, '75 and '86). Tiger Woods is one back, having added a fifth title last year (1997, 2001, '02, '05, '19).

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 is 20-under 268, set by Dustin Johnson at the 2020 Masters, which was postponed until November because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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. 

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.