History Of The Masters

masters golf tournament

The Masters is one of the most distinguished and recognizable events on the PGA Tour, held at the same course annually, the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. This tournament is the pinnacle of any golfer's career and has been home to some of the sport's most iconic moments.


Origins of The Masters

The legendary amateur American golfer Bobby Jones and investment dealer Clifford Roberts paired together following Jones's retirement and created the course we know and love today. The Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, became a 72-hole course; the pair was assisted in planning by the English golf course designer Alister MacKenzie. The course was created with the idea of having an exclusive golf club with no swimming pool or tennis courts whose sole focus was on the appreciation of the game of golf. The course opened in 1933, and the first-ever Masters Tournament was held the following year, in 1934.

Masters Awards

The participants in the tournament are selected well before the start of the event, and the included golfers are invited to compete based on their past achievements and merit. While initially there was only a monetary prize attached with the 1940 winner Jimmy Demaret earning $5,000 for his first-place finish at the tournament, the awards have since evolved. Now, a first-place finish is worth several million dollars, presented with a gold medal, awarded a lifetime invitation to the Masters, and granted automatic invitations to the other three majors for the next five years. Since 1949, the iconic green jacket has been awarded to winners, and after 1961, their names have also been engraved on the club's silver Masters Trophy.

Evolution of the Tournament

While the course opened its doors in 1933, the first tournament held was members-only. However, following the immense success and reviews of the course the next year, they opened their annual tournament to non-members, and the Masters as we know it today was created.

Today, it is considered one of the four "majors" of the PGA season, with the other three major golf tournaments being the U.S. Open, the British Open (Open Championship), and the Professional Golfers' Association of America (PGA) Championship. Of the four main tournaments, it is the only one played annually at the same site and has been held there every year since its opening, except for the 1943-45 seasons.

Augusta National Golf Course

Part of the allure of The Masters is the course itself; notoriously difficult yet breathtaking visually, the course is considered sacred, and golfer Sam Snead famously called the course the "hallowed grounds." An idea widely agreed with, seen by the considerable number of golfers that feel honored to have ever had the chance to play a single match there. The course has changed over the years to adapt to the way the game has been played; the first notable change came in 2002 when the course at Augusta National was lengthened by 285 yards, and three sets of fairway bunkers were made more difficult. The following significant change came before the 2006 Masters when the course was extended again by 155 yards to an ultimate length of 7,445 yards, which it has remained since.

Key Dates And Facts Timeline

  • 1934: The first official Masters tournament was held. Horton Smith won the first-ever recognized Masters Tournament open to non-members of the course.
  • 1949: Sam Snead won his first Masters, and was the first winner to be presented with a green jacket, which is a tradition that lives on today.
  • 1980: Seve Ballesteros defeated Jack Newton and Gibby Gilbert in the Masters by four strokes to become the first European golfer to win the tournament.
  • 1986: Jack Nicklaus won his sixth green jacket and had his final PGA Tour victory before retiring and becoming the oldest Masters winner in history at age 46.
  • 1997: Tiger Woods captured his first Masters championship while shooting 270, which broke the 72-hole course tournament scoring record.
  • 2002: Augusta National was lengthened from 6,925 yards to 7,270 yards.
  • 2006: Augusta National was again lengthened, this time to its current length of 7,445.
  • 2013: Adam Scott became the first Australian Masters winner, a massive moment as his home country had nine previous runners-up in the tournament.

FAQ

What is the history of the Masters?

The Master's tournament has been held annually since 1934, during the first whole week of April at the private Augusta National Golf Club. American golfer Bobby Jones has been credited with initially creating the tournament, which has been since considered one of the four "majors" of the PGA Tour. The first winner of the Masters was golfer Horton Smith who won the inaugural tournament held in 1932, and since that year, the Masters has been held every single year outside of the 1943-45 seasons.

Who invented the Masters?

The legendary amateur American golfer Bobby Jones and investment dealer Clifford Roberts are credited with inventing the Masters Tournament. Bobby came to Roberts after his golf career ended, and with his help, the pair opened and co-owned the 72-hole Augusta National Golf Club in 1933. After a rousing success in a members-only tournament held to commemorate the course's opening, Jones expanded the invitation to non-members; the first Masters tournament was created from this idea and began in 1934.

Why do they call it the Masters?

The name "The Masters" that we recognize was initially suggested by the co-owner of the course, Clifford Roberts, to reference the "masters of golf" who played in the competition. Yet the other co-owner Bobby Jones objected, believing the name was too presumptuous. They initially went with the title "The Augusta National Invitational Tournament," but in 1933, they finally settled on the name "The Masters" as we know it today.