Little-Known Facts About The Masters
March 22, 2012
"The Masters" was coined by Clifford Roberts in 1938 (used starting in 1939), though Bobby Jones was never a fan -- referencing to the tournament as late as 1963 as "the so-called Masters."
The building of Augusta National almost never happened, and it remained an economic burden through World War II: Founded at the beginning of the Great Depression, the original business plan called for 1,800 members, but when the first Masters was held in 1934, the club only had 76 paying members. The club couldn't afford to pay the first winner, Horton Smith (pictured), or any of the top finishers until 17 members chipped in for the purse. In 1946, the delivery of the winner's plaque to Herman Keiser was delayed to give time for the club and its members to pay for the silver.
The original plans for Augusta included two 18-hole courses (a championship course and ladies course), outdoor tennis courts, squash courts, an 18-hole pitch-and-putt course, a bridle path, a couple dozen houses for members and an on-site hotel. In addition, the Dennis Redmond manor house was to be torn down and a new $100,000 clubhouse was to be built. But a lack of funding forced them to build only one course and use the Redmond house for the clubhouse.
Famed golf course architect and Augusta designer Alister MacKenzie died before the grass had been planted -- never playing or seeing the course in its finished form.
Jones and Roberts originally petitioned the USGA to host the 1934 US Open, and only after it was rejected did they decide to host their own annual tournament -- which the PGA officially listed unnamed for the first time in a brief note in their 1934 schedule as one of "four tournaments already scheduled for the spring season at... Augusta National Golf Course, March 22, 23, 24 and 25 ... Details of these events will be given once completed."
Augusta originally planned to have a 19th hole, at the request of Bobby Jones. The idea was to have an extra hole so a losing golfer could have an another opportunity to win back his money in a game of double or nothing. It was to be 90-yards long, uphill towards the clubhouse between the 9th and 18th greens. The idea was dropped partly because of economic reasons and partly because it would impede the view to the 18th green for patrons watching the Masters.
In 1937 Augusta played host to the first PGA Seniors Championship and played a decisive role in creating what is now the Champions Tour. The seniors division of the PGA was established at a meeting of aged professionals held at an Augusta hotel, and the course held the tournament for two years -- the winners being Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod respectively -- before it found a sponsor and moved to Florida.
While now just as iconic as the tournament itself, the green jacket awarded to the Masters winner was originally intended to be an "usher's coat," so to speak. In 1937, members of the club decided to wear green jackets during the tournament so that fans in attendance could easily spot them if they needed to ask questions.
Inspired by the building of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Jones, and Roberts especially, looked to build a golf hall of fame at Augusta, featuring a full miniature version of Augusta, a movie wing, replicas of the books in the library and a driving range. The plan was scrapped because of the start of World War II.
Despite attempts to keep the club open during World War II, Augusta was forced to close in October of 1942. To make money, they used the land to raise cattle and turkey. Toward the end of 1943 Augusta housed over 200 cattle and 1,400 turkeys. The turkeys turned a profit, but with a ceiling on the price of turkey, the high cost of beef, and the cost of repairing the course after the animals grazing made the project a make-even at best endeavor. The course reopened again on Dec 23, 1944.
The Masters was the first tournament to host a 72-hole competition over four days. It was the first to have room to park thousands of cars. It was the first to offer free daily pairing sheets instead of a program. It was the first tournament to be covered nationwide on radio. It was the first to use bleachers. It was the first to use rope galleries, and the first to use private detectives to handle ticket sales and security. It developed the first on-course scoreboard. And it was the first to use the over/under par system we generally use today.
Roberts also directed CBS television crews to show updates of the score by using the scoreboard instead of having the announcers verbalize the leader board. This also had a hand in permanently implementing the over/under system, largely in part because showing the scores in red and green could not be differentiated on black and white televisions.
The Par 3 course. The original plans for Augusta included what MacKenzie called an "Approach and Putt" course to supplement the main course. The plan died because of a lack of money, but MacKenzie still drew up a plan for a full 18-hole, 2,460-yard "short" course (the longest hole to be 190-yards, the shortest would be 60). In 1958, the current 9-hole Par 3 was built. Though originally viewed as a waste of money, it was an instant hit among members.