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The Masters Tournament: Truly Second To None
7:11pm - 12/04/2017

By Mike May

The great thing about The Masters golf tournament is that you really don’t have to like golf in order to really enjoy The Masters.  Whether you are watching on TV or you are walking along the grounds of this historic piece of eastern Georgia real estate, there’s an element of class and prestige that emanates from your television set and is also in the atmosphere on the grounds of the Augusta National Golf Club.  That feeling starts as soon as you tune into the television coverage or when you park your car and start walking toward the club.

As an event, The Masters is truly in a class by itself when compared to other high-profile special events, whether it’s The Super Bowl, game seven of Major League Baseball’s World Series, the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, soccer’s World Cup final, or the inauguration of a U.S. President.  While those afore-mentioned events are ‘bucket list’ items to attend for millions of people, The Masters is perched on a different level.  Simply put, it’s a ‘cut above the rest.’  And, everybody knows it – the players, the patrons (not fans!), the media, Augusta National’s membership, Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne, and this year’s three major TV sponsors – Mercedes Benz, AT&T, and IBM.  In a nutshell, it’s also fair to say that getting invited to play in The Masters is more exclusive than getting invited to be a member of the Augusta National Golf Club.  While patrons truly enjoy attending The Masters, participants love playing in the event even more so.  That passion for the event is why South African golf legend Gary Player participated in a record 52 Masters tournaments before finally stepping aside and then becoming an honorary starter -- along with Jack Nicklaus and the late, great Arnold Palmer – on the morning of the first day of play.

There are a number of aspects of The Masters, many of which are unknown to some of the tournament’s most loyal patrons.  This confirms that The Masters tournament is a ‘cut above the rest.’  And, it’s a position which Augusta National’s membership relishes and cherishes.

Listed below are a dozen facts about The Masters which represent 12 reasons why this major championship is a little more unique than any other special event on planet Earth:

1.)    Dinner Reservations.  Winners of The Masters each year don’t have to worry about dinner that night because they are invited to join the members of the Augusta National Golf Club for dinner in the Trophy Room inside the clubhouse.  The meal starts soon after the awarding of the Green Jacket inside Butler Cabin and on the 18th green, upon the conclusion of the tournament.

2.)    Sleepover Special.  While it’s well known that amateurs who play in The Masters each year are invited to stay in the Crow’s Nest, which sits at the tip-top of the Augusta National clubhouse, many people would be surprised that it sleeps five and is 1,200 square feet of living space.

3.)    Trophy Time.  The permanent Masters trophy weighs 100 pounds and it features the name of the annual winner of the tournament and the name(s) of the runnerup.  The winner of The Masters receives a replica of the real trophy and a gold medal, both of which he is allowed to take home.  The replica weighs only 20 pounds.  The permanent Masters Trophy was built in England and features 900 separate pieces of silver

4.)    The Clubhouse.  The Augusta National clubhouse predates the building of the golf course as it was originally a private home built in 1854.

5.)    Keeping Up with the Jones’.  In the first edition of The Masters (in 1934), then known as the Augusta National Invitation Tournament, Bobby Jones competed in the event, where he finished in a 13th place tie with Denny Shute and Walter Hagen.  Jones’ 72-hole score was +6, which was ten shots behind the winner Horton Smith.

6.)    Naming Rights.  The credit for the naming of each hole at the Augusta National Golf Club is given to Louis Alphonse Berckman, Bobby Jones, and Clifford Roberts, who adorned each hole with a plant for which it is named.

7.)    Palmer’s Plaque.  On April 4, 1995, a bronze plaque, in honor of Arnold Palmer’s play and contributions as a four-time winner of The Masters, was unveiled.  The plaque is affixed to the water fountain which sits behind the 16th tee.

8.)    Jack’s Plaque.  On April 7, 1998, a plaque, in honor of Jack Nicklaus’ play and contributions as a six-time Masters champion, was unveiled.  The plaque is affixed to a drinking fountain that sits between the 16th and 17th holes.

9.)    By Invitation Only.  There are 19 different criteria which The Masters Committee uses to draft the list of players who are invited to play in The Masters each April.  The Masters Committee, at its discretion, also invites international players not otherwise qualified.

10.)                        Who Is Rae?  Rae’s Creek, which has a presence on the 11th, 12th, and 13th holes at Augusta National, is named after John Rae, who died in 1780.  Rae’s house was the farthest fortress up the Savannah River from Fort Augusta.  His house kept residents safe during Indian attacks when Fort Augusta was out of reach.

11.)                        The Green Jacket.  The tradition of awarding The Green Jacket to the winner of The Masters started in 1949, when Sam Snead won.  The tradition of the members wearing a green coat started in 1937.  The jackets were purchased from the Brooks Uniform Company in New York City.  Each Green Jacket is adorned with brass buttons.  On each button, there appears the logo of the Augusta National Golf Club.

12.)                        Par 3 Tournament.  The Par 3 Contest at The Masters was first held in 1960.  The first event was won by Sam Snead.  To date, no player has ever won both the Par 3 Contest and The Masters in the same year.  The course record is held by Jimmy Walker who recorded an eight-under-par round of 19 in 2016.

Next time you get together with friends to either watch or attend The Masters, you’ll be able to educate and enlighten your colleagues with some interesting facts about this event which is truly second to none and a ‘cut above the rest.’  Finally, the members of the Augusta National Golf Club and the local residents in the greater Augusta area simply refer to the course as The National.  When are your next plans to visit The National?
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