The Masters - Golf Tournament

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  1. History
  2. Qualification
  3. Format
  4. The Course
  5. Traditions
  6. Prizes
  7. Records
  8. Trivia
  9. Further Reading
  10. The Masters - Golf Tournament will start on the 9th of April 2015.

Of the four majors in golf, The Masters is undoubtedly the one that enjoys the highest profile. The famous green winner’s jacket is one of the most prestigious prizes in all of sport and there’s not a golfer who doesn’t dream of having one cut to their measurements.

In this guide we take you through all you need to know about the tournament.


The tournament, originally known as ‘The Augusta National Invitational’ started in 1934, three years after the club was founded by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts. The very first tournament featured a different course layout, with the last nine holes serving as the first and vice versa. This was reversed the following year and has remained that was until the present day.

The field originally featured just featured friends of Bobby Jones who wanted to put on a tournament after having his application to have the course host US Open rejected on the basis that the hot weather in Georgia would be too stifling for the players.

From there the tournament grew in stature, attracting stars from across the nation. Indeed, the second contest seeing one of the famous shots of all time as Gene Sarazen scored a double eagle on the 15th allowing him to tie with leader Craig Wood and eventually beat him in a play off. This piece of high drama, which is still talked about today as one of the most thrilling moments in any game of golf, helped to put the Augusta National Invitational on the map.

Soon the club was and the tournament were seen as being of central importance to golf, and over the decades each passing tournament only acted to cement the legend. Today The Masters is the biggest prize in the game and draws its field from all over the globe.


The Masters is an invitational, which means, unlike other major championships players can only take part if selected to by The Augusta National Golf Club, the private club that hosts the competition each year (the fixed venue is another stand out feature of The Masters – the other major tournaments are held at different courses year on year). As an invitational, The Masters does have a relatively small field, however, the games major talents are not overlooked. Indeed, whilst the board of the club can technically invite anyone they choose, they have a protocol in place whereby anyone who meets one of the following criteria will be issued an invitation;

  • Past winners.
  • Players who’ve won the US Open in the last five years.
  • Player’s who’ve won the British Open in the last five years.
  • PGA Champions of the last five years.
  • Winners of The Players Championship in the last three years.
  • The current US Amateur Champion, and the runner up.
  • The current British Amateur Champion.
  • The current Asian Amateur Champion.
  • The Current Amateur Public Links Championship.
  • Current US Mid-Amateur Champion.
  • The top 16 finishers from the previous year.
  • The top eight finishers from the previous US Open.
  • The top four from the previous PGA Championship.
  • Players who won a PGA Tour event that earned them a full point for season ending Tour Championship since the last Masters.
  • Players who qualified for the last season-ending Tour Championship.
  • The top 50 on the Final Official Golf World Rankings of the previous calendar year.
  • The top 50 on the Final Official Golf World Rankings the week before the contest.

The Format

The tournament starts on the second Thursday of April and runs for four days, ending on Sunday. There are four complete rounds of 18 holes, one played on each of the four days. Thanks to the small field (normally around 90-110), players can proceed around the course in groups of three.

After the first two days, the field is cut down. At this point only those who are within 50 places of the leader or within 10 strokes of his score can continue. This reduced field then goes on to play two more rounds. After this, whoever is in the lead takes the win. If two or more players are tied at the end of this time then they play a sudden death round until a winner is produced.

The Course

Augusta is a legendary course that has gone through a number of changes for the years, with as many as 15 architects leaving their mark. Each hole is named after a certain plant, harking back to its former manifestation as a nursery. The holes are as follows.

As well as being highly difficult, the course is also spectacularly beautiful. But don’t just take our word for it, go on a virtual tour of the Augusta course here.


There are a number of Masters traditions that are observed each year. These include:

  • The Par 3 Contest: This is a casual 9 hole contest that takes place before the main competition. It is played by honoraries, past champions and current participants. Often players’ family members act as caddies, and some players simply walk the course, not posting a score, and letting their caddies take a few shots. As the name suggests, every hole on this mini course is a par 3. It’s been noted that no one has ever won the masters having won the par 3 competition in the same year, which may be why not all players post a score!
  • The Opening Tee Shot: From 1963 onwards the tournament proper has been opened by a tee shot from a past legend.
  • The Champions Dinner: On the Tuesday before the tournament a dinner is held to which only past champions and select club members are invited. The defending champion acts as host and is allowed to select the menu. They often choose a dish associated with the region from which they hail. Past dishes have ranged from haggis, to bobotie.
  • The Jacket: Winners get a green members jacket which they are only allowed to keep for a year. They then give it to the club to keep for them whenever they visit (it’s the attire worn by members when on the grounds). The defending champion puts the jacket onto the new winner on the 18th hole in front of the fans once the tournament is over. When Jack Nicklaus became the first champion to win back to back Masters, put it on himself.

PrizesAs well as the jacket, there are a number of other prizes on offer at The Masters.

  • The winner receives close to $1.5 million in cash.
  • The winner also gets a gold medal and their name is engrave on The Masters trophy.
  • The winner is made a member of the Augusta National club.
  • For the next five years a Masters champion automatically qualifies for the PGA tour and all three of the other majors. They are also eligible for The Masters for the rest of their life.
  • At the end of each day, the player with the lowest score for that day wins a crystal vase.
  • Anyone who scores an albatross or a hole in one receives a large crystal bowl.
  • Players win a pair of crystal goblets for every eagle they hole.
  • The winner of the par 3 contest wins a crystal bowl.


Here’s a look at some of the records that have been set over the course of the competition’s history.

  • With six wins, Jack Nicklaus is the most successful player to have played The Masters. As well as the most wins he also has the most top ten finishes (22) and the most cuts made (37).
  • Jack Nicklaus has holed 21 eagles at The Masters, more than anyone else. With 506 he is also the record holder for birdies.
  • The last of his six wins also set the record for the oldest player to win the tournament at 46.
  • At the other end of the scale Tiger Woods, at 21, was the youngest player ever to get his hands on the green jacket.
  • Woods can also claim the biggest ever winning margin. He won the contest at 12 strokes below his nearest rival finishing 18 under par in the process – the best score ever posted at a Masters.
  • In 2013 Guan Tianlang not only played the tournament, but made the cut. He was only 14 years old, the youngest competitor ever.
  • Gary Player has been involved more times than any other golfer having been to The Masters 52 times.
  • The best score for a single round at The Masters is 63. This record is shared by Nick Price and Greg Norman and is the best score for a round in any major tournament.
  • On three occasions a score of +1 has been good enough to win the contest. This is the highest winning score so far.
  • An albatross has only been holed four times in the history of The Masters. The last was by Louis Oosthuizen in 2013.
  • On four occasions The Masters have been one by a birdie secured on the last hole, with a golfers final put.
  • Despite all his other records, Jack Nicklaus is narrowly beaten to the record for best average score at The Masters. Fred Couples is just ahead of him with 71.89.
  • Hole 16 has seen 15 holes in one during Masters play, making it the most generous hole on the course.
  • The worst score on a hole ever in a Masters tournament was scored on hole 12 in 1951 when poor Dow Finsterwald finished ten over on it.

Masters TriviaLet’s round off with a few more fun facts.

  • The tournament was on hold throughout WWII. To help with the war effort the grounds were used to rear livestock.
  • The lane that leads from the entrance to the clubhouse is lined with magnolia trees that have been there from the 1850s.
  • There’s a room at the top of the clubhouse called the crow’s nest. Amateur players are allowed to lodge there during the tournament.
  • There are three bridges on the course which are all dedicated to past greats; Hogan, Nelson and Sarazen.
  • Former president Eisenhower was a member of the Augusta National club. There is a cabin and a lake on the club grounds named after him. He also had a tree, but it had to be removed recently after being damaged in a storm. This actually would’ve pleased Eisenhower. He motioned that it should be removed as he was always hitting it.
  • The 11th, 12th and 13th holes are known as ‘Amen Corner’. The phrase was coined by a sports journalist who wanted to give a catchy name to the area of the course where much of the crucial action took place. He took the name from a jazz record.

Further Reading

HoleName Length in YardsPar
1 Tea Hole 445 4
2 Pink Dogwood 575 5
3 Flowering Peach 350 4
4 Flowering Crab Apple 240 3
5 Magnolia 455 4
6 Juniper 450 4
7 Pampas 450 4
8 Yellow Jasmine 570 5
9 Carolina Cherry 460 4
10 Camellia 495 4
11 White Dogwood 505 4
12 Golden Bell 155 3
13 Azalea 510 5
14 Chinese Fir 440 4
15 Firethorn 530 5
16 Redbud 170 3
17 Nandina 440 4
18 Holly 465 4

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