If you are a golfer, even one with a 25 handicap, you look forward anxiously to this week's tournament in Augusta. It is Masters week after all. No other sporting event says spring quite like this one. Everything is gorgeous and inviting and especially green. Except of course the equally beautiful Magnolia trees that line the entrance to this one of a kind golf club.
Augusta National is filled with memories of it's glorious past. And every year I'm reminded of just how amazing and wondrous Bobby Jones' creation has become. So the following are some fun facts that belong solely to the most storied golf course in America:
It wasn't always called the Masters. For the first four years of the tournament's existence it was called simply The Augusta National Invitational. The name was changed in 1939, much to the chagrin of the normally humble Jones.
Only one man has won the Masters twice without actually ever winning the Masters. Huh, you say? Well Horton Smith won two of the first three tournaments. But remember it wasn't called the Masters then. So technically...
In 1939 club members began wearing green jackets so they would be easy to spot if patrons needed help or just wanted to have a question answered. It wasn't until 1949 that the tradition of awarding a green jacket to the tournament champion began. And the winner of that first famous fashion statement was the great Sam Snead.
If you're a golf fan you have no doubt heard of Gene Sarazen's double eagle in the 1935 tournament. But you might not know of the moments leading up to that original "shot heard 'round the world." Sarazen was playing alongside the inimitable Walter Hagen and was standing on the fairway of the par five 15th hole cautiously deliberating on what club to use for his second shot.
Suddenly from the side of the fairway Gene heard Hagen's boisterous voice. " Hurry up will 'ya? I've got a date tonight." Well Sarazen quickly grabbed his 4 wood and promptly belted it 235 yards into the hole for the albatross.
From 1943 through 1945 the tournament was suspended because of World War II. That in itself is not very surprising. What is somewhat astonishing though is the leaders of the club decided to raise turkeys and cows on the property to help the war effort. That's right, for three years the famous golf course was relegated to farm status.
The idea of holding a Champions Dinner during the week of the Masters did not come about until 1952. It was Ben Hogan who came up with it and the previous winners all quickly agreed. Many jokingly believed Hogan just wanted to get his peers together in one place to regale them with stories of his victories.
You can add innovative to your descriptions of the 1967 tournament. That was the year that the Masters became the first sporting event of any kind to be broadcast live overseas. Prior to this all sporting events broadcast overseas had been tape delayed. The BBC broadcast the tournament back to England via satellite and changed sports television viewing forever.
1982 was a very important year at Augusta National. For that was the first year that participants could bring there own caddies to the tournament. In all previous years each player was assigned a local caddie for the duration of the week. The new rule change was sad for the local guys, who knew the course better than any other caddies possibly could.
I'll finish with this little nugget about the Masters. The oldest person to win the event was of course the G.O.A.T., Jack Nicklaus. "The Golden Bear" won his sixth green jacket in the 1986 tournament at the tender age of 46. Phil Mickelson, winner of three green jackets himself, is now 46 years old.
So who knows? Right?
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