Spring is for lovers — lovers of golf, that is. The time has come to celebrate one of the grandest events in the history of the sport. The time for the Masters Tournament is once again upon us. This annual gathering of the greatest professional and amateur golfers brings thousands of spectators to Augusta, Georgia each year for this contest. It is also the first major PGA tournament of the year.The Masters Tournament began back in 1934 and is hosted on the grounds of the Augusta National Golf Club. Augusta National opened in 1933 and began hosting an annual tournament the following year. It was given its current name in 1939. Beginning in 1949 the tournament began to formally bestow a green jacket upon its winner. This has become an icon in the world of golf. The winner is given the jacket to wear for a year following their win, and then it is returned to Augusta as a trophy only to be worn at the club. In addition to the coveted green jacket, the winner also receives prize money. In 2016 Danny Willett took home 1.8 million dollars for his win, and nearly nine hundred thousand dollars went to each of the two tied in second place, Jordan Spieth, and Lee Westwood. Serious business.
The 2017 Masters will run from April 3rd to the 9th. As is the tradition the first three days consist of practice rounds with a par 3 tournament held on the final practice day. The tournament itself runs for four days. After the first 36 holes, the field shrinks to the top fifty scores and those within ten strokes of the leader. The following two days determine the winner over the course of another 36 holes.
There are many great players that have come to the Masters over time, but there have been only a handful of greats that returned to claim the title more than once. The most decorated competitor is Jack Nicklaus who holds the record of six wins at Augusta. Next are Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods who each hold an impressive four victories. Woods also shares the tournament’s best round score of 18 below par, shot in 1997, along with Jordan Spieth who earned his score in 2015.
For the spectator who wishes to see the Masters in person, attending can be a bit tricky. There are a limited number of tickets, or badges, and these are sold to the public on a lottery basis. Fans can apply for tickets and hope to be one of the lucky few to get the low introductory price of 65 dollars a day for practice rounds and 100 dollars each for tournament days. After the lottery, tickets are generally resold for drastically higher prices. In 2016 the average one day pass went for about one thousand dollars, and practice rounds sold for five hundred or more per day. It isn’t cheap, but who can put a price on seeing these greats take to the golf course?
For the fan that can put a price on this, there is always a great seat right at home. ESPN and CBS will be sharing broadcast coverage of the tournament, and each day will be shown live. The final day of practice rounds also features the par 3 contest and will air live on ESPN. Whether you make the trip to sunny Augusta or stay warm inside avoiding the showers of April, the Masters will be there waiting as it does each year, waiting to thrill and surprise, to captivate and awe. It is truly a grand time of year.
By Sam Stinogel