Held every April at the Augusta National Golf Club, Georgia, the US Masters Tournament is the world’s most prestigious golf event. It has become the number one sporting event in the US, and most golf enthusiasts endeavour to attend the tournament at least once.
The Masters Tournament is the only true invitation-event of the four major golf tournaments around the world: the US Open, British Open, and the PGA of America. Founded in the Depression years, the former Fruitland Nurseries was transformed into one of the most amazing golf courses around the world by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts – along with the genius design of Dr Alister Mackenzie. Although modifications have been made to Augusta National, the course still resembles the original landscape after all this time and despite modern advances.
Winning the Masters Tournament provides lifetime privileges along with significant prizes. Aside from the financial reward of close to $2 million, the winner is entitled to enter to the other three major tournaments, and the greatest perk of all – a lifetime exemption into the tournament.
Members’ privileges are also afforded to the winner. The “green jacket” – a classic Pantone-342 rye green three-buttoned jacket, is honoured to the winner in reverence of the club and their name is engraved on the Silver Masters Trophy.
Since its commencement in 1934, the Masters Tournament has invited thousands of professional golfers around the world, and has caught the attention of many amateur golfers who vie to have their names listed on the guest list.
The Masters Tournament is rich in stories and notable success in golf history, including Jack Nicklaus’ sixth win in 1986, having played in three different decades, Tiger Woods’ record-breaking 270 points in the 72-hole tournament as the youngest golfer to win the title – and the tournament’s three-year hiatus from 1943-45 at the height of WWII. Here’s a gallery of winners and prominent figures in the Masters Tournament:
“To me, the Augusta National course has character, individuality and personality. It is one of the few courses that really presents two games on almost every hole; a game to reach the greens and another to figure the ever-challenging contours after reaching the greens.”
Hailed as one of golf’s first boy wonders, 21-year-old Horton Smith won eight out of 22 events in the PGA Tour and finished second six times. In 1934, he won his first win in the formerly-named Augusta National Invitation Tournament and his second in 1936, where he beat Harry Cooper with his 16-footer chip on the 71st despite heavy rain. Smith is believed to be the first golfer to carry a 23-ounce sand wedge in the tournament before it was banned in 1930 for its concave face. He is also the last man to win against Bobby Jones (the founder of the Masters Tournament) before Jones’ retirement in 1930.
“Keep close count of your nickels and dimes, stay away from whiskey, and never concede a putt.”
Sam Snead, also called “Slammin’ Sammy” for his much-admired perfect swing, is one of the top golfers in his time. Aside from his achievements inside the golf course, Snead was the first Masters champion to receive the Green Jacket in 1949.
A three-time champion and World Golf Hall of Famer, Gary Player won the Masters Tournaments in 1961, 1974, and 1978 respectively.
Along with his fellow “Big Three” counterparts, Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, this Grand Slam champ is also known for mistakenly ignoring the “Green Jacket” rule when he took his jacket to his homeland of South Africa after his first win in 1961, and forgot to bring the jacket with him when he returned for the 1962 tournament. Upon discovery of this lapse, Clifford Roberts paid a call to convince Player to return the jacket to which he jokingly replied:
“Well, you can come and fetch it.”
After Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth was the second youngest to have won the Masters Tournament.
Winning the title in 2015, this 25-year-old Texas player joined his predecessor, Jack Nicklaus, to have won three of the four major tournaments before he reached 24. He is also the only other player aside from Tiger Woods to win the U.S Junior Amateur twice.
Unlike other Masters champs, Bubba Watson never had a single golf lesson. As a six-year old boy with a curiosity towards the game, he first acquired his knowledge and skills about golf from his father. He then continued to develop his game throughout high school, and swing his way into gaining a scholarship grant in the University of Georgia. Watson went pro in 2001 and won his first of 12 PGA Tours in 2010.
Arguably the greatest player of all time. Nicklaus was named PGA Player of the Year five times (1967, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976), and he was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974. His career totals include 73 PGA victories—a number exceeded only by Sam Snead and Tiger Woods—and a record 18 victories in the four major professional championships, including six Masters Tournaments spanning three decades.
Despite being dogged by controversy off-field, Tiger Woods is undeniably one of the greatest golfers of all time. His first of four wins in the Masters Tournament at the age of 21 in 1997 made him the youngest to win the title in golfing history, plus the first African-American to accomplish this feat. Following a hiatus from professional golf in 2009-2010, Woods ascended to the number one ranking again in 2013, holding the spot until May 2014 before a series of setbacks that saw him falling to number 1119 in the World Golf Ranking in December 2017. He has since moved to number 13 following his first tournament win in September 2018.
What would this list be without the founding father of the US Masters himself?
A legendary golf icon and the genius behind the Masters Tournament, Robert Tyre Jones Jr, or simply “Bobby Jones”, is the man above all golfers.
As an amateur champion, Jones dreamt of creating a strategic golf course that would provide various options for players across different skill levels. Along with his colleagues, Clifford Roberts (an investment banker) and Alister Mackenzie (a course architect), Jones transformed his dreams into reality.
His reputation boosted the world of golf and attracted the biggest golf personalities into the tournament. And in 1934, the world witnessed the inauguration of what would become one of the prestigious golf events worldwide.
The Traditions: The Amen Corner, The Green Jacket, and the Pimento Cheese Sandwich!