With world famous course features including Amen Corner, the Eisenhower Tree and Rae’s Creek, the Masters tournament, played every April at the Augusta National Golf Course in Georgia since 1933, is a major highlight of the annual tournament calendar. Widely regarded as one of the best golf courses in the world, playing a round or two at the Augusta National is a bucket list ambition of virtually every serious golfer. Here are five fascinating facts about the Golf Masters in Augusta.
Winners of the Masters are famously awarded a green, single-breasted jacket. Club members first started wearing green jackets in 1937 so that patrons with questions would know who to ask. Winners of the tournament were first awarded green jackets in 1949. The new champion is usually helped into his jacket by the previous year's champion, but when Jack Nicklaus became the first repeat winner in 1966, he had to put it on himself. Nicklaus holds the record for the most Masters wins, having worn the green jacket a total of six times. Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods have both won four times. The green jackets remain the property of the club and only the winner is allowed to remove their jacket from the grounds, on condition that they return it the following year.
Bob Jones: Founder
Bob Jones, the man responsible for founding both the club and the competition, almost didn't play in the inaugural Masters tournament that took place on March 22nd 1934. Starting in 1923 until the end of the decade, Jones had been the single most successful amateur golfer to compete at both national and international level, dominating the game and winning 13 of the 31 majors he entered. The pressure of such intense competition soon took its toll and Jones announced his retirement in 1930. He was just 28-years-old. Together with his friend Clifford Roberts, Jones decided to build his dream golf course, primarily for himself and his friends, but also in the hope that the U.S. Open would take place there. When that failed to materialise, Jones decided to host a tournament of his own. Initially Jones planned only to serve as an official and not play, but eventually bowed to pressure from his friends who pointed out that it was ridiculous for him to invite them to play on his course but then refuse to join them. Ultimately, the tournament showed that his best days were behind him. Jones finished in joint 13th place. He would continue playing in the Masters for the next 12 years, but would never manage to top that initial performance.
Sudden Death Play-Off
The Masters is the only major tournament that, in the event of a tie, uses a sudden-death play-off to determine the winner. Although the use of this format is seen by some as a move away from golfing tradition, it can create some moments of genuine high drama. The first - and longest - play-off took place in 1935 between Craig Wood and Gene Sarazen. Lasting a remarkable 36-holes, Sarazen eventually won the match by five strokes. In 1954, Ben Hogan, who had lost the 1942 play-off to Byron Nelson, lost again to Sam Snead, becoming the only player in history to have lost more than one play-off. In 1962, the first three-way play-off took place between Arnold Palmer, Dow Finsterwald and Gary Player, with Palmer surging ahead to claim the title for the third time. The first sudden death play-off took place in 1979 and was won by Fuzzy Zoeller, a first-time competitor. Back then, play-offs began at No. 10 but now they begin on No. 18 and then move on to No. 10 if no winner has been determined. Under the sudden death rules, no play-off has ever lasted more than two holes.
Many professional golfers freely admit that they owe much of their success to their caddies. As well as carrying and cleaning their clubs, caddies also provide players with moral support and walk the full length of a course in advance in order to be able to give advice on an effective playing strategy. Despite this, it used to be the case that at Majors and other tour events, players were not allowed to use their own caddies and instead had to make do with those provided by the clubs. Most tournaments phased out this practice during the 1970s but The Masters clung onto it until 1983. The once piece of tradition that was held on to was that the caddies had to agree to wear the club uniform of white overalls and a green baseball cap. The uniform dates back to the earliest days of the club when caddies were chosen from the ranks of poor black men living in the local community whose own clothes were often in a poor state of repair. Having a uniform ensured that all the caddies looked smart. All the caddie overalls feature a number affixed to the right breast pocket. The caddie of the defending champion gets to wear number one while all the remaining caddies have their numbers assigned according to the order they in which checked in while registering.
Both membership of the Augusta National club and the Masters tournament are by invitation only. New members, who must be nominated by someone already in the club, are only admitted when someone leaves, which usually only happens through death. Membership has remained around the 300 mark for many years. Prior to 2012, women could not become members. Those who do manage to become members of the club have to abide by a series of strictly enforced rules. These include no running, never leaving a guest unattended, no phones, cameras (other than for members of the media) or other electronic devices. Players and spectators both have to pass through airport-style metal detectors and anyone found to be holding 'contraband' will have it confiscated and be ejected from the grounds. Another way in which to get yourself kicked out is to wear your baseball cap backwards - the rules specifically state that it is forbidden to do so.