Little Bits of History

Elite Golf

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 22, 2014
Augusta National Invitational Tournament in 1934

Augusta National Invitational Tournament in 1934

March 22, 1934: The first Augusta National Invitational Tournament is held. This was the original name for what is today called the Masters Tournament. It is one fo the four major championships in professional golf with the other three being: the US Open, The Open Championship, and the PGA Championship. Prior to this, the majors were four tournaments: two British – The Open Championship and The Amateur Championship; and two American – the US Open and the US Amateur. There was a substantial rise in the number of golfers in the 1940s and 50s and eventually the “major championships” came to mean those first listed above.

There is no real definitive line for the change, but it was around Arnold Palmer’s 1960 season. He won both the Masters and the US Open and claimed if he could win the Open Championship and the PGA Championship to finish, he would have won a grand slam that would rival Bobby Jones’ 1930 wins. Other serious games were also considered “big” wins, such as the Western Open and the North and South Open as well as the British PGA Matchplay Championship. During the 1950s the World Championship of Golf was also considered a big win and the first place purse was nearly ten times any other event. However, the sponsor pulled the plug and the last game was held in 1957.

Bobby Jones built Augusta National after he retired from golf. He and Clifford Roberts found a spot in Augusta, Georgia which had been an indigo plantation in the early 1800s and plant nursery since 1857. Alister MacKenzie was hired to help with the design and work began in 1931 with the course formally opening in 1933. The course was sensitively designed in MacKenzie’s signature style and the 18 holes have a 72 par rating, measuring 7,435 yards today (6,800  yards when built). Since 1949, a green jacket has been awarded to the winner who must return it to the clubhouse one year after his victory. Usually only first-time winners remove the jacket from the club’s grounds and repeat winners usually use the same jacket from previous wins.

Horton Smith won the first championship in 1934 at four under par. Jack Nicklaus has won the most Masters (six) as well as being the oldest player to win when he took the jacket in 1986. Tiger Woods has been the youngest player to win and in that initial game he also had the widest winning margin and the lowest winning score. His score of 270 was eighteen under par and twelve strokes ahead of the second place golfer. Gary Player has made the most appearances at the Masters with 52 and made the most successive cuts at 23. Nick Price and Greg Norman share with lowest round scores of 63. There have been three times when a winning score was actually one above par: 1954, Sam Snead; 1956, Jack Burke, Jr.; and 2007, Zack Johnson. The current champion is Adam Scott who had a nine under score in 2013. This year’s tournament is scheduled for April 10 through the 13.

I guess there is nothing that will get your mind off everything like golf. I have never been depressed enough to take up the game, but they say you get so sore at yourself you forget to hate your enemies. – Will Rogers

It is impossible to imagine Goethe or Beethoven being good at billiards or golf. – H. L. Mencken

If you are caught on a golf course during a storm and are afraid of lightning, hold up a 1-iron. Not even God can hit a 1-iron. – Lee Trevino

Don’t force your kids into sports. I never was. To this day, my dad has never asked me to go play golf. I ask him. It’s the child’s desire to play that matters, not the parent’s desire to have the child play. Fun. Keep it fun. – Tiger Woods

Also on this day: Laser – In 1960, the laser was patented.
Hockey is Rough – In 1989, Clint Malarchuk was hurt during a hockey game.
Flying Wallendas – In 1978, Karl Wallenda died from a fall.
Preschool Predicament – In 1984, the McMartin Preschool indictments were brought.