History of The Masters: Iconic Moments and Evolution of Augusta’s Premier Golf Tournament

Colin McCarthy

History Of The Masters

The Masters Tournament, held annually at Augusta National Golf Club, stands as one of the most prestigious events in the world of golf. Since its inception in 1934, it has been the stage for some of the sport’s most iconic moments.

From Arnold Palmer’s pivotal victory in 1958 to Jack Nicklaus’s record sixth win at age 46 in 1986, the tournament has continually showcased the drama and skill that define professional golf.

Amen Corner, which includes the 11th green, the entire 12th hole, and the 13th tee, has become legendary for its challenging layout and pivotal role in Masters history.

Tiger Woods’s first Masters win in 1997, where he set a 72-hole scoring record with a score of 270, added another unforgettable chapter to the tournament’s rich legacy.

These moments have cemented the Masters as a must-watch event, captivating audiences around the globe.

Early Origins and Establishment

The Masters Tournament has indeed become synonymous with golfing excellence and tradition since its inception in 1934.

Let’s delve into its early origins and establishment.

Founding of Augusta National Golf Club

The Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters Tournament, was founded by amateur golf champion Bobby Jones and investment banker Clifford Roberts.

After achieving a grand slam in golf in 1930, Jones sought to create a premier golf course. He acquired a former plant nursery in Augusta, Georgia, and collaborated with course architect Alister MacKenzie in designing the course.

The Augusta National Golf Club opened in 1933, initially attracting attention for its beautiful yet challenging layout.

The First Masters Tournament

The inaugural Masters Tournament took place in 1934, marking the beginning of what would become one of golf’s most prestigious events.

Initially named the “Augusta National Invitational,” the tournament saw Horton Smith emerge victorious. The event was held in late March, but subsequently moved to the first week of April, becoming a permanent fixture in spring sports.

Though smaller in field size compared to other major championships, the Masters quickly became renowned for its unique traditions and competitive atmosphere, setting the stage for its future prominence in the golfing world.

Evolution Through Decades

The Masters Tournament has evolved significantly over the decades, both in terms of its prestige and its impact on the world of golf.

Let’s explore some key milestones and changes that have shaped the tournament since its inception.

Significant Milestones in the 20th Century

The 20th century was a pivotal period for the Masters Tournament, marked by numerous significant milestones that shaped its history and contributed to its enduring legacy.

Here are some of the most notable milestones from that era:

1930s: Inaugural Tournament (1934)

The Masters Tournament, then known as the Augusta National Invitation Tournament, was first held at Augusta National Golf Club in 1934, with Horton Smith emerging as the winner.

1940s: Green Jacket Tradition (1949)

The iconic green jacket was introduced as the official prize for the winner in 1949, adding a distinctive element to the tournament’s prestige and tradition.

1950s: Television Broadcast (1956)

The Masters Tournament began to be televised nationally in 1956, providing a broader audience with access to the event and significantly elevating its profile.

1960s: Palmer’s Dominance (1960s)

Arnold Palmer asserted his dominance at Augusta National during the 1960s, winning four Masters titles (1958, 1960, 1962, 1964) and captivating fans with his thrilling style of play.

1970s: First International Winner (1970)

Gary Player of South Africa became the first international player to win the Masters Tournament in 1970, paving the way for a more diverse field of competitors.

1980s: Nicklaus’s Sixth Victory (1986)

Jack Nicklaus made history with his remarkable sixth Masters victory in 1986, becoming the oldest winner of the tournament at the age of 46 and cementing his status as one of golf’s greatest champions.

1990s: Woods’s Historic Win (1997)

Tiger Woods made his Masters debut in 1995 and captured his first green jacket in 1997 with a record-breaking performance, winning by a record margin of 12 strokes and becoming the youngest champion in tournament history at the age of 21.

Modern Era Developments

The Masters continued to evolve in the 21st century, with significant updates enhancing the Augusta National Golf Club. For the 2019 Masters Tournament, the fifth hole lengthened by 40 yards (37 meters), from 455 yards to 495 yards.

This change introduced two new gaping bunkers strategically placed on the left side of the fairway, challenging even seasoned golfers.

Innovations in broadcasting have also shaped the modern era. In 2008, ESPN took over early-round coverage from USA Network, while CBS retained its longstanding role.

High-definition broadcasts and new digital platforms like Amen Corner Live, launched in 2006, provided comprehensive coverage of holes 11, 12, and 13.

Masters Extra, introduced in 2007, offered an additional hour of online coverage, showing full-field play before television broadcasts.

These developments reflect the Masters’ dedication to maintaining its esteemed status while embracing modern technologies and challenges, offering an enriching experience for players and audiences alike.

Iconic Traditions

The Masters Tournament is renowned for its rich traditions, which contribute to the event’s allure and prestige. These iconic traditions have been cherished by players and fans alike, adding to the tournament’s unique character and timeless appeal.

Here are some of the most iconic traditions associated with the Masters:

The Green Jacket Ceremony

The Green Jacket Ceremony has been a distinctive part of The Masters since 1949. Each year’s Masters winner receives a green jacket, which signifies honorary membership in the Augusta National Golf Club.

The jacket presentation happens twice: first inside the Butler Cabin in a televised event, then near the 18th green in front of spectators.

Winners keep the jacket for a year, returning it to the club afterward. Sam Snead was the first recipient of the green jacket.

The Champions’ Dinner

The Champions’ Dinner, also known as the Masters Club Dinner, convenes on the Tuesday before the first round of The Masters.

Initiated by Ben Hogan in 1952, the dinner invites all past Masters winners. The previous year’s champion dictates the menu, yet alternative options exist for those with differing tastes.

This event fosters camaraderie among golfing legends, making it a cherished tradition at Augusta National. The Masters tournament itself began in 1934, founded by golf legends Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts.

Held annually at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, it’s one of the four major championships in professional golf.

Notable Records and Wins

The Masters Tournament has seen numerous notable records and historic victories throughout its storied history, with many of golf’s greatest players etching their names into the annals of the sport.

Here are some of the most remarkable records and wins associated with the Masters:

Golfers with Most Masters Titles

Several golfers have left an indelible mark on The Masters by repeatedly winning the prestigious tournament. Jack Nicklaus holds the record with six victories (1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1986). His performances set a benchmark for excellence.

Tiger Woods follows closely, with five titles (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2019). His wins include memorable moments such as his record-breaking 12-stroke victory in 1997.

Arnold Palmer, another legend, won the event four times (1958, 1960, 1962, 1964), solidifying his status as a golfing icon.

Historic Wins and High Moments

Historic victories at The Masters have created unforgettable moments in golf history. Tiger Woods’ 18-under-par win in 1997 remains a landmark, matched only by Jordan Spieth in 2015.

Woods’ victory in 2001 also made him the first golfer to hold all four major championships simultaneously, a feat dubbed the “Tiger Slam.”

Vijay Singh’s win in 2000 marked the beginning of a new millennium in golf, followed by Woods’ consecutive wins in 2001 and 2002, making him only the third golfer to achieve back-to-back titles in Masters history.

Phil Mickelson’s 2004 win stands out as his first major victory, leading to additional triumphs in 2006 and 2010. In 2020, Dustin Johnson set the tournament scoring record with a total of 268, the only 72-hole score in the 260s, underlining his dominance.

Other notable wins include Angel Cabrera’s victory in a sudden-death playoff in 2009 and Zach Johnson’s unexpected triumph in 2007 amidst challenging weather conditions.

The Course and Its Changes

Augusta National Golf Club, the host of the Masters Tournament, is renowned for its pristine beauty, challenging layout, and iconic landmarks.

Over the years, the course has undergone various changes to adapt to the evolution of the game and maintain its status as one of golf’s most revered venues.

Here are some notable aspects of the course and its changes:

Original Design Features

The Augusta National Golf Club, where The Masters Tournament is held, was designed by Bobby Jones and Alister MacKenzie. Opened in 1933, the course initially spanned 6,800 yards.

Known for its strategic layout, Augusta utilized the natural landscape to create a challenging yet visually stunning environment.

Notable features included wide fairways, undulating greens, and strategically placed bunkers and water hazards.

These elements combined to demand precision and strategic play from competitors, with each hole offering unique challenges.

Adaptations and Renovations Over the Years

In response to advances in golf equipment and player conditioning, Augusta National has continually evolved. In 2002, the course expanded from 6,925 yards to 7,270 yards, adding 345 yards.

Another significant renovation came in 2006, extending the course to 7,445 yards. Fairway bunkers on three holes were reshaped to challenge long hitters.

Key critics, including Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Tiger Woods, expressed concerns, but others like Gary Player defended the updates. The course is expected to keep adapting, ensuring it remains a test for future generations of golfers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the Masters Green Jacket green?

The Masters Green Jacket is green to make Augusta National Golf Club members easily identifiable to visitors. Initially, the colors red, yellow, and “Georgia peach” were considered, but the decision was made to use verdant green by 1937.

What is the history of the Masters?

The Masters Tournament was founded by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts. Its first event took place in 1934 after a decision made at a meeting in New York. The tournament has since grown into one of golf’s most prestigious events.

How much is a membership at Augusta National?

The initiation fee for an Augusta National membership is estimated to range from $40,000 to $200,000, with annual dues around $7,000 to $10,000. However, the official figures are not publicly disclosed.

What was the Masters called before it became the Masters?

Before being known as the Masters, the tournament was called the “Augusta National Invitational” for its first five years (1934-1938). Since 1940, it has been scheduled for the first full week of April each year.

Is Tiger Woods a member at Augusta National?

The membership details at Augusta National Golf Club are highly confidential. While some members are publicly known, such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, specific criteria or listings including Tiger Woods’ status are not disclosed.


The Masters Tournament stands as a testament to the evolving yet timeless nature of golf. From its inception by visionaries Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts to the unforgettable achievements of legends like Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods the tournament has continually set the gold standard in the sport.

The Augusta National Golf Club remains a revered venue, adapting its course to meet modern demands while preserving its storied traditions.

As the tournament moves forward it continues to honor its rich history while challenging new generations of golfers. Each year, the Masters captivates fans with moments of intense competition and displays of unparalleled skill.

The iconic Green Jacket, awarded to the champion, symbolizes not just victory but entrance into an exclusive club of golf elites.

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Colin McCarthy

Golf is about mastering your misses and learning from them. I seek answers on the how and why of the golf swing, gaining experience even when answers elude me. With over 11,000 hours of teaching and a hunger for learning, I welcome any questions. My goal is to introduce golf to as many as possible, simplifying the game for all to enjoy. Passionate, eager, and ambitious, I'm here to teach, listen, and learn. LinkedIn

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