The first of the year's major championships, the Masters is the only major played over the same course every year. The gorgeous Augusta National layout proving the perfect venue for the staging of this famous and most dramatic of events. In 2017 it all came down to a race between Sergio Garcia and Justin Rose, which ended with a thrilling victory for Sergio. He made his way to the playoff and after a dazzling display of skill and composure, he managed to roll in a 15 foot putt to win the event. It took him a while to win the first major title, but it was a well deserved victory that the fans were anxiously waiting for.
In 2016, defending champion Jordan Spieth held a five shot lead at the half way point of the final round but bogeys on 10 and 11 and an unbelievable 7 on the par three 12th, saw him drop to 4th place and he wasn't able to recover. Meanwhile England's Danny Willett recorded a flawless closing round 67 to win his first major title.
The Green Jacket
This tradition began in 1937 when members of Augusta National wore the jackets so patrons could identify a reliable source of information during The Masters.
However, it was not until 1949 that the first green jacket was awarded to the tournament champion, that year Sam Snead. Traditionally, the champion takes his jacket home with him for one year and returns it to Augusta National when he returns for the Tournament. The jacket is then stored at Augusta and made available whenever the champion visits.
Robert (Bob) Tyre Jones Jnr. was the dominant player in the world throughout the 1920s. At a time when the 'major' championships were considered to be the Open Championships and Amateur Championships of the United States and Britain, Jones claimed 13 of the 21 he entered in that period. In 1926 he became the first man to win both Opens in the same year before in 1930 capturing all four Championships and arguably golf's first grand slam.
Jones retired from competitive golf that year before completing degrees in Mechanical Engineering, English Literature (from Harvard no less!) and Law. He continued to be involved in the game of golf, writing numerous books and articles and in 1932 founded Augusta National Golf Club and in 1934 what is now The Masters Tournament.
Clifford Roberts was the co-founder of Augusta National and The Masters Tournament along with Bobby Jones. It was with Roberts' involvement that the Masters instituted a number of innovative changes to
enhance the tournament experience for their patrons. Improved mounding for spectator viewing, leaderboards throughout the course and a cumulative scoring system (red numbers = under par, green zero = even par and green numbers = over par) are all now commonplace but had their start in Augusta.
Roberts would go on to become a political and financial adviser to President Dwight Eisenhower, later to become a club member, and was honoured by organisations including the PGA of America, the USGA and the World Golf Hall of Fame.
The Augusta National Golf Club, designed by Alister McKenzie and Bobby Jones, is arguably the most famous in golf. Built on what were the Fruitlands Nurseries, the course is revered for the beauty of its trees and shrubs. Along with Bob Jones and Clifford Roberts, Louis Alphonse Berckmans was responsible for planting each of the eighteen holes with a unique plant for which each hole was then named. Examples include Pink Dogwood (Hole 2), Flowering Peach (Hole 3), Magnolia (Hole 5), Azalea (Hole 13) and Holly (Hole 18).
Some of the prominent features of the course include;
* Amen Corner referring to holes number 11, 12 and 13. A journalist from Sports Illustrated coined the phrase in 1958 to describe the stretch where the critical plays had taken place that year. What most people do not know is that the name is taken from a jazz song of the era.
* Rae's Creek is another prominent feature of the golf course, running in front of the twelfth green, showing a tributary at the thirteenth tee before running past the back of the eleventh green. Its place protecting the twelfth green ensures that it will once again be part of the action in 2000.
* Magnolia Lane. One of the most visible features of The Masters is the more than sixty huge magnolia trees that line each side of Magnolia Lane, the entrance to Augusta National. The Berckman family planted the trees in the late 1850's, some eighty years before the golf course was developed.
The cut was instituted at The Masters Tournament in 1957, whereby the field was cut to the low forty players and ties for the weekend. Since 1962, the field has been cut so the low 44 players and ties and those within ten strokes of the leader qualify for the final 36 holes.
* in 2000 was the first time ever, tee times were allocated so that each player goes off in one morning time and one afternoon time in the first two rounds. Until 1999, tee times for the second round were based on scores after the first day.
* Tickets anyone...?? Tickets to The Masters Tournament are sold on a patron subscription basis only. The bad news if you are free next April is that the patrons list closed in 1972 and the waiting list for the patrons list closed in 1978!