MASTERS 101. ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MASTERS…

MASTERS 101. ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE MASTERS…

With the advent of the Corona Virus and its terrible effects on people’s health and lives, unfortunate but necessary decisions have had to be made to protect life and public health.

The cancellation or postponement of the PGA Tour has been one of those decisions, which has undoubtedly affected the modus vivendi of more than 160,000 people in Florida who work actively in the golf industry. 

Postponing the Masters until Thursday 12 of November, has been another of those important decisions, being this tournament the most seen in the world and the one that has the most relevance to the professionals, who every year give their best in their eagerness to be part of the exclusive club of players who have achieved the feat of putting on the long-awaited green jacket.

Miami Plays Golf takes advantage of the involuntary break that the Covid-19 has brought us, to publish in a summary way, everything you need to know about this tournament that for many years has been the most important of the four major championships in professional golf.

The Masters Tournament (usually referred to as simply The Masters, or the U.S. Masters outside of North America is scheduled for the first full week of April, the first major of the year, and unlike the others, it is always held at the same location, Augusta National Golf Club, a private course in the southeastern United States, in the city of Augusta, Georgia.

The Masters was started by amateur champion Bobby Jones and investment banker Clifford Roberts. After his grand slam in 1930, Jones acquired the former plant nursery and co-designed Augusta National with course architect Alister MacKenzie. First played 86 years ago in 1934, the tournament is an official money event on the PGA Tour, the European Tour, and the Japan Golf Tour.  The field of players is smaller than those of the other major championships because it is an invitational event, held by the Augusta National Golf Club.

The tournament has a number of traditions. Since 1949, a green jacket has been awarded to the champion, who  must  return it  to  the clubhouse one year after his victory, although it remains his personal property and is stored with other champions’ jackets in a specially designated cloakroom. In most instances, only a first-time and currently reigning champion may remove his jacket from the club grounds. A golfer who wins the event multiple times uses the same green jacket awarded upon his initial win (unless he needs to be re-fitted with a new jacket).

The Champions Dinner, inaugurated by Ben Hogan in 1952, is held on the Tuesday before each tournament, and is open only to past champions and certain board members of the Augusta National Golf Club. Beginning in 1963, legendary golfers, usually past champions, have hit an honorary tee shot on the morning of the first round to commence play. 

These have included Fred McLeod, Jock Hutchinson, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player. Since 1960, a semi-social contest at the par-3 course has been played on Wednesday, the day before the first round.

Nicklaus has the most Masters wins, with six between 1963 and 1986. Tiger Woods has won five. Palmer has won four. Five have won three titles at Augusta: Jimmy Demaret, Sam Snead, Gary Player, Nick Faldo, and Phil Mickelson. Player, from South Africa, was the first non-American player to win the tournament, in 1961; the second was Seve Ballesteros of Spain, the champion in 1980 and 1983.

The Augusta National course first opened 87 years ago in 1933 and has been modified many times by different architects. Among the changes: greens have been reshaped and, on occasion, entirely re-designed, bunkers have been added, water hazards have been extended, new tee boxes have been built, hundreds of trees have been planted, and several mounds have been installed.

The total prize money for the 2019 tournament was 11,500,000, with $2,070,000 going to the winner. In the inaugural year of 1934, the winner Horton Smith received $1,500 out of a $5,000 purse. After Nicklaus’s first win in 1963, he received $20,000, while after his final victory in 1986 he won $144,000. In recent years the purse has grown quickly. Between 2001 and 2014, the winner’s share grew by $612,000, and the purse grew by $3,400,000.

There are several awards presented to players who perform exceptional feats during the tournament. The player who has the daily lowest score receives a crystal vase, while players who score a hole-in-one or a double eagle win a large crystal bowl. For each eagle a player makes he receives a pair of crystal goblets. In addition to the green jacket, winners of the tournament receive a gold medal. In 2017, a green jacket that was found at a thrift store in 1994 was sold at auction for $139,000

Until 1983, all players in the Masters were required to use the services of an Augusta National Club caddie, who by club tradition was always an African American man. Indeed, club co-founder Clifford Roberts is reputed to have said, «As long as I’m alive, golfers will be white, and caddies will be black.” Since 1983—six years after Roberts’s death in 1977—players have been allowed the option of bringing their own caddie to the tournament.

The Masters requires caddies to wear a uniform consisting of a white jumpsuit, a green Masters cap, and white tennis shoes. The surname, and sometimes first initial, of each player is found on the back of his caddie’s uniform. The defending champion always receives caddie number «1»: other golfers get their caddie numbers from the order in which they register for the tournament. The other majors and some PGA Tour events formerly had a similar policy concerning caddies well into the 1970s; the U.S. Open first allowed players to use their own caddies in 1976

Similar to the other majors, the tournament consists of four rounds at 18 holes each, Thursday through Sunday (when there are no delays). The Masters has a relatively small field of contenders, when compared with other golf tournaments, so the competitors play in groups of three for the first two rounds (36 holes) and the field is not split to start on the 1st and 10th tees, unless weather shortens the available playing time, such as the second round in 1983, fourth round in 2019, and is expected for all four rounds in 2020. The tournament is unique in that it is the only major tournament conducted by a private club rather than a national golf organization like the PGA.

Originally, the Masters was the only tournament to use two-man pairings during the first two rounds. It was also the only event to re-pair based on the leaderboard before Friday’s round, as most tournaments only do this on the weekend. This practice ended in the early 2000s, when the Masters switched to the more standard three-man groups and the groups are now kept intact on Friday, with players sharing the same playing partners in both of the first two rounds. After 36 holes of play, a cut-off score is calculated to reduce the size of the field for the weekend rounds. 

To «make the cut», players must be either in the top 50 places (ties counting), or within 10 strokes of the leader’s score. Following the cut, an additional 36 holes are played over the final two days. Should the fourth round fail to produce a winner, all players tied for the lead enter a sudden-death playoff. Play begins on the 18th hole, followed by the adjacent 10th, repeating until one player remains. 

The Masters has the smallest field of the major championships, with 90–100 players. Unlike other majors, there are no alternates or qualifying tournaments. It is an invitational event, with invitations largely issued on an automatic basis to players who meet published criteria. The top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking are all invited.

Past champions are always eligible, but since 2002 the Augusta National Golf Club has discouraged them from continuing to participate at an advanced age. Some will later become honorary starters.

Invitation categories: Categories 7–11 are honored only if the participants maintain their amateur status prior to the tournament.

Jack Nicklaus has won the most Masters (six) and was 46 years, 82 days old when he won in 1986, making him the oldest winner of the Masters. Nicklaus is the record holder for the most top tens, with 22, and the most cuts made, with 37. The youngest winner of the Masters is Tiger Woods, who was 21 years, 104 days old when he won in 1997. In that year Woods also broke the records for the widest winning margin (12 strokes), and the lowest winning score, with 270 (−18). Jordan Spieth tied his score record in 2015.

In 2013, Guan Tianlang became the youngest player ever to compete in the Masters, at age 14 years, 168 days on the opening day of the tournament; the following day, he became the youngest ever to make the cut at the Masters or any men’s major championship.

Gary Player holds the record for most appearances, with 52. Player also holds the record for the number of consecutive cuts made, with 23 between 1959 and 1982 (Player did not compete in 1973 as he was recovering from recent surgery). He shares this record with Fred Couples, who made his consecutive cuts between 1983 and 2007, not competing in 1987 and 1994.

Nick Price and Greg Norman share the course record of 63, with their rounds coming in 1986 and 1996 respectively.

The highest winning score of 289 (+1) has occurred three times: Sam Snead in 1954, Jack Burke, Jr. in 1956, and Zach Johnson in 2007. Anthony Kim holds the record for most birdies in a round with 11 in 2009 during his second round.

There have been only four double eagles carded in the history of the Masters; the latest was by a contender in the fourth round in 2012. In the penultimate pairing with eventual champion Bubba Watson, Louis Oosthuizen’s 260-yard (238 m) downhill 4 iron from the fairway made the left side of the green at the par-5 second hole, called Pink Dogwood, rolled downhill, and in.

The other two rare occurrences of this feat after Sarazen’s double eagle on the fabled course’s Fire Thorn hole in 1935: Bruce Devlin made double eagle from 248 yards (227 m) out with a 4-wood at the eighth hole (Yellow Jasmine) in the first round in 1967, while Jeff Maggert hit a 3-iron 222 yards (203 m) at the 13th hole (Azalea) in the fourth round in 1994.

Three players share the record for most runner-up finishes with four – Ben Hogan (1942, 1946, 1954, 1955), Tom Weiskopf (1969, 1972, 1974, 1975), and Jack Nicklaus (1964, 1971, 1977, 1981). Nicklaus and Tiger Woods are the only golfers to have won the Masters in three separate decades.

Although tickets for the Masters are not expensive, they are very difficult to come by. Even the practice rounds can be difficult to get into. Applications for practice round tickets have to be made nearly a year in advance and the successful applicants are chosen by random ballot. Tickets to the actual tournament are sold only to members of a patrons list, which is closed. A waiting list for the patrons list was opened in 1972 and closed in 1978. It was reopened in 2000 and subsequently closed once again. In 2008, the Masters also began allowing children (between the ages of 8 and 16) to enter on tournament days free if they are accompanied by the patron who is the owner of his or her badge.

The difficulty in acquiring Masters badges has made the tournament one of the largest events on the secondary-ticket market. A majority of the badges for the Masters are delivered to the same group of patrons, fans, and members each year, and these perennial ticket holders sometimes decide to sell their badges through large ticket marketplaces such as StubHub, TicketCity, and VividSeats. Some of these marketplaces will allow fans to purchase a Masters badge for a single day, as opposed to the traditional 4-day pass.

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