100 Things You Didn't Know About The Masters
Augusta National is one of golf's most hallowed places. It's a tournament that is full of tradition and history, which is in large part why we love it so much. In the leadup to the Masters this year, we did a little digging to find some of the most interesting facts about Augusta and it's most famous tournamet. We actually got a little carried away because we have for you here 100 pieces of incredible Masters trivia, lore and facts that are sure to impress even the most well-versed golf fan.
1. Clifford Roberts and Bob Jones organized the first event at Augusta National in 1934, this would later be known as The Masters
2. It was called the “Augusta National Invitational” for the first five years (1934-1939)
3. The first Masters tournament was held March 22, 1934. Since 1940, it’s always been scheduled during the first full week of April (Sunday – Sunday).
4. Horton Smith won the first tournament in 1934.
5. The first African-american member was admitted in 1990.
6. Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts had a vision to establish a national membership club.
7. Construction began in 1931 after the pair took a $70,000 option on a 365-acre property called Fruitland Nurseries. Alistir Mackenzie of Scotland designed the course and it officially opened in 1932 with limited play.
8. There have been six chairmen at Augusta National: Clifford Roberts (1934-1976), William Lane (1976-1980), Hord Hardin (1980-1991), Jack Stephens (1991-1998), William (Hootie) Johnson (1998-2006), Billy Payne (2006-Present)
9. Founded at the beginning of The Great Depression, the plan for Augusta National had a rocky start.
10. The originally business plan called for 1,800 members but at the time of the first tournament in 1936, the club only 76 paying members. The club couldn’t even afford to pay winner Horton Smith or any of the top finishers until 17 of the members chipped in for the purse.
11. The original plans for Augusta were actually much more grand. The vision included two 18-hole courses (a championship course and a ladies course), squash courts, tennis courts, a bridle path, several dozen houses for members and a hotel. A lack of funding forced them to build only one course and clubhouse.
12. Augusta played host to the very first PGA Seniors Championship in 1937. That move played a key role in establishing a senior tour.
13. The Masters is a tournament of many firsts. It was the first tournament to host a 72 hole competition over four days. It was also the first golf course to have room for thousands of cars and the first tourney to offer free daily pairing sheets instead of a program. The Masters was the first golf tournament to be nationally covered on radio, the first to use bleachers to offer better seating, and the first to use private detectives to handle security and ticket sales. And perhaps most important, it was the first to use an on-course scoreboard and use the under/over par system that we use today.
14. Lee Elder became the first African American to compete in the Masters in 1975. The first black member wouldn’t be admitted until 1990.
15. 1982 was the first year that golfers were allowed to bring their own caddies to the Masters. Prior to that, players were assigned local caddies for the tournament.
16. 2012 marked the first year that women were admitted as members at Augusta National. Former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice and private investment banker, Darla Moore received invitations that year.
17. Amen Corner refers to holes 11, 12 and 13. In 1958, Sports Illustrated writer, Herbert Warren Wind, coined the phrase, which was borrowed from an old jazz recording called, “Shouting at Amen Corner”.
18. The famous creek that runs in front of Hole 12’s green is called Rae’s Creek after a man named John Rae. Rae was a prominent figure in the Augusta area starting in the 1740’s. His company, Brown, Rae and Co., was a leading trade partner with local native americans and they traded primarily deerskins, which were highly valued in England at the time.
19. While Augusta is renowned for it’s lush vegetation, the Pine Tree is the most abundant type on the course. There are many types that grow there including: Shortleaf Pines, Eastern White Pines, Longleaf Pines, Loblolly Pines, and Slash Pines.
20. The “Big Oak” that stands behind the clubhouse was planted in the 1850s, making it well over 150 years old.
21. The entrance from the gate to the clubhouse is dubbed “Magnolia Lane”. The road was originally built in the late 1850’s and is 330 feet long. There are 61 large Magnolia Trees that line the road.
22. There is a Founders Circle at the base of the flag in front of the clubhouse. There you’ll find two plaques – one for each founder.
23. Augusta National features three beautiful dedicated bridges. The Sarazen Bridge on number 15 honor’s Gene Sarazen’s double eagle in the 1935 Masters, the Hogan Bridge at number 12 green honors Ben Hogan’s then-record score of 274 in 1953 and the Nelson Bridge on number 13 tee honors Byron Nelson’s performance at Amen Corner in 1937.
24. There is a three-acre pond on the course called Ike’s Pond. It’s named after President Eisenhower and is spring fed and features a dam.
25. There is another fountain located to the left of the number 17 tee. It was built to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Masters and displays course records and tournament winners.
26. There are 10 Augusta National Golf Club Cabins located on the grounds and these cabins provide lodging for members and guests. One of the cabins is named the Eisenhower Cabin since it was built for the President and Mrs. Eisenhower for their visits to Augusta.
27. Every hole at Augusta is named after a plant or shrub. During TV coverage, you’ll hear announcers refer to hole names like “Azalea” or “Flowering Crab Apple”
28. Bobby Jones originally wanted 19 holes at Augusta. He wanted the extra hole so that losing golfers could have another opportunity to win back money in a game of double or nothing. It was supposed to be 90-yards long and run uphill towards the clubhouse between holes 9 and 18. It was dropped for economic reasons and because the hole would impede the view of the 18th green for patrons.
29. The Par 3 course at Augusta National is 2,460 yards long with the shortest hole a mere 60 yards and the longest coming in at 190. It was built in 1958 and was originally viewed as a collassal waste of money. However, it was an instant hit among members and the Par 3 tournament on Wednesdays is now a cherished part of The Masters traditions.
30. There is a natural spring between the 13th and 14th fairways that literally spouts gold dust when it rains.
31. Aside from course designer, Alistir MacKenzie, there have been 10 other architects that have made changes to Augusta. Most notably, Robert Trent Jones Sr. transformed the Par 3 16th from a fairly straightforward 145-yard pitch over a creek to a 170 yard shot over a pond. That change happened in 1947. Architect, Perry Maxwell, also made significant changes to Holes 7 and 10. He turned the relatively tame Par 4 7th into the terrifying masterpiece it is today with a shallow, elevated green, which is fronted by deep bunkers.
32. After the inaugural Masters in 1934, the nines were actually switched to the current format. Records show that course designer, Alistir MacKenzie, originally designed the course this way but changed the plan just before construction commenced in 1931. The switch back to the original design allowed for play to start earlier since the morning frost would melt off the low-lying 10-12th holes and has added to the drama that we’ve come to expect on the back nine of Augusta.
33. Those pristine white bunkers at Augusta National are unique. They are filled with waste product from the mining of aluminum. The mining process produces waste in the form of incredibly bright, pure quartz, which is what Augusta uses for the bunkers.
34. The Eisenhower tree is a large Loblolly Pine that was located on the 17th fairway at Augusta National. It was named for the former President since he used to hit so often. Eisenhower actually lobbied to have it taken down but was unsuccessful.
35. In 2014 the Eisenhower tree was severely damaged in an ice storm roughly 2 months before the Masters. After consulting with some of the best arborists in the world, the tree was deemed too damaged to fix and had to be taken down.
36. The Masters is the only major golf tournament to round off yardage numbers. The yardage of each hole is actually rounded off to a 5 or a 0. Course co-founder Clifford Roberts felt that an exact yardage wasn’t needed because tee markers and pin placements move every round. The course is listed at 7,435 yards, but no one can be sure it’s actually that length.
37. One of the myths about Augusta National is that staff actually place bags of ice on the Azaleas to keep them from blooming until the Masters. Every now and then, spring arrives early and the Azaleas and dogwoods are no longer in bloom.
PLAYER FUN FACTS
38. Jack Nicklaus has the most Masters wins of any player with six
39. Jack Nicklaus is also the oldest player to ever win the green jacket at 46 years, 2 months and 23 days. He accomplished this feat in 1986.
40. The youngest player to ever win The Masters is Tiger Woods, who won in 1997 at the age of 21 years, 3 months and 14 days.
41. While The Masters has a strong tradition of amateur involvement, no amateur has ever won the tourney.
42. Only a handful of pro golfers are members – Jack Nicklaus, John Harris and until his death in 2017, Arnold Palmer.
43. 6-time Masters Champion, Jack Nicklaus, has a plaque honoring his success. The plaque is affixed to a drinking fountain between holes 16 and 17.
44. 4-time Masters Champion, Arnold Palmer, also has a plaque located on a drinking fountain behind the 16th tee.
45. Among players who have played 100 rounds or more at the masters, Fred Couples has the best scoring average at 71.94. Jack Nicklaus is second with 71.98.
46. In the history of the Masters, there have only been three back-to-back winners: Jack Nicklaus – ’65 and ’66, Nick Faldo – ’89 and ’90, and Tiger Woods – ’01 and ’02.
47. In 2010, Mateo Manassero became the youngest player to ever make the cut at the masters. He was 16 years, 11 months and 22 days old.
48. That is until Guan Tianlang from China came along in 2013. Tianlang was a very mature 14 years and 3 months when he competed. We're guessing your teenage accomplishements aren't quite as impressive.
49. The Masters Tournament course record is 63. Both Jack Nicklaus (1986) and Nick Price (1996), have accomplished this feat.
50. The average number of Masters played before victory is six. Mark O’Meara played in 15 Masters before winning in 1998.
51. The Masters has a knack for brewing excitement at the end. Masters Tournaments have actually gone into extra holes 21% of the time, meaning that there is always a good chance that you’ll get to see some bonus golf.
52. While it’s incredibly hard to win back to back Masters (only three have done it), it’s only slightly easer to win multiple green jackets over a career. Just 17 golfers have accomplished this feat.
53. The green jacket was first introduced in 1949 and was awarded to winner Sam Snead
54. Jack Nicklaus, a six-time Masters winner, never had his own tailored green jacket until 1988. When the club learned of the oversight, they corrected it quickly.
55. While winners didn’t start taking home green jackets until 1949, members started wearing them in 1937 as a way for Masters patrons to easily identify people who would be able to provide accurate information about the club.
56. Gary Player is the only Masters winner not to have his green jacket kept at Augusta. Player got around this rule because he kept “forgetting” to bring it back after his 1961 win. You can now see Player’s jacket at the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Augustine, Florida.
57. The Masters green jacket actually has a few different hues and has gone from forest green to hunter green with a few shades in between over the years. Changes in manufacturers and tailors have caused the differences.
58. To make sure that the champion will have a jacket that fits, jackets of multiple sizes are stored on site at Augusta National. As the tournament comes to it’s conclusion, employees begin to pull jackets in the sizes of the remaining top players to ensure that they will have a jacket ready for the winner.
59. The famous Green Jackets, which are given to winners of The Masters, are acquired from Brooks Uniform Co. in New York.
60. You can bring your green jacket home with you after winning, but you must bring it back to the club the following year.
61. The Masters is a very traditional tournament. It’s so traditional that they actually banned CBS announcer, Gary McCord, in 1995 for saying, “They don’t cut the greens here at Augusta, they use bikini wax.”
62. There is also particular verbiage that Masters TV announcers are required to adhere to. Fans are called “patrons” and the rough is referred to as the “second cut”.
63. It’s illegal to sell your Masters tickets within 2,700 feet of the gates at Augusta National. Dozens of people are busted every year.
64. There are separate locker rooms at Augusta – one for players, which is located in the west wing of the clubhouse and a separate champions locker room, which is located on the second floor.
65. Augusta National may be one of the last places in America where pay phones still play an important role. Cell phones are actually banned, meaning you can have an authentic-feeling time travel experience while waiting in line for a pay phone.
66. The amateurs who play in The Masters every year stay in a residence called The Crow’s Nest. It houses up to 5 players. The Crow’s Nest sits atop the clubhouse and features a 11-square foot cupola at the top surrounded by windows. It can be reached by ladder and offers some pretty spectacular views.
67. The Champions Dinner is a tradition for members of the Masters Club who have won a Masters Tournament. It’s hosted by the defending champion on the Tuesday before the Masters every year.
68. Starting in 1963, a Par 3 Contest was held on the Wednesday before the Masters. There is a fountain on the course that is next to the Number 1 teebox.
69. There is a Par 3 curse. No player has ever won the Par 3 Tournament and gone on to win the Masters in the same year.
70. Want to apply for membership at Augusta National? You can’t. It’s invite-only.
71. The initiation fee after invitation isn’t as outrageous as you might expect. It’s estimated to be $37,500, which was easily paid by Augusta National’s two richest members – Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.
72. The previous year’s winner gets to choose the menu at the Champions Dinner, which occurs on the Tuesday before the Masters every year. In 1989 when Sandy Lyle chose to serve haggis, Jack Nicklaus opted to order off of the club menu, saying, “Oh, I hope he enjoys it.”
73. In May, on the very last day the club is open before closing for the summer, Augusta National’s caddies get to play for free all day long.
74. Some of the Champion’s Dinner menu choices are very personal. Bernhard Langer served weiner schnitzel, Tiger Woods chose cheeseburgers and milkshakes after his first win and Sandy Lyle chose haggis.
75. To this day, children between the ages of 8 and 16 of Masters badge holders can enter the grounds for free.
76. Inflation hasn’t hit the Masters Concession Stand yet. You can still get the famous Augusta National Pimento Cheese Sandwich for $1.50. Actually, nothing on the menu costs more than $3.00, making food by far the most affordable part of any Masters experience.
77. Beer is also ridiculously cheap for a premier sporting event. You can score a cold brew at The Masters for a mere $3.00, which a pittance compared to the $12 average price at NBA and NFL games.
78. In an effort to uphold the appearance standards of the prestigious tournament, caddies at The Masters have been required since ’82 to wear the pristine white coveralls that have become such a familiar sight.
79. The tradition of honorary starters began in 1963 when Jock Hutchinson and Fred McLeod hit the honorary opening shots. Only nine men have had the honor: Jock Hutchinson, Fred McLeod, Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson, Ken Venturi, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.
80. Want to score a player autograph? At the Masters, it’s restricted to one area on the Washington Road side of the clubhouse, which is near the practice facilities.
RANDOM MASTERS FUN FACTS
81. The Masters Tournament was not held from 1943-1945 due to World War II. To help with the war efforts, cattle and turkey were raised on the grounds.
82. Due to the lack of groundskeepers during the war, the cattle were occasionally set loose on fairways to help keep the grass trim.
83. The only President to have been a club member is unsurprisingly, Dwight D Eisenhower.
84. Tournament founder Clifford Roberts, started calling the tournament “The Masters” in 1938, but Bobby Jones hated the name and referred to it as “the so-called-Masters” as late as 1963.
85. Augusta course designer, Alistir MacKenzie, never got to see his vision in completed form. He died before the grass had even been planted.
86. The only reason we have The Masters is because Jones and Clifford were rejected by the USGA in their bid to hold the 1934 US Open.
87. Jones and Clifford also wanted to establish a golf hall of fame at Augusta, similar to the Baseball Hall of Fame. They wanted it to feature a miniature version of Augusta, a driving range and replicas of books in the library. The project never saw the light of day due to the start of World War II.
88. Clifford Roberts was instrumental in helping the over/under scoring system become a staple in golf tournament coverage. He directed the CBS camera crew to actually film the scoreboard instead of just having announcers verbalize the scores.
89. Augusta National’s co-founder, Clifford Roberts, met a sad end in 1977. At age 83 and in failing health, Roberts took his own life with a single pistol shot to the head next to Ike’s Pond.
90. The 1967 Masters was the first sporting event ever broadcast live to an overseas audience. Sporting events had been broadcast overseas prior to that, but never live. The BBC opened up a whole new world of sports broadcasting when they went live via satellite.
91. Augusta National is technically considered a winter club, which means it was designed for Richie riches from the Northeast to escape the harsh winters. The course is closed from May until October every year.
92. In 1983, there was a crazy incident involving President Ronald Reagan at Augusta National. Reagan was playing the course as a guest of Secretary of State, George Shultz, who was a member. The round was interrupted on hole 16 when a disgruntled local man named Charles Harris, crashed a truck through a gate and demanded to see the President. Harris held hostages at gunpoint in the pro shop for two hours before the Secret Service subdued him.
93. If only! The original membership at Augusta National cost $350, which translates to a great deal at $4,217 in today’s money.
94. In 1956, President Eisenhower was forced to choose between a planned trip to Augusta or throwing the first pitch at the Washington Senators game. When the baseball team realized that the President was going to choose Augusta, they rescheduled the game.
95. When viewing Augusta National on TV, it can appear flat at times. However, it is quite a hilly course with the elevation difference between highest and lowest points measuring 175 feet.
96. The par-3 sixth hole offers Masters patrons a unique view. You can actually sit in front of golfers teeing off. The downhill slope in front of the teebox allows you to watch tee shots fly over your head to the green.
97. The Masters is now the most widely watched golf tournament in the world and is broadcast in over 200 countries.
98. Masters tickets are surprisingly affordable for such a high profile sporting event. It costs just $140 per day to attend. However, you have to win the Masters lottery to score tickets, and that is more difficult.
99. In 1994, one lucky thrifter found an authentic Masters jacket for sale at a Toronto shop and paid a whopping $5 to acquire it. Augusta National confirmed the authenticity of the jacket and determined it was from the 1950’s. The new owner then sold the jacket at auction for nearly $140,000. It pays to be thrifty sometimes my friends!
100. CBS has held the broadcasting rights for The Masters since 1956, but they have to negotiate for those rights every single year. This format ensures that the Masters have more flexibility in negotiations, which have certainly helped them as golf has grown in popularity over the years.
101. Money, money, money. The first Masters winner, Horton Smith, took home $1,500 in 1934 (just over $33k in today’s dollars). Specific payouts are not announced until the week of the Masters, but the 2023 winner will pocket around $2.7 million!
102. The Masters logo is one of the most profitable logos in all of sports. The merchandise tents at Augusta are usually busier than the entrance gates with some patrons known to drop up to $20,000 in a single shopping spree.
Alright - there you have it. 100 things you probably didn't know about the Masters Golf Tournament. And lucky you - we threw in a bonus couple of fun facts just because we love you so much!
What surprised you the most? Any fun facts we missed? Let us know in the comments!