The Masters Golf Tournament, more commonly known as The Masters, is one of four major championships in professional golf. The tournament was started by Augusta National Golf Course designers Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones, who worked with architect Alister MacKenzie to design one of the most challenging courses in the nation. Bobby Jones initially had the idea to design the course, as he wanted to build a golf course after he retired. The Augusta National Golf Course was officially opened in 1933.
The first-ever Augusta National Masters Invitation Tournament was played in 1934. The tournament was won by Horton Smith, and the format of the first tournament was arranged so that golfers played holes 10-18 as the as the first nine, and 1-9 as the second nine. The very next year, the format was reversed, and has remained that way to present day.
In the 1935 tournament, Gene Sarazen hit a double eagle by sinking a shot from the fairway on the par 5 15th hole. Sarazen would go on to win the tournament in a 36-hole playoff with Craig Wood. Four years later in 1939, the Augusta National Invitation Tournament would switch names to become what we now know as The Masters. The Masters was not played from 1943-45 due to WWII. Instead, the Augusta National grounds were used to raise cattle and turkeys to help the war effort.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus dominated the tournament. These three key players won the event 11 times during that span of 20 years. In 1975, Lee Elder became the first black player to qualify for the Masters. He would play in the tournament fifteen years before the first black player was admitted as a member to Augusta National.
Between the years of 1980 and 2000, non-American golfers took eleven victories in those twenty years. This was the longest streak for non-American golfers in any major U.S. tournament since the early U.S. Open years. In 1986, Jack Nicklaus became the oldest player to win the Masters, winning for a sixth time at the age of 46. In 1997, Tiger Woods won the Masters by twelve shots at the age of 21, breaking the long-standing scoring record and also breaking the record for youngest player to win the Masters.
The Augusta National Golf Course has been adjusted several times over the years. In 1998, the course measured 6925 yards from tee to pin on all holes. The course was adjusted to 7270 yards for 2002 and to 7445 yards in 2006. These adjustments have brought several criticisms, but most competitive players have defended the course as freshly challenging.
Tickets for the Masters tournament are not super-expensive – rather, they are hard to get. Even the practice rounds are difficult to get into, as applications for practice round tickets must be made almost a year in advance just to get your name in a random drawing pool. Tickets to the tournament are only sold to members of a patrons list, which is closed. A waiting list for patrons has opened and closed periodically since 1972. As of 2008, The Masters has allowed patrons to accompany a child between the ages of 8-16 to the tournament for free.