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The Masters: History

The Masters Tournament is one of professional golfs four Major Championships. It was started by Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones and is also known as The US Masters or simply The Masters. Held each year during the first full week of April, it is the first of the majors to be played and the only one to be held at the same location each year – The Augusta National Golf Club.

Designed in 1933 by Bobby Jones and course architect, Alister MacKenzie, the Augusta National Golf Club is a private golf club in Augusta, Georgia, in the USA. Over the years it has been entirely redesigned and modifications have been made by many different architects. In remembrance of its former life as a plant nursery, each hole on the golf course has become associated with the name of a tree or shrub such as Pink Dogwood, Flowering Peach and Azalea.

The Masters began on March 22, 1934 and was originally known as Augusta National Invitational Tournament. The first tournament, won by Horton Smith, was played with current holes 10 through 18 played as the first nine, and 1 through 9 as the second nine. In 1935, the course was reversed permanently to its current layout. The Augusta National Golf Club, the present name, was adopted in 1939.

A number of traditions surround the tournament such as The Champions Dinner is held on the Tuesday before the tournament. The Champions Dinner is only open to past champions and selected board members of the Augusta National Golf Club. The defending champion plays host and the menu selection, usually a dish from their home region is prepared by the Masters chef.

Since 1960, a semi-social contest at the par-3 course has been played on the day before the first round. To commence play on the morning of the first round, legendary golfers (usually past champions) hit an honorary tee. This routine began in 1963 and has included Fred McLeod, Jock Hutchinson, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player.

Since 1949, a green jacket has been awarded to the champion who must return it to the clubhouse one year after victory. The winner of the previous year's Masters Tournament puts the jacket on the current winner at the end of the tournament.

The tournament is an official ‘money event’ on the PGA Tour, the European Tour, and the Japan Golf Tour. Because it is an invitational event held by the Augusta National Golf Club, the field of players is smaller than that of the other major championships.

The total prize money for the Masters Tournament has grown over the years. Horton Smith, the winner in the inaugural year, received $1,500 of a $5,000 purse. In 1963, Nicklaus received $20,000 and $144,000 after his victory in 1986. In 2014 $1,620,000 went to the winner from a $9,000,000 purse.

In addition to monetary awards and the coveted green jacket, a gold medal is received by winners of the tournament and their names are engraved on the actual silver Masters trophy, depicting the clubhouse, which remains at Augusta National. Since 1993, winners have received a sterling silver replica of the trophy.

Several awards are presented to players performing exceptional feats during the tournament such as ending the day with the daily lowest score, scoring a hole-in-one or a double eagle, and winning the par 3 competition played the day before the tournament begins. These awards include crystal vases, bowels and goblets.

Because the tournament was established by the amateur golfer Bobby Jones, the Masters has a tradition of honoring amateur golf and it invites winners of the most prestigious amateur tournaments in the world.

Winning the Masters, as with the other majors, gives golfers several privileges which make their career more secure. Masters champions automatically earn a lifetime invitation to the Masters and are invited to play in the other three majors, the U.S. Open, The Open Championship, and the PGA Championship for the next five years. This is with the exception of amateur winners, unless they turn pro within the five-year period.

Through 1982, players were required to use the services of an Augusta National Club caddy, always an African American male, until 1983 when players were allowed the option of using their own caddy. The Masters requires a uniform consisting of a white jumpsuit, a green Masters cap, and white tennis shoes to be worn by all caddies. On the back of his caddie’s uniform is the surname of each player.

The day after the tournament closes, The Bobby Jones Scholars from The University of St. Andrews in Scotland play a four-ball round on the course after which the process of repairing and restoring the grounds is started by the green keepers.