The Masters: A Hole-by-Hole History of America's Golf Classic, Third Edition

The Masters: A Hole-by-Hole History of America's Golf Classic, Third Edition

by David Sowell


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Revered as the most prestigious tournament in golf, the Masters commands international attention, even among nongolfers. The first and second editions of The Masters: A Hole-by-Hole History of America’s Golf Classic took the unique approach of tackling Augusta National hole by hole. Each hole had its own chapter, with colorful stories on the greatest shots, biggest disasters, and most amazing events that took place on each.

David Sowell returns to Augusta now with the third edition of The Masters, adding more history and updating each hole with additional stories of greatness and tales of woe for a new generation of golfers led by Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, and Patrick Reed, as well as from an older guard represented by Bubba Watson, Adam Scott, and Sergio García.

The legends of the Masters are in full force in this lively look at America’s golf classic. From Bobby Jones and Gene Sarazen to Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson to Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth, all the greatest Masters moments of the greatest—and not so great—golfers are here in one book. This third edition provides a rich historical view of the course where success breeds legends and where failure can haunt even the most brilliant golfer’s career.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496212832
Publisher: UNP - Nebraska
Publication date: 03/01/2019
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 48,883
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

David Sowell has written about golf and golf history for numerous golf publications, including the United States Golf Association’s Golf Journal and Links Magazine.

Read an Excerpt


Par Four — 445 Yards | Tea Olive

For fifty-one weeks of the year, the first tee at Augusta National is a serene and idyllic setting, but Thursday of Masters week, and for the following three days, it becomes the center of the golf universe. Whether you are playing in your first Masters or your twenty-first, the first-tee jitters here are like the tournament itself, as big as they get.

When the players arrived for the 2006 Masters, they had to make an adjustment for the fact that the center of the golf universe had shifted slightly. The first tee had been moved back 10 yards, increasing the hole's distance from 435 to 445 yards. The change at the first hole was part of a package of changes made at Augusta National that also involved the lengthening and toughening of five other holes: 4, 7, 11, 15, and 17.

This was the second time in four years there had been a host of changes at Augusta National. Before the 2002 Masters three of the holes that were updated for the 2006 Masters — 1, 7, and 11 — along with 8, 9, 10, 13, 14, and 18 had their tees pushed back in addition to other modifications.

These changes were dictated by the increased length achieved by today's golfers, assisted greatly by their high-tech clubs and improved long-distance golf balls. As in 2002 the 2006 changes stirred up quite a bit of discussion and debate in the media, among the players, and among golf fans. Many believed this wonderful national treasure was being defiled. Others thought the changes were long overdue.

As each hole's history will chronicle, the fact is the Augusta National course has always been a work in progress, from the day it opened in 1933. Bobby Jones designed and oversaw a number of changes before his death in 1971. Masters champions Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, and Jack Nicklaus are just a few of the professionals who have also participated in making changes to the course. In addition to the players, noted golf course architects Perry Maxwell, George Fazio, Robert Trent Jones, and Tom Fazio (who oversaw the 2002 and 2006 changes) have assisted in designing and implementing improvements to Jones and MacKenzie's original masterpiece.

There was another change at the Masters in 2002 that was universally hailed, and it was one for which millions of golf fans had been clamoring for years — televising the play on the front nine during the final two rounds. Masters officials had long feared that televising the front nine would dilute the quality of the telecast, but the demands from the Masters faithful were too great to be ignored. The change called for almost all of the leaders' play to be covered on Saturday. On Sunday coverage would start an hour earlier and show the leaders teeing off at the first hole.

The first hole is a very demanding dogleg-right uphill par four, and it has experienced its share of changes over the years. For starters, it was originally the tenth hole when the club opened in 1933. The original layout posed a problem in winter, because the first three holes were set on the lowest part of the course. In colder months these holes were often covered by frost during the early-morning hours, which delayed play. To alleviate this problem, the nines were reversed after the first Masters in 1934. Right off the bat, the first shot at the first hole presents the player with the risk-versus-reward scenario Jones loved to have on a hole. On this hole the reward has always been for a drive that clears the large bunker on the right side of the fairway at the bend of the dogleg. If the shot is successful, the player has an ideal approach to the green with a short iron. If the shot comes up short, the player has what can be a very challenging second shot from the sand.

The hole's distance has been lengthened over the years from its original four hundred yards to keep the fairway bunker in play. In 1982 Masters officials decided to lengthen the hole by ten yards and not tell the players about the increased length. The players picked up on the covert change in the practice round, when their drives began filling up the fairway bunker. The added distance certainly affected the scoring on the hole that year. The number of birdies dropped by almost 40 percent, and bogeys increased by more than 30 percent.

There has always been one element that can make this shot a very risky proposition or a breeze, and that is the wind conditions. If the wind is at the player's back, he can really let one ride. But if it is in his face, he generally opts to take the safe route and play to the left center of the fairway to avoid the bunker.

It used to be that if a player pulled his tee shot too far to the left, he was not overly concerned. Even if the ball rolled into the adjacent fairway of the ninth hole, he would still have a clear approach to the green. However, this avenue to the green has been taken away with the addition of more pine trees up that side of the fairway.

The green is protected by a bunker on the left side, which was a 1951 addition. The putting surface is very undulating. It has a ridge on the back section that can make things very interesting if a player is long with his approach and has a lengthy putt or chip back down to the hole. This green has an abundance of subtle breaks that have always produced a very high number of missed putts from the four- and five-foot range. The pin is usually tucked behind the bunker once in an early round and in the final round. The locations of the pin in the other two rounds are typically right center and front right. In the 2001 Masters the first had ranked as the second most difficult hole on the course. Its Tiger Woods ranking was also pretty high. Before the 2002 Masters, Woods had made only one birdie in twenty-six attempts at the hole. The changes made to the first prior to the 2002 Masters were increasing the length from a listed 410 to 435 yards and extending the fairway bunker an additional 25 yards toward the green. These changes added an additional 50 yards to the carry a drive would need to clear the fairway bunker.

Many players have encountered problems before they have even had a chance to place a tee in the ground at the first hole. In one of the Masters in the late 1960s, Bert Yancey got to the course with plenty of time to warm up and get ready for his opening round, but his caddie was nowhere to be found. Yancey had made what was, in hindsight, a big mistake. He had allowed the young man who had been assigned to him by the Augusta National caddie master to borrow his car the previous evening. And to make matters worse, his clubs were in the trunk. Yancey was practically hysterical. The assistant caddie master was hurriedly dispatched to locate the missing young man. He played a hunch and soon found the caddie and the vehicle at a brothel just a few miles from the club. He was able to get the clubs to Yancey in time for him to make his appointment at the first tee with a new caddie.

In 1937 Harry Cooper, whose nickname was Hard Luck, was tied with the eventual winner, Byron Nelson, after the third round. The caddie who had worked so effectively with Cooper for fifty-four holes did not show up for the final round. Forced to use a replacement, Hard Luck shot his worst round of the tournament, a 74, to finish in third place, four strokes off the pace.

Herman Keiser, the surprise leader after the first two rounds in 1946 and the eventual winner, was enjoying a relaxing lunch in the clubhouse an hour before what he thought was his scheduled tee time, until Henry Picard charged into the dining area. Picard, the 1938 Masters champion, frantically told Keiser that he had just been called to the first tee. Keiser raced out to the first tee without the benefit of any practice. Keiser parred the hole and went on to post his third straight subpar round.

Jimmy Demaret held the lead after the first three rounds in 1947, and he opted not to go to the practice range before the final round — not because he didn't want to or need to; he just wasn't in any condition to swing a club. Demaret had been out partying the night before, and he was still feeling the effects of overconsumption of alcohol. Instead of practicing, he found a quiet, shady spot off the tenth fairway to use as his personal detoxification area until he was called to the tee. Demaret's tee shot at the first that day was far from spectacular. He slapped it out into some brush on the right side of the fairway. On his second shot he managed to slice his ball around a group of pines onto the front of the green and then two-putted for his par. After a bogey at the second, Demaret settled down and finished the round at a one-under-par 71 and won the tournament by two strokes.

Before Sam Snead reached the first tee in his first Masters in 1937, he was advised he was being assessed a penalty. It wasn't a stroke penalty but a financial one. His employer, the Greenbrier Resort at White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, had advised him that he would be docked ten dollars (a week's pay) for being away from his duties as the resort's golf professional to play in the Masters. Snead's first appearance at Augusta did not get off to a good start, as he made bogey on his first hole. Snead finished the day at four over par, 76. He played the second round at even par and the third round at one under. Snead stood the chance of easily recouping his financial penalty, but he ballooned to a seven-over-par 79 in the last round and finished five strokes out of the money, which in that year's tournament was paid to only the top ten finishers.

In spite of the fact that this was his twenty-second Masters, Snead was a little too eager when it came time for him to tee off in the first round in 1961. He did not allow enough time for the pairing that had teed off ahead of him to clear the landing area. Snead's tee shot almost struck one of them, and it was not just anyone. It was an individual who at that time probably had the most nicknames of any player in the field. Those that can be printed are "Tantrum Tommy," "Terrible Tommy," and "Tempestuous Tommy." Snead had nearly struck the living legend of short fuses, Tommy Bolt. Bolt let loose with a verbal tirade back at Snead that almost peeled the bark off some of the pines lining the fairway. Bolt's verbal wrath must have still been ringing in Snead's ears when he got to the green, because he missed a two-footer for his par.

Arnold Palmer received a rousing welcoming ovation from the gallery when he walked on the first tee for the opening round in 1968. A few moments later, Masters officials told him that the ball he was playing was not welcome and he would have to use another brand. This was particularly stinging to Palmer because the brand of the ball he was playing was the "Arnold Palmer." Prior to the tournament, the United States Golf Association had ruled that the ball was illegal because it did not meet its specifications. After that ruling, Palmer's company had made the changes required for compliance and had been advised by the USGA the balls were now legal. When Palmer showed up at the first tee, however, his ball was one of nineteen on a list of banned balls Masters officials had prepared. Palmer played his round with balls from two competing brands, Titleist and Maxfli, and shot an even-par 72. By the start of the second day, the Masters officials were made aware that Palmer's ball was, in fact, now legal, and he used it in the second round. He may have wished he had played with the other two brands again because he shot a 79 and missed the cut for the first time in his Masters career.

Two competitors who had to tee off at the first hole under very difficult personal situations were Byron Nelson and Jack Nicklaus. And both went on to win the tournament. In Nelson's case he had arrived at the first tee for his playoff with Ben Hogan in 1942 after a night of virtually no sleep.

Nelson had a long history of chronic stomach trouble. During the night before, he had experienced one of his worst bouts ever with the problem, describing his stomach as "churning like a washing machine." When Hogan saw how ill Nelson looked that morning, he offered to delay the playoff until the afternoon, but Nelson insisted they tee off that morning as originally scheduled. Nelson's tee shot at the first was probably the worst of his career. It could almost be defined as a shank. The ball shot out to the extreme right, flew over a concession stand, ricocheted off a pine tree, and came to rest under a little evergreen tree. His ball's position prevented him from addressing his ball as a right-handed player. He had to become a switch hitter and execute his next stroke with a left-handed stance. He used a putter and punched it back into play. His next shot flew over the green, and he took three more strokes to get down and started the day with a double-bogey six. Nelson would take several holes to recover from his stomach problem and then make a remarkable comeback to defeat Hogan.

Nelson's physical problem would have to be considered mild in comparison to the emotional issues Jack Nicklaus was dealing with when he stepped onto the first tee for the first round in 1966. The day before, four of Nicklaus's Columbus, Ohio, friends were killed when their private plane crashed in Tennessee while en route to Augusta.

After a woefully hooked tee shot that ended up in the ninth fairway and an approach shot that left him almost forty feet from the pin, Nicklaus somehow managed to find a way to deal with the tragic events of the previous twenty-four hours. He drained the putt for an opening birdie. It would take him an extra day, but Nicklaus would go on to claim the third of his six Masters titles in an eighteen-hole, three-way playoff with Gay Brewer and Tommy Jacobs.

Unlike golf's other three major championships, the Masters is strictly an invitation tournament sponsored by a private organization, the Augusta National Club. The club sets the qualifications for receiving an invitation. Doug Sanders probably put it best from a player's perspective about being invited to Augusta when he said, "If you don't get an invitation to the Masters, it is like being out of the world for a week."

Like the course itself, the criteria for qualifying for an invitation have gone through many changes over the years. Being a winner or a top finisher in a major championship has always been a means of qualifying. For a number of years, winning a Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) Tour event has automatically qualified a player. Also, at one time, the prior Masters champions selected one player by ballot from a list of players who were not otherwise qualified.

The best way for a player to ensure he is in the field each year is to win the Masters, because prior champions are granted a lifetime invitation. Besides being a former Masters champion or qualifying through a major championship, the other two primary means of qualifying are by being in the top fifty in the World Golf Rankings or being in the top forty money winners on the PGA Tour from the previous year. Also, the top sixteen finishers from the previous year's Masters are invited back the next year. The qualifications used by the Invitation Committee for the 2018 Masters are listed in appendix 2.

To give the tournament an international flavor, the Invitation Committee has often issued special invitations to foreign players. In 1957 Cliff Roberts received a letter from a man in Johannesburg, South Africa, seeking an invitation for his twenty-two-year-old son. The man stated that his son was a great admirer of Bobby Jones and always had an ambition to play in the Masters. He said his son did not have the money for the trip, but if he were extended an invitation, he would pass the hat around among friends to get the necessary funds. The letter moved Roberts, although the man's son did not have an especially strong record. Roberts took up the matter with the committee, and it voted to extend the young man an invitation. Roberts then wired the father and advised him to go ahead and pass the hat because an invitation was on the way. Gary Player was the young man they were passing the hat for in Johannesburg, and in that 1957 Masters, he would finish in a very respectable twenty-fifth place. In 1961 Player would win his first of three green jackets. The first hole was crucial for Player in that one-stroke victory, as he made birdies here in three out of the four rounds.


Excerpted from "The Masters"
by .
Copyright © 2019 David Sowell.
Excerpted by permission of UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA PRESS.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Hole No. 1
Hole No. 2
Hole No. 3
Hole No. 4
Hole No. 5
Hole No. 6
Hole No. 7
Hole No. 8
Hole No. 9
Hole No. 10
Hole No. 11
Hole No. 12
Hole No. 13
Hole No. 14
Hole No. 15
Hole No. 16
Hole No. 17
Hole No. 18
Appendix 1: Master Champions
Appendix 2: 2018 Qualifications for Invitation

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