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.
When was the last competitive appearance of Bobby Jones at the Masters? The year was 1948 and Jones was 46, the same age as when Jack Nicklaus won his last Masters. Jones shot 315 with a final round 79. A year later Jones was diagnosed with syringomyelia, a painful and debilitating spinal disease.
When did the Masters introduce a 36-hole cut? 1957.
There is some good fishing on the golf course with the 16th apparently loaded with bass, though players are forbidden to talk about it. Also Ike’s Pond and Rae’s Creek in front of the 12th green are also apparently good spots.
Jack Nicklaus was the first defending Champion to miss the cut in 1967, but he made the most cuts at 37. Nicklaus has the most Top-5 finishes with 15. Nicklaus also missed his first cut in 1959 as an amateur by a single shot.
Not since Art Wall in 1959 has a winner come from outside the Top 10 after 54 holes.
The initiation fee for members at this impossibly exclusive club is currently estimated to be an unexpectedly reasonable $40,000. If you don’t receive your bill at the end of the month, you know you are no longer a member.
Actually many players have suffered trying to close out a Master victory, not just Ed Sneed, Ken Venturi, or Greg Norman. In 1950, Jim Ferrier bogied 5 of the last 6 holes to hand Jimmy Demaret his third title.
1946 Champion Herman Keiser’s son asked Fuzzie Zoeller to keep an eye on his Dad during the Champion’s Dinners. One dinner, Keiser drank a bit much and left for the bathroom, but didn’t soon return. He was found asleep on the toilet.
Did you know that the site of the par-three 12th green was originally a rock ledge? More than 5,000 cubic yards of earth was excavated on the opposite side of Rae’s Creek to cover the ledge to form what is now the green site.
In 1941, Clifford Roberts buried cables around the clubhouse and course, which allowed for communicating immediate scoring updates – far ahead of others.
As the late golf writer Charles Price wrote: “Augusta National was never the most revolutionary design in America, but it was certainly the most evolutionary.” Its list of consulting golf course architects vastly modified the original Mackenzie design. Among them was Perry Maxwell. His alterations affected no less than eleven holes with rebuilding the greens at the 1st, 1oth, and 14th holes, and establishing new greens higher up the hill at both the 7th hole and at the 10th. Additionally, he redesigned and re-bunkered the 9th and 17th greens.
Did you know that course designer Robert Trent Jones, Sr. also made two monumental changes to the course? He converted the easy 415-yard, downhill dogleg-right 11th into a fearsome longer, slight dogleg left, by adding a tee box deep in the pines behind the 10th green. He then dammed the creek to the left of the green, resulting in the pond known today. Jones also abandoned the old par-3 16th in 1947, a hole considered too short and easy and too similar to the 12th. The new tee was well to the left of the old one, the new green well to the right in an amphitheater setting and a boldly contoured putting surface. Not only did Robert Trent Jones Sr. create the ponds on 11 and 16, but he reshaped and moved the green on the par-five 13th beyond Rae’s Creek, and added the attractive bunkering around it. Clifford Roberts gave Jones no credit for the work on the 11th while some pointed to Byron Nelson, but Trent Jones firmly maintained that it was all his work.
In 1982, Augusta National solicited Jack Nicklaus on how to improve the challenge posed by left side of the 3rd hole. Nicklaus suggested adding small mounds, and breaking up a large single bunker into four smaller ones. The club agreed. However, Nicklaus felt conflicted in doing the work under his name, because he remained an active competitor in the Masters. So the club retained his associate Bob Cupp to perform the tasks. Other player consultants have included Horton Smith, Byron Nelson, and Gene Sarazen. Other contributing golf course architects included: George Cobb, George Fazio, John LaFoy, Joe Finger, and Jay Morrish while member Jack Nicklaus has undoubtedly been consulted many times. Since the late 1990’s, Tom Fazio has been intimately involved with all aspects as the course as it has been significantly lengthened with greens rebuilt and bunkers repositioned. He has twice lengthened the par-four seventh hole converting it from a splendid drive-and-pitch affair to very long test that critics maintain works only for the powerful strikers.
Today, there are 44 bunkers on the course — 32 are greenside and 12 are on the fairways.
Just past the 11th tee there’s a private restroom, for players only.
The Masters traditionally places the winners of the four preceding Major Championships and the US Amateur champion on the leader boards at the beginning of play the first round. They then play their way off the board with less than stellar scoring or remain with good play.
Tiger Woods who was the youngest Champion also holds the record for the most consecutive sub-par rounds, ten spanning from 2000-2002. This was eclipsed in 2020 by that year’s champion, Dustin Johnson, at eleven. In Johnson’s first five visits to Augusta National (2009-2014) he broke par just five times in 18 rounds and was never a factor. Best finish: T-13. Scoring average: 72.67. Jack Nicklaus has recorded the most sub-par rounds, 71, followed way back by Tom Watson with 58.
Australian Cameron Smith became the first and only player to fire all four rounds in the 60’s (67-68-69-69). He still lost by five. He finished in a tie for second with Masters rookie Sungjae Im at 15-under and five shots back of Dustin Johnson in 2020.
After television coverage of golf started in 1947, and the 17th and 18th holes of the US Open at Baltusrol where covered in 1954, Augusta National secured CBS to provide them with two and one half hours of coverage in 1956 and they buried the television cables as well.
In 1961, heavy rains finished play after ten players had completed their rounds. Despite that all the scores were erased and play resumed on Monday where Arnold Palmer had a horrendous finish making Gary Player the first international champion.
Leaders to win as of 2011, by round . . . First round: 15 of 106; Second round: 28 of 93; Third round: 42 of 86. In other words, as the saying goes, the Masters doesn’t really begin until the last nine on Sunday!
Eagle Man: In the second round of 2015, long-hitting Dustin Johnson recorded a record three eagles – two, eight, and fifteen.
The average number of starts for a first-time winner at The Masters is six. Fuzzy Zoeller was the last to win on his first bid in 1979. Tiger Woods took three starts.
Here’s a good way to finish. Mark Calcavecchia and David Toms both shot the lowest nines ever recorded in the Masters. Both were on the back nine of the final round shooting 29 in 1992 and 1998 respectively. Johnny Miller holds the front nine mark of 30 in 1975.
Largest lead lost after the third round was 6 strokes by Greg Norman, 1996, followed by 5 strokes – Ed Sneed, 1979; 4 strokes – Ken Venturi, 1956, and 4 strokes – Rory McIlroy, 2011.
Even though CBS has had broadcasting rights for The Masters since 1956, the contract is renewed annually. Negotiations are renewed each and every single year, so the Tournament could theoretically switch to a different broadcaster at anytime.
Inaugural winner Horton Smith’s Green Jacket fetched $682,000 in September, 2013.
In the tournament that 21-year old Jordan Spieth won in record fashion. His young amateur contemporaries didn’t fare so well as none made the 36-hole cut in 2015.
President Eisenhower had to be rescued by two Secret Servicemen on the 12th hole? Clifford Roberts, member Jerome Franklin, the club’s pro Ed Dudley were playing shortly after Ike had been elected President. His tee shot landed short of the green on a sand bar next to the water. Clifford Roberts said to Eisenhower, “You can play that ball off the sand bar.” The President climbed down the bank to his ball and sank past his knees in what turned out to be quicksand. Two Secret Service agents jumped in after him and pulled him out by the arms. Supposedly the match was delayed while the president went back to his cottage to change clothes. “When he returned he told Roberts that he would never again take his advice on any matter concerning golf.”
Dwight Eisenhower so loved Augusta National. In 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower had to choose between a scheduled trip to Augusta or throwing out the first pitch at the Washington Senators’ home opener. When the team realized that the President was going to choose Augusta National over the national pastime, the Senators changed their schedule.
Did you know that Padraig Harrington is a three-time winner at Augusta National? The par-three course opened in 1960 and Padraig Harrington is the only three-time winner of the Par-3 Contest (2003, 2004, 2012); in two of his “victories,” he was tied for first when play was suspended due to bad weather. Sandy Lyle (1997, 1998) and Harrington are the only back-to-back winners.
In 2014, a record six players of age fifty or older made the 36-hole cut.
The Club’s wine cellar is reputed to be the best or among the best in all of golf. It has a high tech infrared thumbprint lock only the sommelier and few others can open. It contains a crate that belonged to Clifford Roberts and is off limits to all.
“Fear The Beard”… Dustin Johnson became the first fully bearded player to win in 2020.
Ben Hogan (age 54 in 1967, third round), Fred Couples (age 50 in 2010, first round), and Miguel Angel Jimenez (age 50 in 2014, third round) share the best 18-hole score by someone fifty or over.
Augusta National Member Jeff Knox holds the Augusta National course record of 61 from the Member’s Tees in 2003. As a marker, he plays when the field has an odd number of players has reportedly beat playing partners Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia. A former University of Georgia player, he has also played with Bubba Watson and Ernie Els.
Long drive, two-man best ball, and other pre-tournament competitions were held prior to the introduction of the par-three contest.
Tiger Woods’ historic 2019 win marked the longest period between wins – 14 years eclipsing Gary Player by a year.
Lee Elder won the 1974 Monsanto Open and, in 1975, became the first African American to play in the Masters. The club admitted its first black member, Ron Townsend, in 1990. Elder was named as an Honorary Starter for 2021 before passing away later in the year.
Founders Circle is located at the base of the flagpole in front of the Clubhouse. It has two plaques there honoring the Masters’ founders, Bob Jones and Clifford Roberts.
There are reportedly a total of 27 kitchens on the property including a members-only one out of view to the left of the par-three 4th hole.
The lowest amateur score remains the 7-under par shot by Charlie Coe in 1961 when he finished tied with Arnold Palmer for second, one shot behind winner, Gary Player.
The big live oak tree on the course side of the clubhouse is a place where the “Who’s Who” in golf annually mix. It is estimated to be more than 150 years old having been planted around 1855. The trees on Magnolia Lane are estimated to be older than 160 years.
Gary Player was the first foreign winner in 1961.
During the 1973 Master, J.C. Snead was battling Tommy Aaron with his Uncle Sam Snead watching the telecast in the clubhouse. While J.C. was playing the par-three 12th, Uncle Sam correctly predicted his nephew didn’t have the right club and would knock the tee shot into Rae’s Creek. J.C. did just that and lost to Aaron by a single shot.
In winning in 1973, Tommy Aaron’s final-round playing partner, Johnny Miller, wrote down the wrong score on Aaron’s card. Aaron caught the mistake before he signed it.
No amateur has ever won though Ken Venturi was one of three who came close. Despite a final round 80, he finished second to Jack Burke, Jr. by a single shot in 1956. Burke came from a whopping eight shots back to win with a one-over par 289 total. Venturi’s 66 still ranks as the lowest round shot by an amateur.
Although not unprecedented, a two-tee start to begin the tournament was never instituted until the 2020 event. Then because of the shorter November daylight hours, it remained for the entire event.
In 1999, TV golf personality Brandel Chamblee played in his first and last Masters. He shot an opening round 69 to share the first-round lead playing with that year’s eventual champion Jose Maria Olazabal. Coming to the 72nd hole, Chamblee hit a downwind drive, and a sand wedge to just two feet from the hole for a birdie. Knowing he needed the putt to make the Low-16 and be invited back, he missed and sadly never returned as a player.
The idea for the Green Jackets was for Members to wear them so that patrons during the tournament could readily identify them as a source for information. New York’s Brooks Uniform Company provided them.
There have only ever been four untied wire-to-wire winners. They were Craig Wood (1941), Arnold Palmer (1960), Jack Nicklaus (1972), and Raymond Floyd (1976).
For the first time in modern majors history, in 2020 the top-ranked #1, #2, and #3 players in the world were tied for the lead at the 36-hole mark (Dustin Johnson, John Rahm, Justin Thomas).
Greg Norman owns the best first round score of 33-30, 63 in 1996.
Alistair Mackenzie and Bobby Jones originally designed the course to have thirty-six bunkers, but upon Mackenzie’s input had that number reduced to twenty-two with the 7th, 15th, and 17th holes having no bunkers. Now the 14th hole is the only bunkerless hole on the course.
Jack Nicklaus won six times but in an oversight never received his Green Jacket until 1998 when he informed Chairman Jack Stephens of such. The Club immediately remedied that. Champions receive only one jacket regardless of multiple wins and they can only be worn on Club property.
What do Clifford Roberts, William Lane, Hord Hardin, Jack Stephens, William (Hootie) Johnson, Billy Payne, and Fred Ridley have in common? All have served as Chairman of the Club. Ridley, however, is a former U.S. Amateur champion.
When referring to Augusta National personalities, who would The Colonel be? The colonel was Bobby Jones’s father, Robert Purmedus Jones. He was a lawyer from Atlanta and could play to a handicap of about eight.
Bob Jones was a renown sportsman, but he was not colorless. In a match against Walter Hagen, he smoked 75 cigarettes. Before tournaments suffered from nervousness and was prone to regular vomiting. A heavy drinker, he favored moonshine, bourbon, and martinis. He was also known to curse up a storm, but only in “appropriate company.”
As a former nursery, much was imported. The massive distinctive live oaks behind the clubhouse aren’t indigenous to the region, but were likely imported from the Georgia coast in the mid-1850s. Also unusual is the tangled wisteria vine that clings to the clubhouse, thought to be among the first ever in the U.S., and a hard-to-spot palm tree short and right of the green at the par-3 4th, a hole that was called “Palm” in its early days.
“Best Champion’s Dinner Pep Talk” goes to Gary Player helping Jose Maria Olazabal. It was 1999 and Player questioned Olazabal about his confidence. Sidetracked by a debilitating foot injury, the Spaniard admitted it was low. Player squatted down and broke into a lengthy pep talk. “Look at me,” he said. “Believe in yourself.” Player repeated the words several times with growing conviction. Inspired, Olazábal won his second Masters that week when most considered his career finished. “He went from a man who said he couldn’t make a cut to winning, which made me feel good,” Player recalled.
Augusta National members are only to wear their green jackets on the club property. One member was said to have consumed too much alcohol and headed home in his jacket. He woke up the next morning realizing his mistake and immediately flew his private jet to New York to apologize to then Chairman Clifford Roberts in New York City. When he introduced himself to the doorman at Robert’s office, he was denied. “Mister Roberts is only receiving members of Augusta today!”
Another longtime member was also seen sporting his jacket off site. He was dismissed, but at the next Masters, when volunteer duties were distributed, the member was assigned trash collection.
In 1998, Jack Nicklaus as the age of 58 tied for 6th place.
Besides, Ken Venturi and Charlie Coe, North Carolinian Billy Joe Patton first came closest to winning The Masters as an amateur in 1954. He birdied the ninth hole all four days and had a hole-in-one on the sixth, but hit into the water at both the 13th and 15th holes during the final round to finish a mere shot behind Ben Hogan and eventual champion Sam Snead.
Amateurs have long played an important component, but few could have predicted that in 2013, a 14-year old from China, Guan Tianlang, would qualify via a win in the Asian Amateur Championship (one of six ways that year to qualify as an amateur), let alone be the sole amateur to make the 36-hole cut and become low amateur as well as the youngest ever to make the cut. He did that despite incurring a 1-stroke penalty for slow play on his 35th hole. Amazingly he did not have a single double-bogey or three-putt green the entire 72 holes!
The par-three sixth hole is the only hole on the course that actually plays shorter now than when the golf course opened. It also had a creek that was expanded into a pond and then completely covered over.
The lowest tournament score ever posted by a first-year player was not recorded by a winner, but rather by Toshi Izawa, 2001 with a 10-under par 278 until Jason Day recorded a 12-under total in 2011.
Charles Coe in 1961 was the first amateur to shoot all four rounds at par or better. Coe finished in a tie for second that year, one stroke behind Gary Player. It was not until 2019 that an amateur again played par or better for all four round. Viktor Hovland, the 2018 U.S. Amateur champion finished at three under par (72-71-71-71—285) to win by a stroke over 2019 Latin America Amateur champion Alvaro Ortiz (73-71-73-69—286) to tie for 36th. Hovland also finished tied for 4th in greens in regulation hit.
Esteemed golf course architect, Donald Ross, was considered a leading candidate to design the course, but when Dr. Alistair Mackenzie was chosen, Ross was very disappointed. Having redesigned the highly acclaimed adjacent Augusta Country Club, he hoped and expected to get the assignment.
Heading into 2012, the all-time toughest holes during the Masters are #1, the par-four tenth followed by the par-three twelfth, and the par-four eleventh. You can also assume that par is a very coveted score on the par-three fourth and the short par-four third is very under-rated. Recently, the par-four at five and seven have moved to the forefront.
Fast finishers: Charl Schwartzel birdied the last four holes in 2011 to win by two, but in 1959 Art Wall birdied five of the last six holes to win. In 1992, Mark Calcavecchia birdied the last 6 holes in the final round to finish a back nine tally of 7-under par 29 and tie for 32nd!
During the Par-3 Contest Jim Gallagher, Jr. was so nervous that on the 8th hole he hit his shot on the bank by the water and took off his wrong shoe before stepping into the water to play the shot. The putting surfaces for the Wednesday event are groomed to approximate the same speeds as the course for tournament play so it helps tune the players up.
During the 1969 Masters Miller Barber hit no less than eleven balls into the water. Think he missed the cut? Think again. He only finished three shots behind winner George Archer. On the 13th, his approaches hit the green every day only to bound off into the water and the same thing happened on the 15th. The first three days his shots hit the green and came back into the pond. The final round Barber was not going to be short. He hit extra club, but the shot hit a sprinkler head just over the green and rolled into the pond beyond. The only shot that actually splashed was his hook on the 16th of the final round, all the others only trickled in. Had they stayed dry, Barber would have won by ten shots!
You won’t find ball washers at Augusta National. The caddies are there for that.
In recent year and continuing, it has been the practice of mowing the fairways toward the tee boxes. This has the effect of lessening the roll and making the holes play longer, but also effectively widening the fairways because the ball doesn’t roll as much to the second cut.
You do not have to play in the Masters—or even have been invited to play—to take part in the Par-3 Contest. All past champions of the US Open, British Open, PGA Championship, US Amateur, and British Amateur are honorary invitees to Augusta every spring, welcome to attend and play in the Contest, but not in the Masters itself. Jerry Pate is the only such invitee to win the Par-3 Contest (2005).
According to Clifford Roberts, Mamie Eisenhower was the only wife of a member who has been permitted to stay overnight on the grounds during the Club’s five annual stag parties. And Roberts happily stated that there was never a single complaint about it.
Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Champions Tour player John Harris have been the only professional golfers who are members. And you cannot apply to be a member; you can only be invited. Member Dwight Eisenhower had a desk and dial phone that still sits upstairs in the library.
On the final round of his first Masters, Arnold Palmer shot the best round of the day though he was told he wouldn’t do well there because he didn’t hit the ball high enough. He would win four times.
Dwight Eisenhower is the only U.S. President who has been extended membership. There were no woman members until Darla Moore and Condoleezza Rice were admitted in 2012.
The scoreboard behind the seventh green is the only double-sided one on the golf course with the other side visible from the 17th hole. It is 15′ wide and 65′ long with a grated floor and is roofless. This means that its 13 volunteers must work there in all sorts of conditions and must ladders inside to post scores.
In 2015, sprigs of the fallen Eisenhower Tree were given to all former Champions in a box engraved with their name and the date(s) of their victory. Two cross-sections of the tree were also on display. One is at the Augusta National Golf Club and the other is destined for the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas. Meanwhile three seedlings are being nurtured from the tree for possible future use.
Augusta National does not have a course rating, simply because the membership doesn’t want one. In March 1991, when the United States Golf Association was trying to standardize handicaps and implement its Slope system, Golf Digest formed a team during the first round of the Masters to walk the course and develop an evaluation. The team came up with a course rating of 76.2, which was in the top 10 nationally at the time.
Did you know that theme song you hear over and over during the broadcast is the creation of Dave Loggins? Dave is the third cousin of Kenny Loggins, who did the theme song for the golfing classic, the movie Caddyshack.
No player comes close to the Masters dominance exhibited by Jack Nicklaus with 6 wins, 15 top 5s, 22 top 10s, and 29 top 25s. Hogan had 2 victories, 9 top 5s, and 17 top 10s. Nicklaus also had the most eagles with 24 while Raymond Floyd had 22. Nicklaus also has the lowest 72-hole score recorded by a player over fifty – 5-under par 283 in 1998 at age 58. He also currently has the most career birdies during the tournament with 506!
Jones and Roberts initiated the practice of denying anyone except the players and caddies to be inside the playing area by employing ropes and they also eliminated playing 36 holes on the final day of competition as was customary at that time. They also provided a complimentary pairing sheet and spectator booklet to all patrons.
The press building was first built in 1953. Keeping Augusta National in the forefront, Clifford Roberts had introduced small towers and platforms for photographers before World War II.
Two items you will find plenty of during The Masters are pine straw and pimento sandwiches. Aiken, South Carolina native, Nick Rangos, can take credit for the original mystery recipe dating back to the mid-1970s., When the Club switched to another for their sandwich product in 2004, Nick Rangos took his secret recipe with him. The cost for one remains an amazing $1.50 and it’s wrapped in green lest one gets caught in the wind.
2015 winner Jordan Spieth bypassed Phil Mickelson record for the most number of birdies in the tournament of 25 in 2001 with 28 of his own.
Craig Wood finished runner-up in the first two tournaments and then opened the third event with a horrible 88 only to bounce back by twenty-one shots the next day with a 67. He eventually finished fifteen shots back, but would win five years later in 1941.
The Masters originated the concept of red scoring number on scoreboards to represent under-par figures.
The present seventeenth hole was originally designed as a bunkerless hole. Today, its two greenside bunkers, particularly the front one, strongly influence play.
The big round Loblolly just up the left side of the 17th hole that intrudes into the fairway area is called “Ike’s Tree” because he hit it so often. He twice lobbied hard within the club to have it removed, but his request was ignored by Clifford Roberts. Presidential privilege only goes so far. It was destroyed by a 2014 storm.
Steve Pate, 1999 third round, and Tiger Woods, 2005 third round, share the record for the most birdies in a row with seven while Anthony Kim had the most in a round with 11 in the second round in 2009. Interestingly, the late member, Dr. Val Hastings, matched that record in a casual round with birdies from 10 through 16, and bogeyed the 18th to shoot a back-nine 30.
Two non-winners Nick Price and Greg Norman share the course record with 9-under par 63s. In Price’s round he started with a bogey and finished with a “horseshoe lip-out.”
Augusta National members have a private viewing room from which to watch television during the tournament. It’s located in small apartment above the pro shop.
Professionals who play but miss the cut are still provided $10,000.
Despite the large gathering of people during The Masters, the restrooms are impeccable. Each group of restrooms is outfitted with 3-5 people cleaning stalls as they are used. It is also one of those rare occurrences in which the lines are much longer for men than they are for women.
Did you know that many of the championship tee boxes that were utilized for first seventy plus years were wiped out and blended into the landscape during recent course-lengthening revisions? Their locations have, however, been recorded by the Club for posterity.
In 1963, Augusta National limited tickets for The Masters for the first time. That’s a far cry from the estimated 1,000 patrons a day who watched the 1934 event. In 1968, requests for tickets exceeded the supply allotted and in 1975, the demand was five times the allotment with the Club closing the waiting list for badges in 1978. And no, badges cannot be willed when the owner passes though after the death of a badge holder, the account is transferable only to a surviving spouse and cannot be transferred to other family members.
There are 10 cabins on the grounds available to members and their guests for lodging – at very reasonable prices akin to the area’s moderate hotels. However, during club events seniority means something. There are about 100 beds on property. One year, new member Bill Gates was too low on the seniority list to get one and was observed checking into the local Red Roof Inn.
The original Par-3 Course did not extend over Ike’s Pond, the fishpond created at the suggestion of General Dwight Eisenhower in 1949. The current 8th and 9th holes, which cross Ike’s Pond in opposite directions, were added by Tom Fazio in 1987; the Par-3 Course now begins on what was originally its third hole.
Each hole is named after a resident tree or shrub. In 1994, 80,000 patrons attended the practice rounds. In 1995, the first year of the lottery for practice-round tickets, the club received 250,000 applications.
In 1983, Harukanaru Augusta was the first 8-bit video game to feature Augusta National.
Birdie-fest: In 2015, Sunday’s final round reportedly produced the lowest scoring average of any round in the history of the Masters – a nifty 70.91 until eclipsed in 2020 with soft windless conditions.
From 1987 though 1994, international players dominated with Fred Couples in 1992 being the only American to win.
The plastic cups emblazoned with The Masters logo are popular item. In addition to your beer or soda, you can get a drink with your souvenir. You’ll often see people dumpster diving for these gems.
Professional golfer, Jim Dent, an Augusta native and Paine College alumnus, participated in his first Masters when he was 15 — as a caddie. He would later record 16 professional victories, 12 of those on the Champions Tour. He caddied at both the Augusta Country Club and “The National.”
In 1948, Claude Harmon who was largely known as the club professional at both Winged Foot and Seminole had a career week. Not only did he capture his only significant professional victory, but the father of four famous teaching sons (including Butch Harmon) tied the tournament record of 279 and his five-stroke victory over Cary Middlecoff was the largest winning margin at the time.
Bobby Jones won the 1930 Southeast Open at the adjoining Augusta Country Club where he was also a member. Formerly known as the Bon Air Golf Club, this was Jones’ first victory of his Grand Slam year. This club predated Augusta National by thirty-three years and originally had 36-holes. Donald Ross came in in 1924 to redesign its Hill Course that has subsequently survived and is an outstanding layout in its own right. Its ninth hole is located behind Augusta National’s twelfth green and thirteen tee area.
Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, and Tom Weiskopf each finished runner-up tour times. Raymond Floyd, and Tom Kite finished second three times. Of those, only Weiskopf, Norman, and Kite never won.
Gary Player’s Masters Jacket is the only one on display and it can be viewed the The World Golf Hall of Fame outside of Jacksonville, Florida. Supposedly he kept “forgetting” to bring it back as all other Champions have done.
Clifford Roberts, failing with terminal cancer, went out to the par-three course one autumn evening in 1977 and shot himself in the head. Like Jones, Roberts served as a political and financial advisor to fellow member, President Dwight Eisenhower. Roberts ended his life near a service road running over the dam that created Ike’s Pond, south of the existing Par-3 course. His ashes are buried on the property at an undisclosed location.
The Eisenhower Cabin was built in the early 1950s after Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s election as United States President. It cost $75,000 to build and was built to specs provided by the Secret Service, since it was built specifically for the President and Mrs. Eisenhower. Bigger than it looks, it’s three floors and six bedrooms. It is one of the ten residential cabins for use of its national membership.
Jeans are not explicitly listed as a no-no on the dress code for patrons, but it’s an understood rule. In the throng of thousands, you will see very few. Patrons are not permitted to wear their hats backwards. And caddies must wear the Club’s official white uniforms – – green hat with a white jumpsuit. Patrons may bring collapsible chairs, but they may not have armrests, and running is strictly not allowed.
Eisenhower spent many days at the Club and according to the late Ralph Hutchison’s stories and documents, actually personally consulted with Bobby Jones to review important state and defense policy drafts regarding the Korean War.
The Butler Cabin is probably the best-known of the cabins as it is used by CBS to headquarter their telecast and also for the previous year’s champion to present the Green Jacket to the new champion in a brief ceremony. It was built in 1964 and named after Thomas Butler, an Augusta National member of the time. and was first used by CBS in 1965.
Did you know it was golf course architect Perry Maxwell, who relocated the 10th green some 50 yards up a hill and to the right and changed the par-four 7th to a shallow elevated surface guarded by bunkers in the front and rear. Both changes made the course much more difficult.
Three weeks after the 1968 Masters that Bob Goalby rightly won because Roberto De Vincenzo did not sign a correct scorecard, Roberto won the Houston Champions International tournament. Jack Tuthill was tournament director for the PGA Tour and was on-site. He said that De Vicenzo left the scoring tent without signing his card; the penalty was disqualification. Tuthill struggled with himself at that moment, because on one hand there was the letter of the law, while on the other was the unholy mess that would arise if Roberto was DQ’d by, of all things, another scorecard incident. What do he do? Jack Tuthill searched for Roberto, found him and brought him back to sign his card.
Many players claim that the difference in speed between the fringes and the putting surfaces is as great as anywhere they have experienced terming the fringes “sticky” with the greens very, very fast. This is especially hazardous when you have to chip toward the water.
Augusta National has several pretty good fishing spots. The Par 3 course is loaded with water filled with bass and bream. The best place to fish on the Par 3 course is Ike’s Pond, a body of water that was the idea of the former president. Rae’s Creek, which fronts the par-three 12th is brimming with bream and is a favorite fishing spot for caddies while the par-three 16th hole is filled with bass.
The property has a series of tunnel access for service and delivery vehicles as to discreetly come and go without notice of the members and guests.
Jack Nicklaus was the first defending champion to miss the cut in 1967. (There was no cut until 1957.)
Augusta is the home of the World’s two largest golf cart manufacturers, E-Z-GO and Club Car, and is the second oldest and second largest city in Georgia, the home of the oldest newspaper in the South, The Augusta Chronicle, home of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, and the birthplace of Amy Grant, Laurence Fishburne, Danny Glover, Ray Mercer, Hulk Hogan, and Larry Mize, and for many years was the home of baseball legend Ty Cobb.
Eight players have won three or more Masters. They are: Jack Nicklaus 6, Tiger Woods 5, Arnold Palmer 4, with Jimmy Demaret, Sam Snead, Gary Player, Nick Faldo, and Phil Mickelson having three each. On eight occasions a participant has followed a second-place finish with a victory the next year. They have been Jack Nicklaus (twice), Ralph Guldahl, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Gay Brewer, Billy Casper, and Ben Crenshaw.
In 1969, no former Champions managed to finish in the Top 20.
Augusta member Phil Harison, was the tournament’s first-tee announcer for more than 50 years and coined the phrase “Fore please, now driving.”
In 1937 Augusta played host to the first PGA Seniors Championship. It played a decisive role in creating what years later would evolve into the Champions Tour. The Seniors Division of the PGA was established at a meeting of the older professionals held at an Augusta hotel. The course held the tournament for two years — the winners being Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod respectively — before it found a sponsor and moved to Florida.
You can’t bring your phone or a camera into the course during the tournament. Cameras are allowed on practice days. Should you disobey this or the other rules, your tickets will likely be revoked forever.
In 2013 Berckmans Place (BP for short) debuted for $6,000 per ticket. (It cost about $10,000 by 2021.) Located just off the 5th fairway with their own Gate 9 and parking lot, this is the ultimate hospitality area for corporate guests (limit 10 entrants per client) with three restaurants, Calamity Jane’s, Ike’s place and Mackenzie’s. Each has a menu of 25-30 items along with a variety of alcohol – and all is free. Greeters in 2013 included Condoleeza Rice and ex-football player Lynn Swann. There are also three greens, downsized replicas of the 7th, 14th and 16th holes. The cups are moved to match each day’s location. So you watch a guy hit a putt on a certain hole on one of the 50 or 60 giant TVs, then you can go try it yourself with a caddie no less. The BP facility is so exquisitely landscaped, you don’t even know there’s a golf course nearby. A short path, graced with blooming azaleas, leads patrons to the fifth fairway.
Did you know that the trees, flowers, greens and shrubs are hand watered to prevent excessive run off? There are 55 acres to the left of the 11th hole to provide a wildlife habitat and home to 1000’s of migratory birds and the club has an ongoing reforestation project. The parking lot is left unpaved to prevent excessive run off and provide habitat for ground nesting birds. (Source: Ezine Articles 6102696.)
More than 350 journalists are typically on site covering the tournament. Twenty lucky members of the media are drawn at random on Saturday morning for the chance to play the course on Monday provided the tournament is not postponed and the weather is suitable. Obviously that group is tuned into the weather forecasts for the remainder of their stay. You are provided a tee time and a time to enter the property, and they will not grant you permission to enter a minute before that time. The course is set up identically to the way it was in the final round.
Until 1957 players played all four rounds at the tournament. Since the 36-hole cut was introduced the highest score ever to make the weekend rounds was 154 in 1982.
Smile, you are being watched at Augusta National. Both conventional and infrared security cameras are located in the trees and throughout the property to provide day and night surveillance. What’s more the Augusta National chairman can access the feed on a real-time basis anywhere from his cellphone.
In 2020, Tiger Woods carded a 10 on the par-three 12th hole. Though it was not the highest score ever recorded on that hole, it is remarkable for another reason. He followed this disaster by finishing with birdies on 5 of the last 6 holes (with a par included) to conclude his tournament.
Augusta National limits television advertising to four minutes per hour which in 2019 was reported to be more than $7 million per sponsor/partner. CBS’s international broadcast rights cost in 2019 were $25 million.
If a player wins more than one Masters, he does not receive a second green jacket unless his size changes considerably.
Players are provided a brand new Mercedes for the week. Golf cart drivers who are hired to drive the players around Augusta National also pick up the golfers at the airport in the Mercedes they will be using. The cars also have a number in the back window so that employees can always identify the players by which car they are in.
The last 18-hole play-off was in 1970 with fellow San Diego juniors Bill Casper beating Gene Littler.
Guests must be accompanied by members at all times while at the Club and autograph requests are forbidden.
For the price of a moderate hotel room, members and guests can stay in one of the 10 cabins on the grounds of Augusta National.
The Crow’s Nest is a relatively spartan 30-by-40-foot room atop the clubhouse available as living quarters for as many as five amateurs during The Masters. There are four bedrooms partitioned off, a games table and a television. Jack Nicklaus, Tommy Aaron, Tom Watson, Ben Crenshaw, Craig Stadler, Mark O’Meara, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are among those who stayed there as amateurs and would eventually become winners.
The Masters is the only major golf tournament in which the yardage of each hole is rounded off to end in “5” or “0.” Clifford Roberts felt that an exact yardage was not relevant because the movement of tee markers and pin positions for each round changed the distance. The course is listed at 7,510 yards (2022). The Member’s Tees are a relatively benign 6,365 yards.
Those broadcasters must follow strict rules dictated by the Club’s decorum. Saying words such as “Fans” or “Spectators” is not allowed. They must be called “Patrons” or “Gallery.”
Members are not permitted to discuss club affairs or policies in public. It is a condition of joining the club, and those who violate the policy risk expulsion.
The Masters now is the most viewed golf tournament in the world, broadcast in more than 200 countries. But it wasn’t always that way. When it was televised for the first time in 1956, all CBS stations within a 200-mile radius of the club were blacked out from showing the tournament to help with ticket sales. The blackout was lifted in 1969.
In 2021, Hideki Matsuyama would become the first Japanese player to win.
The final event at the club before it closes for the summer is the caddie tournament, in which the club’s caddies are allowed to golf for free and play as many holes as possible for the entire day.
In recent years, the club has acquired an estimated $55 million in real estate surrounding its courses, clubhouse and cabins, creating a bigger buffer zone to insulate its members, and to better control the Masters experience. They are considering building a hotel to house Masters participants.
When the golf course is playing “fast,” you never say “Good Shot!” until the ball stops rolling.
Augusta National is usually closed from the middle of May to the middle of October.