(Photo: Rob Carr)
There are three reasons why The Masters is the best golf tournament of the year: familiarity, history, and hype combine to give every golf fan what they crave in April.
Familiarity – The Masters is the only major championship played on the same golf course every year, Augusta National Golf Club. During the telecast, viewers recall several of the perfectly manicured holes. Amen Corner is the most famous stretch, and the 18th tee shot is iconic.
Rae’s Creek is the watery grave of tee shots on the par-3 12th hole. At least one player will hit two or more shots into the water on 12 because of the tricky wind conditions.
Some of the traditions at Augusta include the Champions Dinner on Tuesday, the Par-3 Contest on Wednesday, and the opening tee shot by golfing legends on Thursday morning to signal the start of the tournament. In addition, players try to skip balls across the pond onto the 16th green during the practice rounds.
The Masters truly is “A tradition unlike any other.”
No one has ever won the par-3 contest and The Masters in the same year, which prompts some players to dump their tee shot in the water on the ninth hole to avoid the curse. Ryan Moore won the contest this year, but word on the street is he is not superstitious.
History – The history of The Masters is tremendous. From the club’s founding in 1933 by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts to the course design by Jones and Alister MacKenzie, there is no shortage of amazing stories. People can endlessly debate the changes to the course, and which Masters Tournament was the most exciting.
In 1935, the tournament’s second year, Gene Sarazen made a double-eagle on 15, and went on to win in a 36-hole playoff.
Jack Nicklaus won six Masters, Arnold Palmer won four, and Gary Player won three. The list of names on the trophy is incredible.
More legendary history includes Jack Nicklaus’ 1986 victory at 46-years-old, Ben Crenshaw winning in 1995 after the death of his beloved instructor Harvey Penick, Tiger Woods winning by 12 strokes in 1997, and Phil Mickelson winning his first major in 2004.
Hype – The hype is real at Augusta. The Masters kicks off the major season each year, so the buildup is two to three months longer than the other majors. In addition, Augusta National is the perfect introduction to what is best about springtime, flowers are in full-bloom and people are playing golf!
Who do you think will win?
This will be a big year for established players who are majorless. Jason Day, Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar, and Dustin Johnson all have a good chance of winning the Green Jacket.
The first-timers are also a significant bunch: Jordan Spieth, Harris English, and Patrick Reed have the game to compete. Many people talk about how much experience is a factor Augusta, but each of these players exhibit a level of maturity that is beyond their years.
It is difficult to bet against Phil. His record at Augusta is second to Tiger, who will not be competing due to back surgery. Rory and Adam Scott are also favorites, but this is golf, so dark horses are the rule, not the exception.
First and second round pairings.