What Makes the US Masters So Special?

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Putting on the coveted Green Jacket is a dream for any golfer as we examine what makes victory at Augusta National one of sport's great achievements.

Tiger Woods walking down the fairway at the 16th at Augusta in the 2019 edition of the Masters.

The Masters has been a cornerstone of the golfing world since its inception back in 1934, but just what is it about the August National Major championship that makes it one of the most loved tournaments around?

Long Masters History Unmatched

You could argue that the Masters, along with the Open Championship, are the two trophies that professional golfers are the most desperate to win, with both events steeped in all kinds of history.

Lifting the Claret Jug at The Open is a fantastic feeling, but so is putting on that famous Green Jacket at the Masters and the thought of being etched into the history books alongside some of the greatest players of all time is spine-tingling.

American Horton Smith was the first man to win the Masters back in 1934 and, except from 1943-45 because of World War II, the tournament has taken place every year no matter what.

Even the coronavirus pandemic has not stopped the Major being played this year, with the usual April slot being changed to November to ensure there is a winner of the 2020 event.

Green Jacket Part of Masters Traditions

Since 1949, a Green Jacket has been awarded to the champion, who must return it to the clubhouse one year after his victory, although it remains his personal property and is stored with other champions’ jackets in a specially designated cloakroom.

That is not the tournament’s only tradition, with The Champions Dinner, inaugurated by Ben Hogan in 1952, held on the Tuesday before each edition. The exclusive get together is open only to past champions and certain board members of the Augusta National Golf Club.

Also, since 1960, a par-3 event has been played on the Wednesday, the day before the first round, but this has brought about a Georgia curse, as no player that has won the par-3 contest has gone on to win the Masters itself.

Augusta One of the Best

Unlike the other three major championships, the Masters is held at Augusta National every year and the course has arguably one of the trickiest three-hole stretches in the world – the dreaded Amen Corner.

Comprising the 11th, 12th and 13th holes, Amen Corner has been a legendary spectacle at the Masters for decades and this stretch has ended the hopes of several players down the years.

The 11th is a 505-yard par-4 with a pond guarding the left-front of the green, making it a treacherous approach, and the amount of players who bailout to the right of the green to take out the water seems to be increasing.

As for the 12th, it is a 155-yard par-3 and one of golf’s most famous holes. Standing on the tee, the players have a narrow green to aim for, with a bunker long and short, while short shots are in danger of bouncing back into Rae’s Creek.

You only have to ask Jordan Spieth how treacherous this hole can be after he dunked two balls into the water in 2016, carding a quadruple-bogey as he finished second overall to Danny Willett.

The 13th is a short par-5, which plays at 510 yards, and this is seen as a real birdie chance. However, be too greedy off the tee or put an errant drive into the trees or hazard area, and this can quickly become a nightmare hole.

Famous Names Dominate Masters

As mentioned earlier, becoming a Masters champion is a dream for every golf enthusiast, with the thought of joining some of the world’s biggest names on the trophy enough to send goosebumps down anyone.

The legendary Jack Nicklaus has won the Masters a record six times, while former world number one and current champion Tiger Woods, who is 25/1 to defend his title this year, has just one less victory to his name.

The scenes when Woods won the Green Jacket in 2019 was absolutely breathtaking and it proved just how much this tournament meant to the American, who let out a wild roar after holing the winning putt.

Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, Nick Faldo, Gary Player, Seve Ballesteros, Ben Hogan, Tom Watson, Jose Maria Olazabal, these are just some of the other high-profile players that have won the coveted Green Jacket.

Overall, there is nothing quite like a Masters week and the tournament will always hold a special place in the hearts of golf fans.

A single-handicapper, James always offers an interesting insight to the world of golf, with extensive knowledge of both the US and European Tours. James also has a wealth of information about the domestic and international football scene.

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