No golf club is so private while having such a public persona as the Augusta National Golf Club. Its annual Masters golf tournament is the most meticulously run major sporting event on the planet while the golf course is probably the World’s most uniquely famous (with due respect to The Old Course at St. Andrews.) In the Western free world, there is no sporting membership as advantageous a networking tool as a membership there. It is open only a little more than six months a year for its approximately 300 members, but many are working tirelessly at keeping both the Club and The Masters as the standard to which all others are judged. Interestingly, there are a myriad of fun facts and stories about all this.
The Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia really evokes the beginning of the golf year no matter where you reside. I’ve been enjoying and studying it since 1961. Much has been written, but were you aware of the following? How much did you already know? (I believe that the following remains accurate going into the 2022 event and I APOLOGIZE IN ADVANCE FOR THE LACK OF PROPER SPACING BETWEEN PARAGRAPHS.)
It was a crisp December morning in 1930 when Bobby Jones, Clifford Roberts, and Alfred Bourne (of Singer Sewing Machine Co.) first set foot on and viewed the property. Jones said, “Frankly I was overwhelmed by the exciting possibilities of a golf course set in such a nursery. I had been told, of course, of the marvelous trees and plants, but I was still unprepared for the great beauty Fruitlands offered.”
Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts exercised a $70,000 option on the 365-acre Fruitland Nursery for what is now the Augusta National Golf Club. Construction began in 1931 and limited play commenced the next year with the formal opening occurring in 1933.
The Club was hardly an instant success. Original plans were for a national membership of 1,800 and a high-end residential community. In four years and tens of thousands of solicitation albeit during the Depression, just 76 joined. The initiation fee was $350 and annual dues were $60. The tournament did not exactly start off robust either despite Bobby Jones coming out of retirement to lure invitees as the player-host. Sixty-five made the first event and then 52, 46, and 42 the succeeding three years. In fact, 1n 1933 an embarrassed Clifford Roberts wrote to creditors and told them they couldn’t pay for their toilet paper from the Augusta Grocery Company .
A $100,000 makeover of the clubhouse was planned at inception, but the Club made due with the existing structure. An anticipated Ladies Course was never built nor was a 19th “Bye Hole” between the 18th green and the clubhouse. The Club’s finances never really solidified until after World War II and for the longest time, women only played as guests.
Between 1943 and 1945, 200 cattle and more than 1,400 turkeys, as well as 42 German prisoners of war occupied the fairways of the closed down Augusta National fairways. The cattle ate a large number of valuable azalea and camellia plants as well as some of the bark of the trees and ended up costing the Club money. Fortunately the Club made up the loss through the sale of the turkeys. The POWs were hired from Camp Gordon and worked mostly on the golf course. In fact, forty-two German POWs, members of a bridge-building engineering crew in Rommel’s “Africka Corps,” the erected a bridge over Rae’s Creek near the 13th tee that lasted until the 1950s. Obviously the tournament was not held during that time.
For years it was mistakenly written that Bobby Jones chose Dr. Alister MacKenzie to design his dream course based on the strength of Jones’ visits to MacKenzie’s Cypress Point and Pasatiempo in 1929. Actually, the two men had met earlier at St. Andrews and bonded based upon their mutual affection for The Old Course.
The Club nearly went bankrupt and only paid course designer Alistair Mackenzie only $2,000 of the $10,000 it owed him. He died in January, 1934 just two months before the first tournament was held. He never saw or played the finished course.
Magnolia Lane was not paved until 1947.
Founders Circle is at the base of the flagpole in front of the clubhouse. Two plaques there honor the Masters’ founders: Bob Jones and Clifford Roberts.
Again during World War II, the Club struggled financially. Dues were suspended, but members were asked to donate $100 a year so that the Club could retain ownership to the property. Most did.
The first tournament was held March 22, 1934 and since 1940 it has been scheduled for the first full week in April, but was postponed in 2020 until November when no patrons were admitted and the par-three tournament was also canceled – all due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Inaugural champion Horton Smith holed a three-and-a-half footer to win and called it “the longest putt” of his life. He used a “Bobby Jones” model driver.
The prize money for the tournament remained constant from the beginning until the tournament was suspended for the beginning of World War II. The total purse was $5,000 and it was paid to the twelve leading professionals. Clifford Roberts would annually pass the hat among the membership to raise this amount, but the Club continued to lose money each year on the tournament and also suffer operating deficits as a Club. The Club had but 76 members at tournament time.
The core of the original clubhouse was built in 1854 and is recognized as the first cement house to be constructed in the South.
The remains of an Indian burial ground were discovered in the area of the 12th green when the course was built in the early 1930s. A grist mill stood from the 1770s to 1830s where the current dam is located behind the 11th green. At one time, a portion of an old grist wheel was visible in Rae’s creek in front of the 12th green.
The original late 1920s prospectus for Augusta National called for the handsome 1854 manor clubhouse to be razed. A new clubhouse was to have been outfitted in whitewashed brick and would have housed a gigantic locker room, but in 1931, an early member named Harry Atkinson wrote to club co-founder Clifford Roberts, stating that Atkinson’s wife was quite fond of the building and asked that it be renovated instead. With money tight at the time, the clubhouse survived — and prospered.
Annual dues for membership started at $60 per year and the membership initiation fee was $350 would be in the neighborhood of a paltry $4,217 in 2015 dollars). Those who underwrote the club signed a firm commitment for a minimum of $5,000 and a goal of $50,000, but in a mission to solicit Alfred Bourne of the Singer Sewing Machine family, the committee chairperson mistakenly stammered out a request of $50,000 instead of $5,000 to which Bourne provided the very next morning. Mission accomplished! Walton Marshall provided $25,000 and several more $5-10,000. Bobby Jones was not asked as it was known that he had no money until he later received the monumental sum of about half a million dollars for his golf instructional movie work with Warner Brothers.
The property was once an indigo plantation, but was purchased by the Belgian Baron Berckman’s family in 1857. Their son, Prosper, who was an agronomist and horticulturist, began importing many trees and plants from around the world including the azalea that remained on the property. The Baron died in 1883 and his son Prosper passed in 1910 with the nursery ceasing operations in 1918.
In recent years during The Masters, all fairways are mowed in one direction back toward the tee. This makes the course play longer and approaches and short game shots just a bit more exacting as one is hitting against the grain of the grass. Previously the course was groomed back to the tee in one direction and toward the green in the other. It was felt that players able to achieve a down-grain hit and achieved much greater distance and preferable lie, while the newer way makes the entire fairway play the same for everyone.
Inspired by the building of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Bob Jones, and particularly Clifford Roberts especially looked to build a golf hall of fame at Augusta. It would feature a full miniature version of Augusta, a movie wing, replicas of the books in the library, and a driving range. The plan was scrapped because of the start of World War II.
No one actually won “The Masters” until 1939 because from 1934 through 1938 the event was known as the “Augusta National Invitation Tournament.”
The worst opening round by an eventual champions was a 75 by Craig Stadler in 1982 who was a first-time competitor.
Walter Hagen would play in only one “Masters” in 1934. He finished tied for 13th along with the tournament’s founder, Bobby Jones.
Bobby Jones came out of retirement to compete in the inaugural event and finished 10 strokes back, tied for 13th despite some balky putting. In the tournament, Jones took 36, 38, 30 and 32 putts for the four rounds, respectively. (He played the tournament another 11 times.)
Horton Smith was a magician around the greens and known as one of the best putters of the time when he won the first and third Augusta National Invitations. In 1934, he made a 20-foot birdie on the 17th and a downhill 4-footer on 18 to win. Two years later, Smith holed a 40-foot chip on 14, made an 8-footer on 15, and a 16-footer on 17 in closing out his victory. His Ryder Cup record was also impeccable as he played on five teams and never lost a match. Smith served as President of the PGA and owned 32 Tour titles while finishing second 37 times.
Horton Smith won the inaugural Masters playing a “Bobby Jones Model” Driver.
While the Masters did more to make Arnold Palmer famous and start Tiger Woods on his great span of play, it was Jack Nicklaus that has truly dominated. Nicklaus holds the record for most wins (6), most top five finishes (15), most top ten finishes (22), most career birdies (506) and most career eagles (24). Additionally, he is the oldest ever winner (46 and 2 months in 1986), has finished in second place four times (a record he shares with Ben Hogan and Tom Weiskopf) and recorded the second lowest score for 72 holes (271 – 1965).
The term “Amen Corner” was coined in 1958 by the late venerable golf journalist, Herbert Warren Wind because he felt that this was the section of the golf course where the crucial events took place. He borrowed the phrase from the old jazz recording entitled “Shouting at Amen Corner,” a mid-1930s jazz recording by Mezz Mezzrow made by the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra, with Mildred Bailey on vocals.
My friend Reid Nelson from Charleston, South Carolina further points out this about “Shouting at Amen Corner.” Says Reid, “Amen Corner referred to a particular area of New York City that, way back when, was known as a center of Bible publishing, printing, whatever you call it. Because so many Bibles were printed in that area, street preachers would go there daily and shout out there sermons on this particular street corner. Those who gathered to listen to the impromptu evangelists would repeatedly yell out “Amen,” as the preachers gave their sermons. So locals began to call that street corner Amen Corner.) So now you know the rest of the story. Thank you Reid!
A tournament of firsts: The Masters was the first tournament to host a 72-hole competition over four days; the first to have room to park thousands of cars; the first to offer free daily pairing sheets instead of a program; the first tournament to be covered nationwide on radio and later on High Definition TV; the first to use bleachers; the first to use rope galleries; and the first to use private detectives to handle ticket sales and security. It developed the first on-course scoreboard and was the first to use the over/under par system we generally use today.
On March 22, 1934, at 9:45 a.m., journeyman Ralph Stonehouse was the first player ever to tee off in a Masters Tournament (then called the Augusta National Invitational).
Ben Hogan began the Tuesday night “Champion’s Dinner” tradition in 1952, but never attended another after he finished 10th in 1967 except in 1978 as relayed by defending champion Tom Watson. The previous year’s winner chooses the menu and pays the bill.
Ben Hogan, who, on Jan. 12, 1954, sent a letter to Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts reflecting on the first two Champion Dinners. Hogan wanted to express its significance. “Surely this has to be the most exclusive club of all,” Hogan wrote. “Not only do a fortunate few of us have the tournament to look forward to, but the annual meeting of our club as well. Here, long after serious competition for some of us comes to an end, we can still get together and reminisce. I can only hope that I shall play host a few more times.”
The Champion’s Dinner begins at about 6 p.m. with drinks and hors d’oeuvres in the Masters Club Room, a second-floor locker room and lounge reserved for past champions. Many champions bring memorabilia to be passed around for autographs, then taken home to auction off at charity tournaments and dinners. At 7:30, the party adjourns to the adjacent library. A group photo is taken, and then everyone takes a place at the huge rectangular dinner table set up in front of the double doors that lead out onto the veranda. Green carpet, white tablecloth and champion golfers. In 2020, with people wearing masks and sitting socially distant, you can imagine that many conversations may have been left unheard among the older champions.
The Champion’s Dinner was held on Fridays for the first seven years before shifting to Tuesdays in 1959. It consisted of chicken, steak, or fish until the mid-1980s when the reigning champion selected their own menu. And no one is forced to partake in that menu and can select something else as several did when Sandy Lyle presented haggis composed of the heart, liver, and lungs of a sheep. Hogan emceed the initial four years before handing that honor over to Byron Nelson who continued until after the 2004 event upon which Ben Crenshaw took over. The past living champion who has missed the most meals has been Jackie Burke, Jr. (99 in 2022). For years, the ultimate story-teller, Sam Snead, would conclude usually with an array of off-color humor that reportedly Byron Nelson cared little for. It has been believed by Snead’s older son, Jack, that it was for his Dad’s annual cracks that he never received a namesake landmark at the Club.
One of the Champion’s Dinner highlights is the golf-ball-size Graber olives introduced by late club co-founder Cliff Roberts. Fuzzy Zoeller and Arnold Palmer once engaged in a cheek-bulging contest to see who could eat the most. Zoeller claims to have won, “although he (Palmer) was pretty good at it.”
In the early days of the club, Roberts and Jones had hoped to host the U.S. Open. USGA President and Senator Prescott Bush, father of George H.W. and grandfather of George W. played Augusta National in February, 1933 and was so impressed with the course that he floated the idea of them hosting the US Open, but it never really materialized because of the June dates for the Open.
To date, no player has won the Wednesday par-3 contest and then won the tournament. The first Par-3 Contest was held in 1960; it replaced the clinics, long-driving contests, and accuracy competitions that had often been held on Wednesdays before the tournament. Sam Snead won the first Contest, giving him his second significant Augusta National “first”: in 1949, he was the first Masters winner to be awarded a green jacket.
$50 – the amount that Craig Wood and Gene Sarazen each received for their 18-hole play-off in 1935.
Sam Snead and Gary Player were the first to compete in the Masters in five different decades.
Jack Nicklaus’ mother, Helen, attended his first Masters, in 1959, and didn’t return again until 1986.
The original plan for Augusta National was to build two 18-hole courses, the second one for women as part of a real estate development.
The Augusta National Golf Club also originally planned to tear down the existing clubhouse and build a modern one. It never happened.
The green jacket tradition began in 1937 when they became available to Members, but it wasn’t until 1949 when winner Sam Snead was awarded the first winner’s Green Jacket. Green Jackets were also retroactively presented to the previous nine winners of the Masters – Horton Smith, Gene Sarazen, Nelson, Henry Picard, Ralph Guldahl, Jimmy Demaret, Craig Wood, Herman Keiser, and Claude Harmon. And the act of the defending champion helping the winner into his Green Jacket wasn’t part of the early years.
In 1994 a lucky and unsuspecting golf fan came across one of the green jackets in a Toronto thrift shop and paid a whopping $5 to take it home. The Augusta National confirmed the authenticity of the piece and determined that the Green Jacket in question was from the 1950s. The lucky thrifter went on to sell the jacket at auction for nearly $140,000 in 2017!
The The Masters green jacket is a classic, three-button, single-breasted and single-vent, featuring the Augusta National Golf Club logo on the left chest pocket. The logo also appears on the brass buttons. The tropical-weight wool — roughly 2 1/2 yards per jacket and comes from the Forstmann Co. mill in Dublin, Georgia. Its logo-stamped brass buttons are made by Waterbury Co. of Massachusetts and the breast-pocket patch is made by A&B Emblem Co. in Weaverville, N.C. Augusta National, Inc. landed a win in 2020 when the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office agreed to register the colors of the jacket as a trademark after initially refusing to do so earlier the year before.
Augusta National bought green jackets from the Brooks Uniform Company in New York in 1937, three years after the club opened. Members were not fans of these green jackets, as they found the material too thick and uncomfortable in warm weather, so they soon changed suppliers.
Since 1967, Hamilton Tailoring Co. of Cincinnati has been the exclusive maker of the green jacket. But don’t even think about trying to order one for yourself. The company does not accept orders from the general public for such an iconic article of clothing. The color of the jackets, known as “Masters Green,” is actually a shade of brilliant rye green known as “Pantone 342.” It happens to be the third variation of green used and is the same color as the Whole Foods Market logo.
As for the rule that famous jacket “cannot be sold or given to third parties under any circumstances.” There was one notable exception: relatives of Horton Smith, who won the tournament in 1934 and 1936, found his green jacket in a closet in 2013, and put it up for auction that year. It sold for $682,229.
More recently, Augusta National, Inc. filed suit against Florida-based Green Jacket Auctions Inc. to prevent the unaffiliated organization from selling an array of Augusta Nation-branded wares, including a champion’s green jacket (the champion’s green jacket won by Byron Nelson in 1966, which had gone missing from the club), and two member jackets. Augusta National, Inc. argued that Green Jacket Auctions was in “wrongful possession” of and lacked legal title in all three jackets, and the parties ultimately settled the case in early 2019. As for Nelson’s jacket, that has remained in the possession of Gregory Waunford-Brown, who, according to court documents, acquired the jacket privately through Green Jacket Auctions. Green Jacket Auctions has sold the jackets of about 30 members, plus those of three champions—Smith, 1957 winner Doug Ford and 1959 victor Art Wall Jr. Ford’s jacket sold for $62,000, and Wall’s went for $63,000. Member jackets typically go for $12,000-$20,000 according to the company.
While the previous winner puts the jacket on the current champion, if a golfer wins it two years in a row, the Augusta National chairman slips the jacket onto the winner.
Augusta National holds trademark registrations for word like “Masters,” “Augusta National Golf Club,” and “Green Jacket.”
The idea for the “Green Jacket” came from Bobby Jones. While attending a dinner at Royal Liverpool in England, Jones noticed how the captains wore red jackets. He brought this idea back to co-founder, Clifford Roberts, and they chose green for the color of the jackets that August National members would wear. The green jackets are to be worn by members during Masters week so that patrons knew who to approach for sources of reliable information — and can never be taken off property.
Winners of the Masters must wear their green jacket whenever they play at Augusta National or visit and are reportedy are given a replica jacket for personal use away from the Club. To make sure that the champion will have a jacket that will fit, there are several green jackets in various sizes stored on site at Augusta National. As the tournament comes to a conclusion, employees begin to pull jackets in the sizes of the top players to have a correct sized green jacket ready for the winner. In the weeks after The Masters, a jacket is specifically tailor for the champion. By the way, reportedly the winning caddy is allowed to keep their white uniform.
A garment bag to transport the Green Jacket wasn’t given to the winner until Trevor Immelman won in 2008 and was provided an embroidered one with his name on it.
In 2009, Angel Cabrera won but was not yet a grandfather. He nearly became the first “Grandfather” to win the Masters, but lost in 2013 to the first Australian winner Adam Scott on the second hole of a sudden-death play-off. The native of Argentina had become a grandfather and one of his sons also caddied for him during that tournament. Sadly, in 2021, Cabrera was sentenced to two years in prison in Argentina for assaulting his former partner. As things stand, a “Grandfather” has yet to win the tournament.
Gene Sarazen made the first “Double Eagle” at The Masters at the 15th hole in the final round that enabled him in 1935 to tie Craig Wood and later defeat him in an 18-hole play-off. Who scored the next one and when? It wasn’t until 1967 when Bruce Devlin made a two on the par-5 8th hole, and Jeff Maggert was the only other until 2012 when Louis Oosthuizen’s duece at the second took him all the way to a play-off with winner Bubba Watson. By the way, Bobby Jones, playing companion Walter Hagen, and Byron Nelson were among the small gallery that witnessed the Sarazen shot “heard round the world.”
The nines were switched from the original design in 1934 because the trees on the first several holes blocked the sun and thus delayed play more when there was a frost.
The oldest man to make the 36-hole cut was not Gary Player, Sam Snead, Tom Watson, or Jack Nicklaus, but former titleholder Tommy Aaron who did so in 2000 at the age of 63 only to be replaced by Bernhard Langer in 2020 when he finished at 3-under par. (Gene Sarazen was 62 when he last made it.) As of 2019, only seven golfers forty or older have won.
Clifford Roberts was a respectable golfer possessing a single-digit handicap most of his life.
The “Crow’s Nest” is the third-floor retreat reserved during the tournament for amateur contestants. It measures 1,200 square feet that houses five. Thirty by forty feet, it houses four cubicles and the top of the room features an eleven-by-eleven foot cupola that can be accessed only by ladder.
Amateurs Ben Crenshaw and Rick Bendall watched the ceremonial drives of Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod from the clubhouse roof in only their underwear. Apparently everyone’s attention was directed elsewhere and no one saw the two who had climbed out of their quarters in “The Crow’s Nest.”
At the age of 65, Tom Watson became the oldest golfer to break par during The Masters with a 71 in 2015 tied for 18th after the opening round.
Fifty-three players finished the first round of the 2020 Masters Tournament under-par. Played in November, the conditions were softened by a morning storm and aided by little or no wind and warm conditions. The field scoring average of 71.41 is the lowest ever in an opening round at Augusta National.
What do Sam Snead (1954), Jack Burke, Jr. (1956) and Zach Johnson have in common? They share the highest winning scores of 289 (+1). Burke came from eight shots back (largest come-from-behind margin) to win his victory by one-stroke over Ken Venturi.
Three amateurs have won the Par-3 Contest, Deane Beman (1961), Labron Harris Jr. (1964) and Jay Haas (1976) have all taken home the crystal for the Par-3 winner as amateurs. No contest was held in 2020.
2016 was the year of the aces in the Par-3 Contest. Nine were made erasing the mark of 5 made in both 2002 and 2015. It also marked the first time that back-t0-back aces were recorded with Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler holing their tee shots on the 130-yard 4th. (Playing companion defending champion Jordan Spieth then hit to 10 feet. Jimmy Walker who recorded one of those aces won the competition at 8-under while 80-year old Gary Player also made one.
Gary Player is the only winner to improperly take the Green Jacket improperly off the property past his 1961 winning year. (Winners have full custody of their jacket for the year after their victory.) It appears that Player wasn’t aware of the rule and took it home in 1962. Chairman Clifford Roberts called him and informed him that what he had done was not permitted. Player apologized and responded with a gustsy “Well, if you want the Jacket, why don’t you come and get it?” Fortunately in this case, Roberts laughed and simply told him never to do that again and to never wear it in public off-site.
Bruce Crampton first held the honor for posting the most eagles within a single competition with 4 made in 1974. Tiger Woods and then Dustin Johnson would then match Crampton, but none of them would win in those years. Anthony Kim holds the record for making 11 birdies in a round in his 2nd round of 2009, while Steve Pate (1999) and Tiger Woods (2005) hold the record for consecutive birdies with 7.
George Cobb and Clifford Roberts collaborated to design and build the par-3 course in 1958.
Bobby Jones’ death was indirectly the result of a lightning strike in 1929. He was playing a round at East Lake with friends when a sudden storm appeared. They took refuge next to the clubhouse, but a lightning bolt struck the building’s chimney, sending a shower of bricks and other debris raining down. Bobby was hit in the neck. And the resulting injury eventually led to fluid building in his spinal cord — syringomyelia — a crippling disease that left him wheelchair-bound. He died in Atlanta in 1971.
Eaglefest: 47 eagles were made during the 2015 event eclipsing the previous mark of 37 made in 1991 thanks to great weather and receptive putting surfaces. Also several hole locations on Sunday were situated in lower spots where shots would likely funnel making for potentially exciting television. The 17 eagles Friday tied the tournament record for most in a round, a number that was matched Sunday.
Art Wall, the 1959 winner, has the shortest name of all of winners. (Doug Ford’s last name was originally “Fortunato.”)
Lloyd Mangrum, in 1940, and Mike Donald, in 1990, both shot 64 in their first-ever rounds at the Masters. Mangrum finished 2nd, Donald finished 47th.
Clifford Roberts had the mounds to the left of the eighth green removed in 1956, but architect Joe Finger with consultation from Byron Nelson restored them to the Mackenzie specifications in 1979 after Roberts’ death.
Augusta National’s bunkers are actually not filled with sand but a waste produced by the mining of aluminum. This type of mining produces a really bright quartz, which is why the sand traps at the Masters are so sparkly white.
Long successful second putts – 40’ by Fred Couples for a birdie on the second hole following a 10’ eagle attempt in 1986.
The eleventh hole was originally a short sharp dogleg right with the tee to the right of the current tenth green, and just behind the present fifteenth hole. Players were forced to slice drives off the tee or hit irons so the hole was transformed.
$4,403 is the amount of money Jack Nicklaus earned in the seven tournaments on the PGA TOUR in 1986 prior to the 1986 Masters when he ranked 158th in putting. The $144,000 he earned for his sixth championship was 7 times the prize for his first.
On the Sunday before the 1986 Masters, Nicklaus was in Atlanta visiting the Country Club of the South in Atlanta, a course he was building. He read an article that he was apparently finished as a genuine competitor and soon after rewrote the prevailing opinions.
Rae’s Creek is named after John Rae. Rae kept residents safe during early Indian attacks and his home was the furthest fortress up the Savannah River from Fort Augusta. An early owner of parts of the property, he died in 1789.
Sixty-one large magnolia trees line both sides of the entrance of the 330-yard storied Magnolia Lane between Washington Avenue and the Clubhouse. Make that sixty, one fell right before the 2011 tournament.
The attention to detail on the course is noteworthy. Trees are cut so they all lean in toward the fairway, making the holes seem tighter. Any patches of bare grass are painted green to disguise them. The only negative is that some maintain that the course smells of chemicals used to keep the surrounding pristine.
Tommy Aaron, the ’73 winner, was the first Masters champion to wear eye-glasses. Vijay Singh wore specs and won in 2000.
This player 3-putted from twelve feet on the last green to finish second by a stroke to Herman Keiser. That was Ben Hogan in 1946 who also twice lost in play-offs, first to Byron Nelson and later to Sam Snead.
This player shot 17 strokes worse than he did the year before and still won. Jack Nicklaus won with an even-par 288 defeating Gay Brewer and Tommy Jacobs in an 18-hole play-off in 1965. Nicklaus won with a 271 the year previously and Gay Brewer would go on to win the next year.
Tiger Woods’ much discussed penalty (and not a disqualification) in the 2013 Masters is not the first time that the Masters Committee has given an elite player the benefit of the doubt. In 1960 Dow Finsterwald during the second round admitted to taking practice putting strokes (a two-stroke penalty) during the first round and he signed his card. After the fact, the Masters Committee assigned him the two-stroke penalty and allowed him to continue playing as he finished third. Arnold Palmer in both 1958 with an embedded ball and in 1967 swiping the bunker sand with his ball still in the same hazard got what many have considered favorable rulings. Palmer took his first Green Jacket in 1958 to the strong chagrin of both Ken Venturi and Doug Ford.
In Zach Johnson’s win, he did not go for a single par-five in two shots and yet played them in 11-under par.
2014 marked the most first-year players to compete – 24.
In 1995, the first year of the lottery for practice-round tickets, the club received 250,000 applications.
In 1952, Aussie pro Norman Von Nida flew 50 hours from Australia to compete in the Masters. His 27th-place finish didn’t cover the cost of his airfare.
Gene Sarazen was the first, but not the only to double-eagle the par-five 15th. Dave Hill, a former assistant professional at the Club did the feat in the mid-1960s, and guest W. Duff McCready, a 5-handicapper from Pittsburgh, hit a Ginty (modified 7-wood) from 218 yards that also found the cup some fifty years later from the 480-yard Member’s Tees.
Before the start of the Masters in 1955, each player in the field went to the same spot on the 15th to see if they could duplicate Sarazen’s double eagle. Nobody did, but Freddie Haas Jr. was the winner, hitting his second shot to just four feet.
The tournament changed its finish to “sudden-death” in 1976 with the first playoff occurring in 1979 featuring a Fuzzy Zoeller win over Ed Sneed and Tom Watson. Besides Sneed, so far Dan Pohl, Greg Norman, Scott Hoch, Len Mattiace, Chris DiMarco, Chad Campbell, Kenny Perry, and Louis Oosthuizen all participated in the shortened affair, but have never worn the Green Jacket. To date it has not lasted more than two holes.
Phil Mickelson as an amateur was the first left-hander to ever shoot a sub-par round during the tournament.
In 1983, 18-year-old college student Liz Archer, on the bag for her father, 1969 Masters champion George Archer, became the first female caddie at the Masters Tournament.
In 1990, working Nick Faldo’s bag, Fanny Sunesson became the first and only female caddie to win so far at the Masters.
In 1956, Jackie Burke Jr. went to church and showed up 15 minutes before his Sunday tee time. He still won by a single shot as Ken Venturi had a disaster of a round (80) under very trying, windy conditions.
The fewest rounds under par in a Masters was 32 in 1956.
In 2020 during the first round, 53 players bettered par eclipsing the 2009 mark of 38. Soft, warm, windless conditions and slower greens made this possible in the November.
During his eight-year term as President, Ike Eisenhower visited the Club 29 times and played 210 rounds.
One of Augusta’s famous landmarks is Ike’s Pond, located on holes 8 and 9 of the Par-3 course. The pond was named after Dwight Eisenhower, who made the suggestion to add a pond on the property.
At the 1971 Masters, Clifford Roberts suggested that Ben Crenshaw get a haircut — and he did.
While competitors get a pass for using their cell phones at Augusta, they are not permitted for patrons. Fortunately the club has been one of the few places in the world that still provides access to pay phones.
In 2014 20-year old Jordan Spieth became the youngest player to finish second as he also led the field in greens hit in regulation and was the best in the field putting from outside 20′. The next year in 2015, he replaced Rory McIlroy as the youngest first-round leader with an 8-under 64, his first tournament round under 70 at Augusta National. He followed that up with a second-round of 66 to break Raymond Floyd’s 39-year 36-hole record by a shot, the 54-hole mark, and tied Tiger Woods’ tournament total of 270. In 2020, Dustin Johnson broke the 72-hole record at -20 under par and a five-stroke victory.
The bunker to the right side of the 15th green is courtesy of Ben Hogan who made the suggestion in 1957 to keep players from bailing out to the right side of the green.
In 1981, the Augusta National greens were switched from bermuda grass to bentgrass.
Just past the 11th tee there’s a private outhouse for players only during The Masters.
Augusta National member Phil Harison was the tournament’s first-tee announcer for more than 50 years and coined the phrase “Fore please, now driving.”
A record five international amateur players contested for the 2015 title.
Masters Champion then 73-year old Billy Casper owned the highest 18-hole score of 106 in he first round of 2005. Although it is unofficial, his round included a 14 (also an unofficial worst score) on the par 3 16th, with five balls in the water. Casper did not hand in his card and as a result was disqualified, so the round does not stand in the official tournament statistics. Following his round, Casper said: “I was only going to play 18 holes – I just had to get it out of my system. I wanted to do it again. A lot of my grandchildren were here.” Among ‘official’ scores is a 95 by Charles Kunkle in the final round of the 1956 Championship.
Most tournament starts before winning belongs to Sergio Garcia who claimed the title in his 19th attempt.
If you want to see an ace, the Par-3 offers an excellent chance as 85 have been made through 2015, including five (a record) in 2002 and 2015. The 4th hole had four in 2015 including one by Jack Nicklaus.
Course founder Bobby Jones and David Toms are the only players to birdie the par-3 fourth hole three times in one event.
In 2003, Scott Verplank birdied the par-three 12th all four days.
1987 Masters Champion Larry Mize was a hometown boy who used to work the leaderboards at the tournament in the morning so he could go out and watch his idol Jack Nicklaus in the afternoon. The final round in 1986, Mize matched Nicklaus’ final round of 65 which got him into the Top 24 and the next year Nicklaus placed the Green Jacket on him. In 2020, Mize would open his tourney with a fine score of 70.
Jack Nicklaus remains the only player to register two eagles on a par-4, let alone the same hole when he holed out his approach shots in the first and third rounds in 1995 on the fifth hole, the most difficult hole on the outgoing nine.
The tradition of the “Honorary Starter” began in 1963 when Fred McLeod and Jock Hutchison were named. There have been many years without an honorary starter and in 1983 Ken Venturi hit the honorary first tee shot.
The children of badge holders between the ages of 8 and 16 are admitted free of charge. While beer has been increased to $5, the pimento sandwiches remain at $1.50.
Curiously during Masters Week you will be hard-pressed to find a pine cone under the pines or birds flying around. Supposedly people are hired to pick up the pine cones and CBS Television provides birds singing.
In 2014 Fred Couples bypassed Gary Player for the most consecutive cuts made with 24. During the 3rd round of play marked the best scoring with 80 strokes under par by the field including three rounds of 8-under par 64’s.
Jimmy Demaret was the first three-time winner gaining his titles in 1940, 1947, and 1950 among his 31 Tour victories.
Masters winners are welcome to return to Augusta National to play the course with a guest, but they still have to be joined by a member.
1985 proved a Family Affair for the Goalby-Haas Family. Three members played in the tourney and all three played together in a practice round. Included were 1968 Master champion Bob Goalby, nephew touring pro Jay Haas, and his brother, Jerry. Jerry had qualified by finishing as a semi-finalist in the 1984 U.S. Amateur and acquitted himself very well. Not only did Jerry make the 36-hole cut, but he finished tied for 31st as an amateur. Brother Jay finished 5th only 3 shots behind winner Bernhard Langer, while Uncle Bob missed the cut.
It was Alister Mackenzie who first suggested a short (“approach and putt”) Par-3 course for Augusta National in 1932. He envisioned nine holes that would total 400-500 yards in length. Clifford Roberts, one of the two founders of the club, was enthusiastic; Bobby Jones, the other, was not. The actual Par-3 course, roughly twice as long, was built in 1958 in the eastern corner Mackenzie originally had in mind (marked “Reserved For Park” on the 1932 architectural plans). It was designed by Roberts and George W. Cobb, a prolific designer of courses in the South.
On October 23, 1983 while President Ronald Reagan was visiting and playing the Club with his Secretary of State (and member) George Shultz, a local disgruntle gunman named Charles Harris crashed the gates and took five persons hostage demanding to see the Reagan who was on the 16th green at the time. He held the hostages in the pro shop for two hours before Secret Service agents subdued him.
Until 1982, contestants were required to employ an Augusta National caddy. After that, they were allowed to bring their own if they desired. Most today bring their own.
In 1967, The Masters initiated the first international live sports broadcast when the BBC sent the signals abroad.
The last time that a winner was not in the Top 10 after 36 holes was Jack Nicklaus in 1986.
In 2014 Craig and Kevin Stadler became the first Father & Son combination to play in the same Masters.