In April, the most elite golfers assemble to tee off in one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year. The 2016 Masters Tournament officially started Monday, April 4. It began with opening ceremonies, and on April 5, the competition began. Of the hundreds of professional golfers, 90 were selected to have a swing at the coveted “green jacket.”
The legend of the Masters Tournament began with Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts. They decided to buy property in Augusta, Ga., and recruited Dr. Alister MacKenzie to help design a golf course. Originally named Augusta National Invitation Tournament, in 1934, the first competition kicked off with Horton Smith becoming its first champion. One year later, Gene Sarazen landed the ever-elusive double eagle, putting the Masters Tournament on the map.
It was not until 1949 that the infamous green jacket was adopted as the championship award. Sam Snead won by three strokes and took home the new prize and $2,500.
The 1960s was a time of rapid growth for the Masters Tournament. During this time, organizers made the first rule limiting the number of spectators allowed.
From that time on, the Masters Tournament has become an institution in the world of professional golf. The sport’s greatest players have battled it out on the greens, and history has been made on the fairways and sand traps of Augusta National Golf Club. Yet, since its creation, through expansion and popularity, the Masters Tournament has remained by invitation only. Professional golfers, regardless of their ranking, must be invited to tee off.
The Masters Tournament has guided the history of golf legend and lore. Last year, CBS Sports reported the smallest number of participants since 2002, when there were 89 golfers. This year squeaked by with 90 competitors.
The leadership board was posted on the Masters website after the Par 3 contest. Many, including Rory McIlroy, bowed out of the Par 3 challenge and kept their eyes focused on the green jacket. The Augusta Chronicle reported no golfer has won both the Par 3 contest and the Masters Tournament in the same year.
For those going to the Masters Tournament for the first time, there are a few things to know. The Augusta Chronicle recommended bringing heavy rain gear in case the weather changes. There are also leadership boards posted throughout the course, so wandering around is highly recommended.
Veteran visitors have also given advice for new spectators. Using the stands allows for people to see more than one hole. Amen Corner and the stands at the 15th green/16th tee get filled quickly, so they advise an early arrival. The stand by the eighth green has spectacular views.
Augusta National Golf Club is also known as golf’s first “stadium” course. If it is hard to find space in the stands, expert visitors suggest making use of the course’s hilly terrain. An area behind the seventh green provides an excellent view of many surrounding holes. To get away from the crowd, it is advised that patrons walk between Nos. 4 and 5. It is a bit of a hike, but Augusta.com says its worth it.
The Masters Tournament sits at the pinnacle of sporting events. Golf Digest asked professional golfers and celebrities what makes the tournament so special, to which they replied, “The Masters is a tradition like no other.” Those going to visit for the first time are well advised to come prepared by knowing how to make the most of this grand spectacle.
The history of the Masters Tournament and its development over the years has guided the legacy of golf and its heroes from its creation in 1934. Once again, the festivities are underway in Augusta, Ga., starting on April 4. Only 90 golfers were invited, and after the Par 3 contest finished, the 2016 Master Tournament was underway.
By Harrison Baker
Golf Digest: What makes the Masters the best week of the year?
CBS Sports: The 2016 Masters field will likely be smallest since 2002 tournament
The Augusta Chronicle: Rory McIlroy won’t play in Par-3 Contest at Masters Tournament
Augusta.com: Patron guide
Top and Featured Image Courtesy of PABLO HERRERO ISASI’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Ryan Schreiber’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License