Our family looks forward to this week every year, , , yep, it’s time for, , ,
If you are a golfer and have never been to Augusta National Golf Club, you can’t imagine what you have missed. When you first walk onto the grounds, you know this is something special.
As you walk past the historic clubhouse and out to the first tee you can see out over the course and you sense something magical about the place. This is truly hallowed ground with rich history and tradition unlike any other place in golf with possibly the exception of St. Andrews in Scotland.
One of the first things you notice is how elevated you are and how hilly the course is. The clubhouse and first tee actually sit high above most of the grounds, , , 200 feet higher than #12 and Rae’s Creek. When you walk the course, you learn firsthand how hilly it is; I can’t think of a single flat hole unless it is the short and dangerous par-3 12th.
The Masters Invitational Golf Tournament started in 1934 by Bobby Jones and a few of his friends. It has become one of the best and most recognized tournaments in the world.
As I prepare to watch the 2nd round of this year’s tournament, I thought it would be fun to write a post and share some of the interesting things about this great event.
A number of traditions and iconic images come to mind when you think of The Masters, , , things like, , ,
- Bobby Jones – Bobby Jones is Augusta National. A truly heartwarming scene for all who remember him was when he would go out to the course to watch some of the action in his later years.
- Amen corner - Holes 11, 12 and 13, , , one of the most scenic and most treacherous walks in golf and always deliver some great moments in the tournament.
- Hole #12, , , shortest and hardest - Hole 12, a par-3 across Rae’s Creek is usually the hardest hole even though it is the shortest. As I write this, Matt Kuchar has just made double bogey and Graeme McDowell is in process of making triple bogey 6, , , little wonder some call this hole the “toughest par-3 in golf.
- Gene Sarazen’s double eagle – Gene Sarazen hit a 4-wood into the hole for a 2 on the par-5 15th in the 1935 tournament. He goes on to win the tournament in a 36-hole playoff against Craig Wood.
- Amateurs - Something Bobby Jones felt was important was to include the best amateur golfers, , , there are 6 in this year’s tournament.
- Palmer, Nicklaus, and Player - Arnold Palmer helped put Augusta on the map as he won the ’58, ’60, ’62, and ’64 Masters tournaments just as TV coverage was coming into play. His charismatic style and The Masters created tremendous growth in golf. Jack Nicklaus has won the most with 6 victories, , , his most popular was in 1986 as a 46-year old, still the oldest to win. His 30 on the back remains one of the most memorable rounds in golf. Gary Player was the first international player to win in 1961 and has won three times. Gary played in his 52nd Masters this week. All past champions have an automatic invitation to play in the tournament every year.
- The Crows Nest - A room in the tower of the clubhouse is designated for amateur players, , , a unique and memorable event for those who get to stay there.
- The Masters trophy - A silver replica of the clubhouse.
- Crystal goblets for eagles – Make an eagle and you are awarded a pair of crystal goblets.
- Champion’s dinner – The previous year’s winner hosts a dinner for all past champions, , , he picks the menu and organizes the festivities. It began when Ben Hogan invited past champions to a 1952 dinner at the club before the tournament started.
- Roars of the crowd heard through the pines - You can tell what goes on in the tournament from the roars, , , even to an extent who is doing it. There are birdie roars, there are eagle roars, , , and there are Nicklaus and Palmer roars of old and the Tiger and Michelson roars of today.
- Green, , , everything green - From fan bleachers, TV towers, sandwich wrappers to scoreboards, winner’s jackets and especially the grounds with not a blade of grass out of place, , , everything is a beautiful green at The Masters.
- The Green Jacket - All winners receive a green Augusta National member’s jacket, , , but you aren’t allowed to take it with you, , , just ask Gary Player who mistakenly took his with him. A phone call from the club requested prompt return of the jacket. First green jacket was awarded to Sam Snead in 1949.
- Hogan Bridge - The bridge crossing Rae’s Creek on the 12th hole was dedicated to past champion, Ben Hogan.
- Ceremonial first tee shot - The tournament begins with a tee shot from one of the great past champions.
- Tiger Woods - Tiger has won 4 times already, beat everyone by 12 shots in the 1997 tournament and is the youngest champion.
- Magnolia Lane – The drive into the club is lined with huge magnolia trees and one of the most impressive entries into any club.
- Azaleas and dogwood - The 13th hole is one of the most beautiful in the world with azaleas and dogwood in full bloom, , , and Rae’s Creek accents it beautifully.
- Butler Cabins - Several cabins line the 10th hole, , , Butler Cabin is used for TV commentaries.
- Rae’s Creek – Rae’s Creek comes into play on 12 and 13, , , it has played a vital part in many championships.
- Eisenhower Tree - President Eisenhower lobbied with members to have a large loblolly pine tree on the 17th hole cut down because he seemed to hit it far too often, , , it is still there but the pros of today have no problem flying over it.
- Phil Mickelson - Phil has won three times now. His spectacular 2nd shot on #13 in last year’s final round will be one to remember for all time.
- Wednesday’s Par-3 contest – It has become a family affair allowing kids and wives to caddie, even hit a shot or make a putt in this event. No winner of the Par-3 Contest has ever won the tournament in the same year.
- Ham sandwiches in green wrappers - A real tradition of the tournament are the ham sandwiches and also the pimento cheese sandwiches. They are wrapped in green paper just in case they find the ground instead of the green trash bins. No eye sores or distractions in this tournament.
- Skipping shots on hole #16 - Players like to skip shots across the pond on 16 during a practice round, , , and the fans like it too.
- The back nine on Sunday - The tournament always seems to come down to the back nine of the last day. It’s what all of us dedicated golfers wait for.
There are many, many more traditions and memories of The Masters. It is the best of what golf offers.