The History of the Masters Golf Tournament

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"The History of the Masters Golf Tournament"
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While the Masters may not have quite the history of the British Open, in respect of length at least, the tournament still holds a special place in golfers' hearts. Since it began in 1934 it has become renowned for its quality, and has established itself as one of the world's best golf tournaments, if not the best.

The origins of the competition can be traced back to 1934 when Bobby Jones and Clifford Richards wished to hold an annual golf tournament as a service to golf. Their golf course, the Augusta National, had been opened in 1933 and the Augusta National Invitation tournament began soon after.

The golfer Horton Smith won the first tournament. He also became the first player to repeat the feat when he won in 1936.

In 1935 the course had 9 holes reversed permanently. And in the same year, Gene Sarazan won that tournament. His famous shot on hole 15 allowed for a double eagle to give him a playoff chance.

In 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and America joined the war.  As such, from 1943-45 the tournament was not played due to conflict. Cattle and turkeys were raised on the Augusta ground to assist the war effort.

After the war, in 1949 the distinctive green jacket began to be awarded to winners of the Masters. Since then, it has been club tradition for this to be passed on by the winners.

Also in the post-war era, CBS began its coverage of the Masters in 1956. This coverage remains to the current day, and has helped the Masters emerge as one of the best golf championships.

The 1960-1980s really saw the big take off for the tournament when legends of the game began to grace the famous Augusta course. Jack Nicklaus won his first green jacket in 1963. He would go on to win an record six tournaments. The first non-American to win the competition was Gary Player in 1961. Along with Arnold Palmer, these players would go on to win the tournament eight times during the period.

The 1980s-2000 saw the dominance of American golfers ended by non-American players like Ballestaros and Faldo with five titles between them in the period. In total 11 victories were achieved by non-Americans.

1997 saw Tiger Woods become the youngest ever golfer to win the tournament at the age of 21. He also broke a number of course records in the process. Only Nicklaus and Palmer have won as many or more Master's tournaments than his tally of four.

In more recent times, the Augusta course has been extended in length. First 7270 and then to 7445 yards in 2006. Although not entirely widely welcomed, these changes will likely stay.

Today, the Masters is perhaps the strongest golf championship in the world. With the narrowest of fields, it allows for only the best to compete in it. While it remains a largely American stronghold, the times have changed and now non-American golfers win the Masters too. The Masters will remain at the forefront of golf, with a wide TV audience and great interest in the competition.

More about this author: Matthew Adams

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