Feature image credit: robert cicchetti/Shutterstock
Golfing season is officially in full swing, now that this year’s first major, the Masters, has come to an end. Whether you are a Masters super fan, or new to the world of golf, here are 10 interesting facts about the prestigious tournament over the course of its 82-year-long history.
- What was the name first given to the Masters in 1934?
The idea for the Masters originated from the late golfer, Bobby Jones, who sought to build a golf course after his retirement from the game, with the help of Clifford Roberts. Work began on the course in 1931 by Alister MacKenzie, and the Augusta National Golf Club opened in January 1933. The Masters, as we know it, was branded as the “Augusta National Invitational” to begin with; the name lasted for four years, until 1938, before being coined “The Masters” in 1938.
- Who was the first ever Masters winner?
This year’s winner, Patrick Reed, took home the coveted Green Jacket and prize money totalling almost $1.98 million, beating second-place Rickie Fowler and third-place Jordan Spieth. However, the very first “Augusta National Invitational” tournament began on the 22nd March 1934, and was won by American professional golfer, Horton Smith, who took home the first prize of $1,500.
- Who are the oldest and youngest Masters champions?
Golf is open to those of all ages, and so the age range of the players vary. In 1986, Jack Nicklaus became the oldest player to win a Masters tournament at 46 years old. On the other hand, Tiger Woods was the youngest player to win a Masters tournament, 21 years ago in 1997, at a mere 21 years old.
Photo credit: Debby Wong/Shutterstock
- How many times has there been wire-to-wire winners in the Masters?
In the 84-year history of the Masters, there have only been five players to win the Masters after maintaining the lead during an entire competition. The players include Craig Wood in 1941, Arnold Palmer in 1960, Jack Nicklaus in 1972, Raymond Floyd in 1976 and most recently, Jordan Spieth three years ago in 2015.
- Where does the Green Jacket come from?
Green jackets were established in 1937 to enable Master Patrons to be easily recognisable for people to find for information. However, it wasn’t until 12 years later, in 1949, that the first Green Jacket was awarded to a Masters champion – Sam Snead.
- Have you ever noticed that each of the holes in the Masters course are named after a plant or a shrub?
Before Bobby Jones and Cliff Roberts transformed the land into the prestigious golf course as it’s known today, it stood as plant nursery. Thus, Jones wanted to stick to the roots of the land and made plants and shrubbery a prominent theme on the course. They named hole 5 Magnolia, as well as Yellow Jasmine (hole 8) and Azalea (hole 13) – the final hole is called Holly (18).
Photo credit: Charles B-Knight/Shutterstock
- What are the uniform rules?
Before 1983, the professionals playing at the Masters tournament had to use Augusta’s own caddies to carry their clubs. Over recent years, this has become more lenient as players can now bring their own assistants, however they are still instructed to wear the trademark white jumpsuits.
The same goes for the professionals too, who are to stick to the dress etiquette at all times. Strict rules mean that golfers are only allowed to wear specific golf clothing whilst partaking in the Masters tournament that must abide by Augusta National’s dress code. Often, men are obliged to wear shorts and a polo by day, and trousers and an Oxford shirt by night; something fashionable and comfortable.
- What is “Amen Corner”?
The well renowned sports print writer, Herbert Warren Wind, labelled the difficult second half of hole number 11, all of hole number 12, and the first half of hole number 13 the “Amen Corner” in 1958. A term that, even now 60 years later, is still swinging around.
According to a Golf Digest article in April 1984, 26 years later, Wind revealed the origin of the phrase. Herbert wanted a ‘catchy phrase’ like baseball’s “hot-corner” or football’s “coffin-corner” to explain where some of the most remarkable golf had taken place – for example, the way the 1958 Masters champion winner Arnold Palmer played the three holes on the final day of the tournament.
Photo credit: g-stockstudio/Shutterstock
- Who are the most notable members?
Over the years there have been a number of high-profile members of the Masters club, including President Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower. He was the first US President to have been a club member, and “Ike’s Pond” was named after him at the time, when he suggested building a dam to create a fish pond within the Augusta National Golf Club.
Other notable members include the co-founder and chairman of Microsoft, Bill Gates, as well as former NFL player Lynn Swann, ‘Hall of Fame’ golfers Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, and former US Secretary of Defence, Melvin Laird.
- Why did Ron Townsend make history in 1990?
In 1990, Ron Townsend became the first African-American in the history of the Masters to set foot on the course – not as a caddie, but to play golf – thus breaking down the race barrier at the club. Townsend told CNN of the moment in 1975 when he broke down one of sport’s longstanding racial barriers, “It was very nerve-racking”.