Monday, October 25, 2010

U.S. Masters Tournament - History

History at a Glance
Looking to provide a service to golf by hosting a tournament, Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts decided to hold an annual event beginning in 1934. The final decision was made at a meeting in New York at the office of member W. Alton Jones. Roberts proposed the event be called the Masters Tournament, but Bobby Jones objected thinking it too presumptuous. The name Augusta National Invitation Tournament was adopted and the title was used for five years until 1939 when Jones relented and the name was officially changed. An early decision was whether Jones would play or serve as an official. Jones preferred not to compete but was persuaded by the Club's members to join the field. In the 12 Tournaments that Jones played, his best finish was 13th in 1934.

Many decisions made in the early days of the Tournament remain today. Among these are the four-day stroke playing of 18 holes each day instead of the then customary 36 holes on the third day, eliminating qualifying rounds, and denying permission for anyone except the player and caddie to be in the playing area. A complimentary pairing sheet and a spectator booklet were provided, and commercialization in any form of the Tournament was limited.

The first Tournament was held March 22, 1934, and beginning in 1940, the Masters was scheduled each year during the first full week in April. That first Tournament was won by Horton Smith, and in the Fall of 1934 the nines were reversed. In 1935 Gene Sarazen hit "the shot heard 'round the world" scoring a double eagle on the par 5 15th hole, tying Craig Wood and forcing a playoff. Sarazen won the 36-hole playoff the following day by five strokes. In 1942 Byron Nelson defeated Ben Hogan 69-70 in an 18-hole playoff and the Tournament was not played the following three years, 1943, 1944 and 1945, during the war. To assist the war effort, cattle and turkeys were raised on the Augusta National grounds.

The 1950's included two victories by Ben Hogan, and the first of four for Arnold Palmer. Palmer's 1958 win began the tradition of Amen Corner. In 1960 the Par 3 Contest was begun, and in 1965-1966 Jack Nicklaus became the first Masters champion to defend his title successfully. During the decade of the 1970's the two founders of the Masters Tournament passed away. Both Jones and Roberts left indelible impressions on the Masters and on the world of golf. The following decade Spaniard Seve Ballesteros won twice and Tom Watson captured his second title. In 1986 at age 46, Nicklaus donned his sixth Green Jacket. And in 1997, Tiger Woods broke the Tournament four-day scoring record that had stood for 32 years. At the 2001 Masters, Woods won his fourth consecutive professional major, and in 2002 became only the third player to win consecutive Masters titles. In 2005 he became the third person to win at least four Tournaments.

History of the Club
Upon his retirement from championship golf in 1930, Bobby Jones had hoped to realize his dream of building a golf course. Following a brief conversation with Clifford Roberts, with whom Jones had met several times during the mid-1920s, it was decided the club would be built near Augusta, Georgia, provided a suitable piece of ground was available. According to Jones' plans, the course would utilize the natural advantages of the property and use mounds rather than too many bunkers. It was hoped the property would have a natural creek to use as a water hazard. Jones wanted this concept of golf course architecture to make a contribution to the game as well as give expression to his ideas about golf course design. This club would be open during the winter season only.

A mutual friend of Jones and Roberts, Thomas Barrett, Jr., was consulted and recommended a 365-acre property called Fruitland Nurseries. Once an indigo plantation, it was purchased in 1857 by Belgian Baron Louis Mathieu Edouard Berckmans who was a horticulturist by hobby. Berckmans' son, Prosper Julius Alphonse, was an agronomist and horticulturist by profession and the two formed a partnership in 1858. Operating under the name Fruitland Nurseries, the company imported many trees and plants from various countries. The Baron died in 1883. Prosper's death followed in 1910 and the nursery ceased operations by the time its charter expired in 1918. A great variety of flowering plants and trees, including a long row of magnolias which were planted before the Civil War and a plant Prosper popularized called the azalea, remained on the property.

Upon seeing the property from what is now the practice putting green, Jones said, "Perfect! And to think this ground has been lying here all these years waiting for someone to come along and lay a golf course on it."

An option was taken on the property for $70,000. It was decided to establish a national membership for the club, and Jones proposed Augusta National would be an appropriate name. Jones also decided in the planning stage that he wanted Dr. Alister Mackenzie of Scotland to serve as the course architect since the pair held similar views. Before coming to Augusta, Mackenzie had designed two courses in California, Pasatiempo and Cypress Point. Mackenzie died in January 1934, two months before the first Tournament.

Construction on the new course began in the first half of 1931 and the course opened in December 1932 with a limited amount of member play. Formal opening took place in January 1933.

Bobby Jones Clifford Roberts
Robert (Bobby) Tyre Jones, Jr., was born on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 1902, in Atlanta, Georgia. The amateur golfer Bobby Jones dominated the game of golf from the early 1920's through 1930. From 1923 through 1930, Jones won 13 of 21 major championships he entered. His record includes five U. S. Amateur
Clifford Roberts was born on a farm in Morning Sun, Iowa, in 1894. He was the co-founder with Bobby Jones of Augusta National Golf Club. Roberts served as Chairman of Augusta National from 1931 through 1976 and was named Chairman in Memoriam after his death in 1977. He was Chairman of the Masters Tournament

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.