The Masters is the most prestigious professional golf event in the world. It is one of the four major championships on the PGA Tour, and the first major to take place annually in the tour’s calendar year. The Masters is the only of the four major tournaments to take place at the same venue every year. The tourney has been played at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, since its inception in 1934.
The idea for Augusta National Golf Club came from legendary golfer Bobby Jones. Jones wanted to build a golf course after he retired from playing professionally, and he happened upon a huge chunk of empty land in rural Georgia. Construction on the club began in 1931 and it officially opened for business in 1933.
The tournament has not always been known as the Masters. It debuted as the “Augusta National Invitational” in March of 1934, and Horton Smith was the winner. Smith also won in 1936, with the Masters accounting for his only two victories in major tournaments.
The field of golfers playing in the event was comprised of Jones’ close friends and associates. He attempted to lure the US Open to Augusta, but the USGA rejected the notion and declared that the hot summers in Georgia would make for hellish playing conditions for the players.
The name “The Masters” was adopted in 1939 in homage to the “masters of golf” that participated in the tournament.
In addition to established professionals, select amateurs are also invited to participate in the Masters every year. 50 of the top-ranked players from the season prior automatically qualify for The Masters, along with previous Masters champions and the aforementioned amateurs.
US, British, Latin American, Asia-Pacific and US Mid-Amateur champions are all allowed to play in the event. Any player that has won The Masters, the US Open, the British Open and the Players Championship in the past is invited to play, as well.
Those that finished in the top-12 of The Masters and the top-four of the US Open, British Open and Players Championships in the previous season also qualify for The Masters.
Since 1948, the final round of The Masters has been scheduled to take place on the second Sunday of every April. As is the case with every major championship, the tournament is comprised of four rounds with 18 holes per round. It begins on Thursday and ends on Sunday, barring weather or other factors that may force delays or postponements.
Players will play in groups of three for the first two rounds, with all players starting on the first hole. The field is not split so that half of the players start on the first hole and the other half on the 10th, as is the case with other tournaments. The Masters is also the only major championship to take place at a private club rather than a public course.
From the tournament’s inception in 1934 until 1957, all players in the field were permitted to play all four rounds. From 1957 until 1960, the 40 players with the best scores and those within 10 strokes of the leader through the tournament’s first two rounds made the cut. The rules were changed in 1961 to include the top 44 scores as well as those within 10 strokes. It was that way until 2013, when it was changed again to include the top 50 scores as well as those within 10 strokes of the leader after two rounds.
Those that don’t make the cut are not allowed to play the final two rounds on Saturday and Sunday. The rules were changed in 1961 to include the top 44 scores as well as those within 10 strokes. It was that way until 2013, when it was changed again to include the top 50 scores as well as those within 10 strokes of the leader after two rounds.
Those that don’t make the cut are not allowed to play the final two rounds on Saturday and Sunday.
If no winner is determined after the fourth round is played, all players tied for the lead will enter a sudden-death playoff. The playoff starts at the 18th hole before going to the 10th, if necessary. Play goes back-and-forth between these two holes until a winner is determined.
On the Wednesday before the tournament begins, certain players will participate in the Par 3 Contest, which was first introduced in 1960. There is a nine-hole course consisting of nothing but par threes, built in 1958. The winner of the Par 3 Contest wins a crystal bowl. It is merely intended to be a fun undercard event, akin to the Slam Dunk contest at the NBA All-Star Game or the Home Run Derby in baseball. The winner of the Par 3 Contest has never gone on to win The Masters in the same year.
Since 1963, most Masters tournaments have begun with an honorary tee shot, typically hit by one of the game’s legends. Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod shot the honorary initial tee shots in every tournament from 1963 until 1973. Byron Nelson and Gene Sarazen took over in 1981, and Sam Snead joined in 1984.
Arnold Palmer took the reins beginning in 2007 before being joined by Jack Nicklaus in 2010 and 2011. Gary Player joined the twosome in 2012.
The Champions’ Dinner takes place every Tuesday prior to the first round beginning on the following Thursday. The dinner first took place in 1952, and the event is meant to honor the tournament’s past champions. The defending champion hosts the dinner and selects the menu. Historically, players have served cuisine hailing from their home nations. For example, German Bernhard Langer served wiener schnitzel, while Englishman Nick Faldo served fish and chips.
American Jack Nicklaus holds the individual record for Masters championships. He won six between 1963 and 1986. Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods are tied for second with four titles apiece, while Phil Mickelson, Nick Faldo, Sam Snead, Jimmy Demaret and Gary Player have each won the tournament three times.
Player, who hails from Australia, became the first non-American to win the event in 1961. Seve Ballasteros, Bernhard Langer, Jose Maria Olazabal, Bubba Watson, Tom Watson, Ben Hogan, Ben Crenshaw and Byron Nelson are others to have won the event multiple times.
Woods and Jordan Spieth share the record for winning margin as well as lowest winning score. Woods won by 12 strokes with a score of -18 in 1997, while Spieth did the same in 2015. Woods remains the youngest player to ever win The Masters, as he was 21 years, 104 days old when he did so in ’97.
Nicklaus became the oldest player to ever win the tournament when he did so in 1986 as a 46-year-old.
The best score for an individual round is 63, shared by Nice Price (1986) and Greg Norman (1996). Neither player would go on to win the tournament that year, however.
Nicklaus, Hogan and Tom Weiskopf each share the record for most runner-up finishes at The Masters, with four apiece. Woods, Faldo and Palmer are the only players to have ever won the tournament in back-to-back years. No player has won three straight.
Americans have won The Masters 59 times, which is by far the most wins for any country. South Africa ranks second with five, England and Spain have four while Germany has two.