Golf might not necessarily be a sport made for television but there are several events that just ooze excitement and tradition – the greatest of which is undoubtedly The Masters. And after waiting almost a full calendar year, the event returns to Augusta National this weekend in what some believe might just be the most anticipated iteration ever. While much of that has to do with the resurgence of Tiger Woods, who is among the favorites to win, there are plenty of other compelling storylines this year.
However, we didn’t want to focus on the same things other news outlets were discussing this week so, instead, we decided to delve deep into the history of The Masters as well as Augusta National, to bring you 10 facts you might not have known about the 84-year-old event – and it’s fascinating stuff.
1: Green Jackets Were Intended To Be Usher’s Jackets
Now synonymous with The Masters, the green jacket is one of the greatest traditions in all of sport, awarded to the event winner each and every year. It began in 1937, as Masters officials wanted a way to more easily identify club members for guests and, because of that, they elected to give green jackets to members of the club only – an idea originally flirted with for ushers at the event. Almost a dozen years later, Sam Snead was given a green jacket and, just like that, a tradition was born. Since 1990, the jackets have been made by a Cincinnati company, costing $250 to make and taking about one month.
2: Augusta National Raised Animals During World War II
This week, Augusta National will look picture perfect, with manicured grass and well-kept sand traps but that wasn’t necessarily the case during World War II. The 1942 Masters was the last held during the second Great War – just several months after Pearl Harbor – and Augusta cofounders Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts elected to donate their entire proceeds to war charities. With most of the clubs members off to war, it was either cut corners or disband entirely and kiss the event goodbye. Augusta National then let almost 200 cows run on the estate, to keep grass manageable while also providing meat for the surrounding area. The club also purchased more than 1,400 day-old turkeys and asked club members to contribute $100 in order to keep the club operational. Thank goodness it worked.
3: Arnold Palmer Ordered An Arnold Palmer At The Masters
Arnold Palmer is golfing royalty and one of the greatest to ever play the game but his legend far exceeds the game of golf, especially when it comes to tasty beverages. If you’re not aware, the name of iced tea mixed with lemonade is typically called an Arnold Palmer and after playing his final nine holes at the Masters in 2004, the Pennsylvania native often returned to the course and even ordered his namesake drink. Sitting out in front of the clubhouse, drinking the beverage, one reporter by the name of Steve Politti just had to know who the golf icon ordered the drink – I mean, does he say “I’ll have a large me, please?” According to one waitress, he said, “I’ll have a Mr. Palmer” and accompanied it with a wink.
4: The Course Designer Never Saw It Finished
Creating one of golf’s most majestic courses was no easy undertaking, which might just be why physician-turned-golf-architect Dr. Alister MacKenzie never got to see his creation completed. Dr. MacKenzie passed away in 1934, with little money to his name while begging for his fee, and never saw his finished work, since the inaugural Masters tournament was held three years after his death. According to The Making of the Masters, a book by David Owen, Dr. MacKenzie said: “I am at the end of my tether, no-one has paid me a cent since last June, we have mortgaged everything we have…” One can only wonder what he would’ve thought of the inaugural event and what it ultimately became.
5: Augusta National Was Originally Supposed To Have 19 Holes
It was the hole that never was, but during the course’s inception the club flirted with an additional hole, one that was dubbed Double or Quits, the British term for “double or nothing.” Ultimately, the idea was abandoned because an additional hole would not only obscure the view from the clubhouse of the final hole but it also just didn’t make sense financially – as the club didn’t have enough money for it. Some historians believe the hole was actually built, though it seems to be a heavily debated conversation.
6: A Masters Jacket Was Once Found At A Thrift Shop
Some golfers spend their entire life dreaming about putting on the infamous green jacket given to the winner of the event but, back in 1994, one Canadian found the award in a local thrift shop. The jacket was purchased for just $5, where it was nestled away in the jacket section, and while it’s unclear exactly who the jacket belonged to, Augusta National confirmed its authenticity, claiming it dates back to the 1950s. Keep in mind, every member of the club gets a green jacket, but only winners of The Masters can take it off of Augusta National’s grounds, which is why it might just be from a winner. Last year, Green Jacket Auctions put the jacket up for sale in a golf memorabilia auction, where it fetched just under $140,000. Who knows, maybe it’s Happy Gilmour’s jacket, because someone did try to steal it?
7: Augusta Was Supposed To Be Home Of The Golf Hall Of Fame
In the early 1940s, the club flirted with the idea of housing the golf hall of fame. Just a few years prior, the National Baseball Hall of Fame opened in Cooperstown, New York and this led the Professional Golfers’ Association to elect seven members of its own to the sport’s highest honor – the only problem was it had neither a building nor a plan for a potential hall of fame. Several different areas of the grounds were recommended, including the hill 250 yards east of the 10th green, an area the club had long been trying to sell. Members wanted it to be more compelling than its baseball counterpart and provide a sensational structural view for golfers, however, in the end, the idea fell through.
8: The Masters Has Seen 28 Hole-In-Ones
Since its inception, The Masters has seen 28 hole-in-ones – the technical term is ace – and all have occurred on the four par-three holes of the course. Some of the more recent notable hole-in-ones include Curtis Strange’s on the 12th hole of the second round in 1988, Adam Scott’s on the 16th hole of the final round in 2012 and, just last year, when Matt Kuchar scored one on the 16th hole of the final round. None of the aforementioned players won it on that specific year, in fact, no player has ever hit a hole-in-one on the year that he’s gone on to win The Masters. Because it’s such a rarity, some of the best ever like Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have never accomplished the feat.
9: The Property Was Purchased For $70,000
In 1931, fresh off announcing his retirement from the PGA, Jones and his partner, Roberts, purchased the 345-acre piece of land for $70,000 – which would be close to $1 million today. Jones wanted ground near his hometown of Atlanta where he could spend the latter days of his life but got so much more than that.
10: The All-Time Worst Round Score Ever At Augusta Is 106
While we would be thrilled to shoot a 106 on our local course, Billy Casper might not be as thrilled about shooting the worst round in Masters history. An ageing Casper decided to take on Augusta National one last time in 2005 – despite a letter from the club asking him to stop playing – and it was a disaster, as he shot 106. But, here’s the thing: after finishing the worst round ever, Casper failed to turn in his scorecard and, because of that, the round is considered “unofficial” and does not count in the record books. That wasn’t the only record he set, however, also snagging the highest single-hole score with 14. That can’t be the best way to go out but, if you ask us, it was pretty sly of him to not hand in the scorecard.