10 things you need to know about the US Masters

Love golf? The US Masters is a highlight in the golfing calendar.

How many of these fun facts do you know about golf? Test yourself now!

If you are one of the many devoted golf fans who long to hear that corny theme music and gushing commentary from CBS presenter Jim Nantz, then you’ll love the US Masters.

For non-golf addicts the arrival of the 2016 US Masters simply means winter has drawn another week closer. But for Australian golf lovers early April is a beacon of light and happiness.

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What do you love most about golf season? (Photo: Masters Tournament/Twitter)

The constant playing of ‘Augusta’ (the not-so creatively named tournament theme song). The countless shots of the azaleas that adorn the grounds of Augusta National. The endless images of Magnolia Lane. It might all be cheesier than a Peter Russell Clarke Coon commercial, but it’s all part of the experience.

Sure, family birthdays are important, and who doesn’t love Christmas and Easter? But nothing compares to these four glorious mornings every year. When the alarm clock goes off at 4am and you leap out of bed with the excitement of, um, a kid at Christmas.

There are so many reasons for Aussie golf fans’ love affair with both Augusta National and the Masters. Like most unions, Australia’s relationship with the Masters has featured moments of joy, sadness and utter heartbreak.

There was Larry Mize’s miraculous chip-in from well off the 11th green in 1987 to beat Greg Norman at the second playoff hole and rob a nation of its first Masters title. But the worst was yet to come as the Great White Shark reserved his most toothless performance for the final round of the 1996 Masters.


Larry Mize won the Masters title after a sudden-death playoff with Greg Norman

Norman held a six-shot lead after three rounds but his six-over 78 saw him lose to England’s Nick Faldo by five. That collapse was yet another heartbreak for Aussie golf fans longing to see one of their own don the Green Jacket.

Seventeen more years would pass before Adam Scott, who had his own near misses at Augusta, produced an eight-metre putt and a mighty ‘C’mon Aussie’ celebration on the 72nd hole to force a playoff. He sunk another bomb in the second playoff hole to beat Angel Cabrera and spark wild celebrations in lounge rooms all over Australia.

Scott is one of five Australians teeing up at Augusta National, alongside world number one and pre-tournament favourite Jason Day. Steven Bowditch, Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith round out the Aussie contingent.


Watch Adam Scott's highlight shots in the 2016 Cadillac Championship

How many of these 10 fun facts about the US Masters do you know?

1. For the first four years of its history, from 1934-1938, The Masters was called the Augusta National Invitation Tournament. It became known as The Masters from 1939 at the suggestion of co-designer and future Augusta National Chairman Clifford Roberts.

2. Augusta National Golf Course opened one year earlier in 1933 and was the brainchild of legendary American golfer Bobby Jones. Jones and his co-designer Roberts enlisted architect Alister MacKenzie to build the course.

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The iconic Augusta Clubhouse still shines bright (Photo: Masters Tournament/Twitter)

3. The back-nine of Augusta National as it is known today was played as the front nine for the inaugural tournament in 1934, won by Horton Smith. It was swiftly changed back to the original design and the format that we now know and love in 1935.

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1934 Masters champion, Horton Smith (Photo: Masters Tournament/Twitter)

4. The tournament wasn’t played from 1943-45 due to World War II. Augusta National was transformed into farm land over that period as part of the war effort.

5. Gene Sarazen won the first-ever playoff in the 1935 edition of the tournament. He beat Craig Wood in a 36-hole showdown on Monday. It was the first of 14 playoffs in Masters history. From 1942-‘76 the playoff was reduced to an 18-hole showdown, of which there were five.

The Masters went to a sudden-death playoff in 1977, with Fuzzy Zoeller becoming the first winner under the new playoff format by defeating Tom Watson and Ed Sneed in 1979. There have been eight sudden-death playoffs in total, with Australia’s Adam Scott winning the most recent in 2013.


Gene Sarazen's albatross on the 15th hole in the final round of the 1935 Masters is an iconic moment in sport

6. It has become one of the most famous garments in sport but the presentation of the coveted Green Jacket didn’t start until 1949. The winners of the first 12 Masters tournaments were presented Green Jackets retrospectively.        

7. When an uneven number of players make the 36-hole cut Augusta National member, Jeff Knox, plays with the odd-man out as a marker. While Knox, 53, is actually there to make up the numbers, he does a lot more than that. His score doesn’t count but Mr Knox has played 15 rounds in eight Masters appearances and has a very impressive collection of scalps. He bettered Rory McIlroy’s final-round 71 by a shot in 2014.

Legend has it he also upstaged Spaniard Sergio Garcia in 2006, who allegedly refused to shake hands with the Augusta native. Golf folklore suggests Knox, who holds the course record of 61 off the members’ tees, has beaten as many as six of his Masters ‘guests’ in tournament play.

8. Augusta National is the most exclusive golf course in the world to play and just getting tickets to watch the tournament is a big ask. Patrons must be a member of a patrons list, which is currently closed to new members. Even practice round tickets are hard to come by.

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Augusta National is the most exclusive golf course in the world to play (Photo: Danny E Hooks/Shutterstock)

You’ll need to get your name on the list 12 months in advance and then get drawn out of the hat to gain access to the course on Tuesday or Wednesday of tournament week. If you have the means, your best bet is to try now or contact one of the many tour groups offering Masters packages or for travel packages.

9. If you’ve ever watched The Masters coverage, there’s every chance you’ve heard the theme song. It’s called ‘Augusta’ and was written by Dave Loggins, a third cousin of Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Kenny, in 1981. The host broadcaster will play a piano version (over and over and over again), but did you know the song actually has lyrics as well?

Here they are:

Well it’s springtime in the valley on Magnolia Lane
It’s the Augusta National and the master of the game
Who’ll wear that green coat on Sunday afternoon?
Who’ll walk the 18th fairway singing this tune?
Augusta, your dogwoods and pines
They play on my mind like a song
Augusta, it’s you that I love
And it’s you that I’ll miss when I’m gone.

It’s Watson, Byron Nelson, Demaret, Player and Snead.
It’s Amen Corner and it’s Hogan’s perfect swing
It’s Sarazen’s double eagle at the 15th in ‘35
And the spirit of Clifford Roberts that keeps it alive
Augusta, it’s you that I love
And it’s you that I miss when I’m gone
It’s the legions of Arnie’s Army and the Golden Bear’s throngs
And the wooden-shafted legend of Bobby Jones.


Dave Loggins' live performance of 'Augusta'

10. The millions of television viewers will also be bombarded by the phrase, ‘A tradition unlike any other’. But did you know Augusta National has filed to have presenter Jim Nantz’ trademark saying officially trademarked?

Watch (or tape) round 4 on TV on Monday, April 11 from 3.45am (AEST) on tv on 7Mate, Plus7 and Fox Sports 5.

(Featured image: americanheritage1.com)

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