Do you love the Masters? We do, and we are very excited to tell you why. Although the Masters only comes around once a year, we are all convinced that it’s the most special golf tournament of the year which makes us excited for April every year.
But what makes The Masters so special? Why is this the only golf tournament that non-golfers most likely watch? We are going to examine just that, we will get into the details that make The Masters exactly what it is…SPECIAL!
We will examine the following topics and give you an all encompassing view of each below:
What is the Masters?
The Masters is the first major golf tournament of the PGA Tour which has been home to some of the greatest golf moments of all time. The Masters feature the smallest field of any major golf championship with their chance to compete for the coveted green jacket and their place in history. “The Green Jacket” is the most coveted prize in golf and the majority of every golfer dreams of wearing that jacket one day.
How did the Green Jacket Start?
The idea of the green jacket originated with club co-founder Clifford Roberts. Many believe it is because he wanted patrons visiting during the tournament to be able to readily identify members. Roberts wanted the “non-members” to easily identify members who could potentially assist their guests, if needed. It has no become an icon in the golfing world.
Another fascinating piece about the Green Jacket is that the current Masters champion is the only owner permitted to remove it from the grounds of Augusta National, and only for a period of one year.
So that means after winning the Green Jacket you have to bring it back the next year and if you don’t win the Master’s that year, your jacket stays in Augusta. Other than that one exception no other Green Jacket is ever allowed to leave Augusta National for any reason.
Where is the Masters?
The Masters are played at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia. Augusta National was founded by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts and designed by Alister MacKenzie, and opened in early 1932. Bobby and Cliff used a 365-acre site which was home of a nursery called Fruitland. Jones’ vision was to create a winter golf destination in Georgia. Alister designed some truly remarkable holes featuring some amazing sites.
- Greens – Hard, fast, and meticulously maintained bentgrass. The greens have an underground irrigation and ventilation system called the “SubAir System” which basically acts as an automatic water suction system. Many other top rank courses such as Pebble Beach, East Lake, Citi Field, and Citizens Bank Park have installed the same system.
- “Sand” Traps – Augusta’s bunkers are not filled with sand rather material from feldspar mines in North Carolina. Feldspar is actually rock that flakes easily giving the appearance of sand
- Fairways – Bentgrass fairways feature a short rough which was added in 1999 to encourage better accuracy when driving. What you don’t see on TV is that there is a grounds keeper behind ever group replacing divots with green sand mixed with grass seeds giving the appearance of perfection on TV, this is just one reason why The Masters are special
There are so many “special” features of this course but I will focus on those that have now become famous. Have you heard of these before? “The Big Oak Tree,”Eisenhower Tree, Ike’s Pond, Rae’s Creek, Hogan’s Bridge and best of all “Amen Corner.” Let’s start with “The Big Oak Tree.”
The Big Oak Tree
The big oak tree sits near the clubhouse and it has been said that it “watches” over the club house. You can understand why because its now stands over 55 feet tall and it’s limbs stretch 95 feet (that’s a third of a football field) from one side to the other. The tree’s diameter is 5 feet 5 inches round (bigger than the width of an average car) making it one of the larges oaks in the United States. The estimated lifespan of an oak is 200-300 years but Augusta National is helping it a bit to reach an even longer life with some cabling support and preservation.
Some call it “Eisenhower’s Pine” but I like Eisenhower’s Tree better. (plus it’s also more popular.) It used to be located on the 17th hole 210 yards from the tee. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was a member at Augusta National hit that tree so many times that he proposed that it be cut down. The board successfully lobbied President Eisenhower against this and kept it in play.
Unfortunately in 2014 was eventually cut down due to an ice storm. Not to worry though Augusta National Golf Club saved two grafts and a seedling from Eisenhower’s Tree and eventually will replant it. A location has not been determined yet.
Ike’s Pond is a spring-fed, three-acre pond on the eastern part of the Augusta National Golf Club grounds. Number 8 and 9 holes play around Ike’s Pond. Ike’s pond is man-made, and named after World War II General and United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower who suggested its creation.
Eisenhower loved to fish and suggested to Augusta National founder and chairman Clifford Roberts that building a dam to impound the spring would create such a great fishing hold. Roberts liked the idea. The dam was built right where Eisenhower suggested, and Ike’s Pond was created.
Rae’s Creek cuts across the southeastern corner of the Augusta National property. It flows along the back of the 11th green, in front of the 12th green, and ahead of the 13th tee. A tributary (but not Rae’s Creek itself) snakes up the side of the 13th fairway and crosses in front of the 13th green.
Rae’s Creek is named after John Rae who’s home was built on the creek and died in 1789. In 1765 Rae built a Grist mill on the banks of the creek and was used as a fortress that kept local residents safe against Indian attacks.
We love Ben Hogan and you should to. Not because he was the best golfer of all time (I guess some would argue that point) but because he believed in EXCELLENCE in every aspect of life. Ben Hogan won the master’s in 1953 with then a record score of 274 which prompted Augusta’s leadership to name the bridge after Ben Hogan.
Hogan’s bridge spans across Rae’s Creek and is topped with artificial turf. His bridge allows players to cross Rae’s creek and get to the 12th green. A plaque was placed at the mouth of the bridge to commemorate his record.
“This bridge dedicated April 2, 1958, to commemorate Ben Hogan’s record score for four rounds of 274 in 1953. Made up of rounds of 70, 69, 66 and 69. This score will always stand as one of the very finest accomplishments in competitive golf and may even stand for all time as the record for The Masters tournament.”
Unfortunately Ben Hogan’s record held up for just a few years as Jack Nicklaus bettered that score in 1965.
Tucked away in the corner of the Cathedral of the Pines, Amen Corner is the most notable mystique of the masters. Augusta National does not shy away from the religious references within their golf club as they respect the foundation and history of their course.
Amen Corner is a breathtaking piece of golfing history which stretches from holes 11, 12, and 13. It is an iconic stretch of holes and the Mecca for golf fans as well as Master’s players. It was first used in print by author Herbert Warren Wind in his April 21, 1958, Sports Illustrated article about the Masters that year. He was simply looking for a catchy phrase for his article.
Since then, Amen Corner has been know as the place where players get their prayers answered (sometimes) as in 1958 when Arnold Palmer outlasted Ken Venturi to win the tournament with a heroic escapes at Amen Corner. in 1937 Byron Nelson’s bridge – eagle at the 12 and 13th in the 1937 masters. Sam Snead’s water save at 12 in 1949 that sparked him to victory.
On the flip side it appeared Jordan Spieth’s prayers were not answered when his quadruple bogey on 12 during Sunday’s final round in 2016 cost him his 2-stroke lead and the Green Jacket.
The Masters tournament cannot be compared to any other tournament in the world! The course, the field, the history, cannot be beat. It will give you everything you need and makes you beg for more. If you are lucky enough to have attended a Masters event or better yet played Augusta National Golf Club consider yourself one of the lucky ones because you have experienced one of the most magnificent golf venues of all time!