The Masters Tournament
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April marks a significant time on every golfer?s calendar, and for one reason only: The Masters Tournament. The event is one of the four prestigious majors in the golf world, and fans eagerly await it every year. Being the most traditional event in the history of the sport, the Masters follows its own set of rules and guidelines separate from regular golf events. Explore with us the longstanding history of the Masters and its enriching traditions.
History of the Masters Tournament and its Origin
The first Masters Tournament was held in 1934, two years after it opened for play. Back then, the event was called the Augusta National Invitation Tournament. At the end of an epic battle, Horton Smith beat Craig Wood by a stroke to win the first edition of the Augusta event!
The biggest change to the major came in 1939, when the event was rebranded as the Masters Tournament. For years, Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones debated over the name, with the former suggesting it be called the Masters because the "masters of golf" played in it. Jones, on the other hand, thought it was quite immodest until he finally caved in five years after the first tournament.
One word differentiated the Augusta Major from the rest of the golf events and majors: tradition. The Masters is not just filled with history but also with religiously followed customs that make it one of the most intriguing and exciting golf events of the year.
The Augusta National Golf Club and its significance in the golfing world
Augusta was founded by Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones in 1932. Jones teamed up with Alister MacKenzie, and together they designed the historic venue. A native of Georgia, Jones wanted to create a world-class golf course, and he picked out the 365-acre site in Augusta for his project.
Unlike many other clubs with multiple courses, Augusta has only 27 holes. The 18-hole championship course and the 9-hole par-3 course, both are famous for their own tournaments. Aside from that, the historic club is also home to famous spots like the Crows Nest and the Eisenhower Tree. The Masters course is its most notable feature, and it draws fans to it like moths to a flame!
Amen Corner is yet another special feature of the course. It refers to the area that encompasses holes 11, 12, and 13. These three holes are regarded? as the most difficult at the Augusta National. It gets its name from a 1958 Sports Illustrated article by Herbert Warren Wind. He in turn drew inspiration from the song ?Shoutin' in that Amen Corner? by Mildred Bailey and the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra.
The several traditions associated with the Masters Tournament and Augusta National
Tradition is the most commonly used word when describing the Masters, and while it may sound like a clich?, it is one filled with truth. With several customs, the event stands out as the home of golf. The most important customs and features at the event are as follows:
The Green Jacket: Every year, the champion of the major receives more than just a trophy. He takes home the coveted green jacket. The first jacket was awarded to Sam Snead in 1949 after he won the event. And since then, the tradition of the victor being awarded with the green jacket has continued.
The jackets represent the spirit of Augusta, and the champions are made to wear them so that they stand apart from the crowd. Roberts drew this idea from when the Masters officials began wearing green to distinguish them as "reliable sources of information" in a crowd.
The Champions Dinner: One of the most exciting traditions at the Masters is the champions dinner. Every year on the eve of the beginning of the tournament, all the past champions gather for a dinner that is organized by the defending champion. It is one of the most coveted customs of the event, and it first began in 1952, and has been followed since.
The Par 3 Contest: Preceding the first round of the Masters, on Wednesday, the par 3 contest is held. It first began in 1960 as a way to keep the fans more engaged, but soon it evolved into one of the most enthralling customs at Augusta.
The contest is played over nine holes at par 27, with the player with the lowest score being declared the winner at the end of the match. The participating pros and past champions take the par-3 tournament field and are joined by their families, who are allowed to caddie for them. And even play holes at times!
The Eisenhower Tree: Located just off the 17th fairway, the Eisenhower Tree is Augusta?s most famous loblolly pine. It was named after the American President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, who once hit into it while playing and lobbied to have it removed! Unfortunately, in 2014, after sustaining heavy damage during an ice storm, the tree was removed.
The Drive, Chip, and Putt: In 2013, the USGA, the PGA of America, and the Masters put together the first Drive, Chip, and Putt - a free nationwide junior golf development competition, to grow the game by focusing on the sport's three fundamental skills. From ages 7 to 15, boys and girls can participate in the tournament, and those who qualify through the rounds make it to the National Finals held at Augusta the Sunday before the Masters.
Skipping balls: During the practice rounds every year, at the 16th hole, a.k.a. ?Redbud,? fans cheer for golfers and urge them on to try and skip their ball on the water of the pond at the hole and get it to land on the greens.
Honorary Starters: The Masters is all about celebrating history, and this tradition that began in 1963 does just that. On Thursday, the older golfers who no longer compete in the event start the tournament by striking golf balls early in the morning on Thursday. Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod were the first honorary founders, and ever since the custom has been followed.
The Crows Nest: One of Augusta?s most iconic historical places on the property is the Crow?s Nest. It is located on the second floor of the clubhouse at Augusta National. From golf books to art works on the wall, the five-person accommodation provides a unique experience for the amateurs staying there.
The Champions Locker Room: 1978 saw the introduction of the Champions Locker Room. As the name suggests, it is the locker room for the past winner of the event. Every winner has a locker in the room, and it?s not just for show either. Every year, the past champions competing at Augusta use that locker room!
The most successful golfers in Masters history and their accomplishments
The golf legend, Jack Nicklaus, is both the most decorated major winner as well as the most accomplished Masters winner in the history of the event. With six wins to his name, the ?Golden Bear? made history at the course in 1986, where he won for the last time. At the age of 46 years and 82 days, he became the oldest golfer to take home the trophy.
No golfer has ever won three Green Jackets in a row, but Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Sir Nick Faldo have all won back-to-back Masters, with Woods? being the most recent in 2001 and 2002. Woods? first Masters win in 1997 was also history, for he then became the youngest ever professional to win the Green Jacket, at 21 years and 104 days.
The economic impact of the Masters Tournament on Augusta, Georgia, and the surrounding area
The Masters is undoubtedly Augusta National?s highlight of the year. For that one week in April, everything in Augusta is booming. In 2022, Forbes calculated exactly how much the event made for the course, and it stood at a whopping $141 million.
This includes the revenue from merchandise and TV rights. And despite giving its domestic broadcasting rights for free and pricing badges ($75 for practice rounds, $115 for single-day competitive round passes, and $375 for the entire four-day event) and concessions (capped at $25) at a very affordable rate, the event seems to make quite a bit for itself.
But the Masters doesn?t just make things good for Augusta National; it also helps out the entire city of Augusta. Seeing as to how big the event is, during April every year, both the tourism and the economy of the city witness a rapid increase. Local business and even employment boom during that time of the year.
The hospitality sector flourishes, with hotels and houses for rent being fully booked by April. Dr. Marsha Loda, an associate marketing professor at Augusta University?s Hull College of Business, calculated the monetary impact on the city in 2021 to be close to $120 million, with Richmond County collecting nearly $1.4 million in hotel-motel tax during the month.
It's clear that the Masters is more than just a major championship in golf. It?s a sensation.