The Masters

The Masters Tournament is one of the four men’s major championships in professional golf, held in early April at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. The club, with a current roster of about 300 members, was founded in 1934 by Bobby Jones, a famous amateur golf champion, and Clifford Roberts, a New York investment banker.  The course was designed by Jones and the legendary architect Alister Mackenzie. Over the years, alterations to the original design have been made by notables like Perry Maxwell, Robert Trent Jones, George Cobb and Tom Fazio.

The Masters, then the Augusta National Invitational Tournament, started in 1934. Horton Smith won and received a $1,500 prize. Current champions win upwards of $1.3 million.

Jack Nicklaus victorious at the 1986 Masters Tournament. From JacknNicklaus.com

Jack Nicklaus victorious at the 1986 Masters Tournament. From JacknNicklaus.com

Jack Nicklaus has won more Masters Tournaments than any other golfer, winning in 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975 and 1986. Other multiple winners include greats like Seve Ballesteros, Ben Crenshaw, Jimmy Demaret, Nick Faldo, Ben Hogan, Bernhard Langer, Byron Nelson, Phil Mickelson, José María Olazábal, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Horton Smith, Sam Snead, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods. Palmer and Woods (thus far) have each won four times.

There are a number of traditions associated with the Masters.

A dinner for past champions and select members of the Augusta National Golf Club is held the Tuesday before each tournament. Ben Hogan initiated this event in 1952.

Butler Cabin

Butler Cabin

A green jacket is awarded to the champion, who must return it to the club. It is presented inside Butler Cabin at the end of the tournament, and again in a public ceremony for spectators outside close to the 18th hole. Butler Cabin, built in 1964 and named for club member Thomas Butler, is furnished for use by Augusta National members and special guests. CBS has broadcast the green jacket ceremony from the cabin since 1965. The outgoing Masters Tournament winner places the jacket on the incoming champion. Having won a second consecutive tournament, Jack Nicklaus put the blazer on himself in 1966. Thereafter, repeat champions are given the jacket by a representative of Augusta National.

Other interesting information…

The private club had no African-American members until 1990 when business executive Ron Townsend joined, and no women until 2012 when former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina businesswoman Darla Moore were admitted.

The club maintains strict control of its image, especially tournament broadcasts, which have been televised on CBS since 1956. Contracts are on a year-by-year, take-it-or-leave-it basis. Commercial interruptions are minimal, and non-approved sponsorships are restricted, as are nearly all network promos (so it’s not all bad). The network thus, at least implicitly, very carefully considers its selection of commentators and the flavor of their coverage.

Caddies are uniformed in white jumpsuits and green hats.

The course is always immaculate at tournament time. Grounds crews reportedly apply green spray paint where touchups are needed and add blue dye to water hazards to camouflage algae and stagnation. A special color and grain of sand is imported for the bunkers and traps. Grasses are mowed in special patterns and at particular intervals for both play and show. When possible, trees, flowers and shrubs that will bloom during tournament time are incorporated into the course plantings.

Augusta National's Eisenhower Cabin

Augusta National’s Eisenhower Cabin

In addition to Butler, there are nine other cabins on the course. The club built one in 1953 specifically for President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He golfed at the club many times over the years, so stayed there frequently.

The president himself suggested creating a fishing spot on the course. The club placed a dam to contain a natural spring. The three acre expanse is appropriately known as Ike’s Pond.

Links:

Official website of The Masters
Masters historical records and statistics
Past winners and results of The Masters
CBS coverage of The Masters

Browse Golf subject headings in the library catalog

The library has a few books that include The Masters:

One Magical Sunday: But Winning isn’t Everything by Phil Mickelson with Donald T. Phillips

“…on April 11, 2004, for the most beloved golfer of the decade, everything changed. It is a moment ingrained in the hearts and minds of millions, a moment of epic triumph and destiny fulfilled that will be remembered for the ages. But for Phil Mickelson, winning the 2004 Masters was merely another step in an odyssey that began many years ago.”

The Majors: in Pursuit of Golf’s Holy Grail by John Feinstein

“The four tournaments known as the majors – the Masters, the U.S. Open, the British Open, and the PGA Championship – are the absolute pinnacle of golf, competitions played at a level of pressure guaranteed to give even the greatest golfers the shakes. In The Majors, bestselling sportswriter John Feinstein accompanies a dozen top golfers as they play these tournaments, revealing what it is that makes them so demanding – and what it takes to win such exalted prizes.”

Matt Pettit

Matt is a Public Service Specialist for the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library. His areas of responsibility include outreach library services to nursing homes, senior, retirement and congregate living centers; service to homebound library users; the Kansas Talking Books service; Book Group in a Bag program and the history and sports neighborhoods of the library’s nonfiction collection. With a background in public administration, conflict resolution and aging, Matt works on civic engagement and civil discourse issues for the library and serves on the advisory board of the Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging.