The Masters golf tournament has long been known as “the big show” for many golfers. It’s the BIG one – the one everyone wants to win – the one that can really define a career as a professional golfer. It has a long and storied history – one steeped in golf tradition.
In 1934 Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts wanted to provide a service to golf by hosting an annual golf tournament. Roberts proposed the event be called the Masters Tournament, but Jones objected thinking it sounded too presumptuous. The name Augusta National Invitation Tournament was adopted and that title was used for five years until 1939 when Jones relented and the name was officially changed.
The tournament is held at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, GA, where it is still hosted today. Many decisions made in the early days of the Masters still remain today. Among these are
* The four-day stroke playing of 18 holes each day instead of the then customary 36 holes on the third day * Eliminating qualifying rounds * Denying permission for anyone except the player and the caddie to be in the playing area * Commercialization in any form of the tournament was limited.
The first Masters Tournament was held on March 22, 1934, and beginning in 1940, the Masters was scheduled each year during the first full week in April. That first tournament was won by Horton Smith. In 1935 Gene Sarazen hit “the shot heard ‘round the world” scoring a double eagle on the par five 15th hole tying Craig Wood and forcing a playoff. Sarazen won the 36-hole playoff the following day winning by five strokes.
In 1942, Ben Hogan lost to Byron Nelson by one stroke in an 18-hole playoff and the tournament was not played the following three years: 1943, 1944, and 1945 during World War II. To assist the war efforts, cattle and turkeys were raised on the Augusta National grounds.
Many milestones have occurred throughout the history of the Masters. In 1965 and 1966, Jack Nicklaus became the first Masters champion to defend his title successfully. Many others would have consecutive wins, but The Golden Bear was the first. Tiger Woods broke the four-day scoring record that has stood for 32 years in 1997.
The Masters is characterized by offering the winner a green jacket and having that jacket is considered a great honor in the golfing world. The previous year’s winner would always present the jacket to the current year’s winner and it is done with great flourish.
The Masters is one of golf’s greatest tournaments. The best part is that amateurs can gain entry into the tournament by invitation only giving them dreams of winning the big prize against the best in the field!