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The Rich and Colorful History of the Masters Golf Tournament

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Scholasticus K May 10, 2019
The Masters Golf Tournament was initially named 'Augusta National Invitation'. The story of Augusta National Invitation dates back to the year 1931.
Golf legend Bobby Jones wanted to construct his own golf course, which he could use after retirement. He started searching for a suitable piece of land with the help of Clifford Roberts, who was an investment specialist and golfer. A large piece of land in Augusta, Georgia, which used to be an indigo plantation, was purchased for the purpose.
The land had to be developed, designed, and modeled to suit a golf course. Hence, in 1931, Jones hired Alister MacKenzie for the job. The most interesting twist in MacKenzie's career was that, he actually qualified as a surgeon, from Scotland.
The construction was completed in 1933. Sadly, MacKenzie did not live to see the first masters tournament that was conducted on the most famous golf course he had designed.
In the initial years, the masters tournament was named. The first tournament of the invitation was held on 22nd March, 1934. The first champion was Horton Smith. In 1939, the name was changed to Masters Golf Tournament.
The maiden tournament was played with holes 10 through 18, which served as the first nine. The later one through nine served as the second nine. This arrangement was reversed, and the present day layout was formed.
The members of the club debated whether Jones should be permitted to participate in the tournament or not. The decision to let Jones compete resulted in establishment of many of his legendary hits.
Since 1940, the tournament has been held in the first week of April, and has been held consistently since then. The only time that saw a break in the streak of the tournament was during the Second World War. Livestock was reared on the course to aid the war.
In the course of its history, the Augusta golf course has undergone structural changes, which has changed the method of play. In 2001, the length of the course was 6,925 yards, if measured from the famous masters trees.
In 2002, the length was increased to 7,270 yards, and in 2006, it was again increased to 7,445 yards. Many noted players commented on the modifications and expansions of the course. Golfing legend Tiger Woods passed one of his most famous comments on the change by saying, "shorter hitters are going to struggle".
The grass that occupied the golf course has also undergone modification. Initially, the grass was classified as the wide blade Bermuda. After the 1970s, that was replaced with the narrow-bladed Bermuda. The Bermuda grass unfortunately did not ideally suit the golf course.
The Bermuda in par-3 was hence replaced by bent grass. The bent grass ideally suited the course, and hence, all the grass on the course was replaced with bent grass. The first tournament that was played on the new surface was in 1981.
The tournament has seen many noteworthy and legendary records being established. In 1997, Tiger Woods became the youngest player to win the tournament. He was only 21 years old then. In the 1997 championship, he also broke some very significant records.
The oldest player to win the championship was Jack Nicklaus, in 1986, as he was 46 years old at that time. Several other golfing records have been established at the Masters, and several more are yet to be broken, as the tournament enters yet another era of modernization.