The Masters golf tournament doesn’t joke around.
It’s a fixture on the sports calendar, and when you speak or write about The Masters, you capitalize The Masters and Augusta National and you speak and write with reverent tones and respect. Or else you probably won’t be invited back.
The Masters begins April 4, but as the saying goes, it doesn’t start until the back nine, excuse me, the second nine on Sunday.
Augusta National and The Masters are synonymous with grace, elegance, and style.
Fans are called patrons.
Cellphones are prohibited. Really.
No running allowed.
Here are 10 mysteries of The Masters revealed. Respectfully, of course.
No. 1: When did The Masters begin?
The Masters began in 1934 and the original name was the Augusta National Invitational Tournament. That lasted until 1939 when Club Chairman Clifford Roberts decided to call it The Masters, declaring the competitors and the winner a Master of golf.
No. 2: Can I get tickets to The Masters?
Heck no. Oh, sorry. No. While ticket prices remain the best buy in all professional sports ($375 for a patron badge for the week), the waiting list has been closed since 2000.
There are a limited number of single-day tickets sold every year via a lottery. Your best bet is to be like me and married to someone with a relative who lives nearby and knows people.
No. 3: Why does the winner get a Green Jacket?
Unlike other events where the winner gets a trophy and/or sprayed with beverages, the winner of The Masters collects a verdant green jacket.
The jackets were the brainchild of golf legend Bobby Jones who noted the red jackets by members at Royal Liverpool in England.
He decided Augusta National members should get green jackets, and during The Masters, wear them so people could seek them out to ask questions.
The winner of The Masters gets a green jacket as a symbol of being an honorary member of Augusta National. Plus, you know, being a wicked awesome golfer. Now imagine those golfers who have yet or never did win a green jacket.
No. 4: Why is The Masters in early April?
The ESPN documentary on former sportswriter Grantland Rice expands on this topic.
Rice was close friends with golf legend and Masters founder Bobby Jones. Rice suggested to Jones that Augusta National host an event right in the sweet spot after spring training but before Opening Day in Major League Baseball. That way sportswriters could stop in Georgia on their way back home to cover the event.
No. 5: Who has won the most Masters Tournaments?
That would be Jack Nicklaus, who has six Masters titles. Tiger Woods is next with five.
Both have been party to some of the most memorable moments in Masters’s history.
No. 6: Why doesn’t the broadcast have a lot of commercials?
This is a case where CBS doesn’t exactly own the rights to broadcast The Masters as much as The Masters lets CBS broadcast the Masters.
Augusta National has a lot of sway in how the tournament is portrayed, and one of those ways is that it hasn’t sold out for more advertising dollars. CBS enjoys prestige. The Masters allows for four minutes of advertising time each hour. No more.
No. 7: Can you really not buy Masters merchandise?
It’s true, the only place to get official Masters merchandise at common retail prices is at the pro shop on the course. Even The Masters webshop has no link to purchasing merchandise, just a few picturesque coffee table books.
Of course, this being 2022, you can google “Masters Merchandise” and shops pop up. These are authentic, but you’re paying almost double.
No. 8: Are the sandwiches really $1.50?
Indeed, you know how the world is money-mad? Sure, Augusta National likes making money but also clings to certain old-world charm. Yes, pimento cheese sandwiches and egg salad sandwiches are each $1.50. You can even get a beer for $5. Five dollars!
I paid $17 for a beer at Madison Square Garden recently. Pimento cheese is a mix of cheddar cheese, pimento peppers (very mild) and mayonnaise.
No. 9: What is the hardest hole on the course?
There is some debate about this one. The 5th hole (named Magnolia, yes, each hole has a name) has been the hardest since it was lengthened a few years ago. It’s a par 4 and clocks in at 495 yards.
Magnolia played as the most difficult hole in both 2020 and 2021, with a historical average of 4.26 strokes per round. But over time both the 10th (Camelia) and 11th (White Dogwood) holes have each played to 4.3 strokes per round.
No. 10: What’s the Amen Corner?
Augusta National holes 11, 12 and 13 were first given the name Amen Corner in a story by Sports Illustrated writer Herbert Wind in 1958. He said later the name came to him from an old jazz record.
Technically, Amen Corner is the second half of 11, all of hole 12 and the first half of 13. Nowadays, the legend has been co-opted to mean that after a golfer plays those holes, he/she is supposed to say “Amen,” thanking the Powers That Be that it’s finally over.
Photo Credit: Associated Press