15 Fascinating Facts About The Masters Tournament
The Masters Tournament, which is held each year during the first full week of April at Georgia's famed Augusta National Golf Club, is one of just four globally recognized major championships in professional golf. (The others being the PGA Championship, the U.S. Open, and The Open Championship).
Typically referred to simply as "The Masters," this prestigious competition has some interesting history, protocols, and traditions that go far beyond golf to include everything from green sports jackets to pimento cheese sandwiches. Read on to learn more.
1. The Green Jacket tradition started in 1937.
The origins of The Green Jacket—a single-breasted, brass-buttoned, green sports jacket that is now bestowed upon each year's winner—date back to 1937. The idea behind the iconic piece of clothing, according to The Augusta Chronicle, originated as a way for non-members who might have a question or need guidance to easily identify official club members who could offer them assistance. For more than a decade, the only people who were allowed to wear the now-famous Green Jacket were Augusta National Golf Club members.
2. The first Masters Green Jacket was handed out in 1949.
While members of the Augusta National Golf Club began proudly wearing their jackets in the mid-1930s, it wasn't until a dozen years later that the first Masters champion took one home as part of the tournament's prize. In 1949, golfer Sam Snead became the first Masters champion to be gifted with a Green Jacket. So that no previous winners felt left out, the PGA reports that they were then sent out to all earlier Masters champions, too.
3. The jacket wasn't always very practical, or comfortable.
According to the PGA, the original Green Jackets were a little uncomfortable. The first jackets, which were crafted by Brooks Uniform Co. in New York, were made of a heavy wool material that didn't quite lend itself to the links. Today, the jackets are made of a tropical-weight wool that's sourced locally, from the Forstmann Company in Dublin, Georgia, just about 100 miles away.
4. The Green Jacket comes with some rules.
For as iconic an item of clothing as it is, you won't often see a Masters Green Jacket out in the wild. That's because, as The Augusta Chronicle writes, "jackets are kept on club grounds, and taking them off the premises is forbidden." The only exception is for the Masters winner, who is allowed to take their jacket home for one year, then must be returned to the Club.
If you want to see the jacket up close, there's one on display at the Augusta Museum of History.
5. Cell phones are prohibited.
Don’t think you can take a quick selfie or shots of the action at the Masters—unless you want to risk getting kicked out of the event. The Club's rules strictly prohibit the use of cell phones, beepers, or any other electronic devices on the grounds at all times.
If you need to make a call, you’ll have to be old-school about it. The club sets up stands of stationary phones to use.
6. Cameras are also a no-no.
Cameras have a little bit of leeway: They're allowed during practice rounds, which fall on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of the week of the Masters. But cameras are forbidden on Tournament days, which run Thursday through Sunday.
7. The Augusta National Golf Club has some ties to Dwight Eisenhower.
The Augusta National Golf Club has had many significant members, including 34th POTUS Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower was a friend of Masters chairman Clifford Roberts, who co-founded the Masters Tournament with famed golfer Bobby Jones.
As legend has it, Eisenhower had a major problem with a certain pine tree at Augusta, which he claimed impacted his game and asked to have removed. The conifer, which came to be known as the “Eisenhower Tree,” was located on the 17th hole, stood 65 feet high, and was believed to be more than 100 years old. While it's no longer there, it's not because of Ike's complaints: The tree sustained severe damage in February 2014, when a rare ice storm descended on Augusta, and had to be removed.
There is, however, a pond on the course named after Eisenhower.
8. Pimento cheese sandwiches are a Masters tradition.
The food and drink menu at the Masters has options that are not only beloved, but also surprisingly budget-friendly. According to a GolfWeek article, the tournament introduced a chicken salad sandwich on brioche bread in 2021 that was priced at just $3. The entry joined other items such as chocolate chip cookies, an egg salad sandwich, and their famous pimento cheese sandwich. This cheesy spread on bread is typically credited to the late Nick Rangos, a caterer who put them together for the Masters for over four decades.
9. Almost everything is wrapped in green for a very good reason.
Between the Green Jackets and the golf course itself, there's a lot of green to be seen at the Masters. This color trend carries over into the food options, with beverages typically being served in green cups and sandwiches and snacks wrapped in green paper. The reason? So that any piece of trash a patron might drop won't show up on TV.
10. Players are encouraged to skip their golf balls during practice rounds.
During practice rounds at the Masters, players are encouraged to try to skip their golf balls across a lake at the front of the 16th tee and green. In 2018, Mark Calcavecchia tweeted that he and Ken Green are the ones who started this tradition back in 1987—and got in trouble for it. But The Augusta Chronicle was unable to confirm exactly which year the tradition began.
11. The event has its own theme song.
Yep, the Masters has a theme song. The piano-and-guitar-based tune is called “Augusta” and was created by American singer-songwriter Dave Loggins. He is a cousin of fellow songwriter, Kenny Loggins. Kenny, coincidentally, wrote "I'm Alright"—the theme song for legendary golf comedy Caddyshack (1980).
Dave visited the Augusta National Golf Club in the early '80s and is said to have been inspired to compose “Augusta” while being at the course’s 14th hole. The song first aired during the 1982 Masters, and it even has lyrics. In 2001, Loggins changed a line in honor of Tiger Woods.
12. Each tournament begins with a ceremonial opening drive.
Beginning in 1963, each Masters begins with a guest from its past when a veteran golfer hits a ceremonial opening drive to signify the start of another tournament. The tradition was briefly halted in 1977, but resumed in 1981. It's considered a great honor to be asked to hit the opening shot, and these golfers have become known as the "honorary starters" of the Masters.
Past “honorary starters” have included Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Lee Elder, who was the first Black golfer to compete in the Masters.
13. Plants play an important part in the event.
Plants and flowers have always been an important part of the Masters. The location of the Augusta National Golf Club was once the location of Fruitland Nurseries, a large-scale horticultural site founded in 1858. The property was sold in 1931 and quickly transformed into the Augusta National Golf Club.
Today, each hole on the golf course at the Masters is named for a plant, tree, flower, or shrub embellishing it. For example, Hole No. 1 is referred to as Tea Olive, while the 18th hole features a holly tree.
Yet the most noteworthy plantings are the azaleas. More than 30 varieties of this flowering shrub can be found around the course. The 13th hole is also referred to as “Azalea.”
14. Women weren't admitted to Augusta until 2012.
For a long time, the Augusta National Golf Club was a men’s club. In 2012, the club welcomed its first two female members: former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and business executive Darla Moore.
Women golfers now also take the course a week before the Masters, in the Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship. The championship began in 2019 and marks its third year in 2022; the 2020 edition was canceled due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Similarly, in 2020, The Masters was held in November due to coronavirus concerns. It was the first time in the history of the tournament that it did not take place in April.
15. Bobby Jones is the only golfer to ever win a Grand Slam.
Legendary golfer Bobby Jones, who helped to design the Augusta National Golf Club and co-founded the Masters, is the only golfer to ever win a true "Grand Slam"—the term for a player who wins all four major golf competitions within one calendar year.