US Masters history

From Bobby Jones to Tiger Woods and from the introduction of the green jacket to Nick Faldo's famous defeat of Greg Norman the US Masters at Augusta has a rich and varied history built up over nearly three quarters of a century.

Augusta National

1931 -  In 1931 Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts bought a 365-acre nursery and built the Augusta National Golf Club, deciding three years later to stage an annual golf tournament to which the best players from all over the world would be invited. The famously modest Jones was initially unsure as to how successful the venture and his new course would be and refrained from referring to the event as the Masters – choosing instead to name it the Augusta National Invitation Tournament.

March 1934 - The inaugural US Masters tees off, some 74 years after the first Open Championship. It immediately drew the attention of the world’s media due to its association with Bobby Jones. The event was won by Horton Smith but it was the second renewal in '35 that sparked worldwide interest for the first time. Gene Sarazen’s albatross at the 15th in the final round helped him to force a play-off, which he ultimately won comfortably from Craig Wood. His remarkable shot made headlines far and wide, and after only two years the tournament was already firmly on the map. The event has retained its status as an invitation-only competition to this day, with the majority of the invitations now given automatically to the world’s top-ranked players. 

1934 - 1959 - Long drive contests were

held at the US Masters from 1934 through to 1959. Greg Bayer won several

of them, including the last ever contest, when he launched a monstrous

drive of 321 yards.

1935 - Up until 1935 the course at Augusta was played in different order to the one played today. The nines were reversed in the golf tournament's second year. 

1939 - Jones bowed to pressure and agreed to change the name to the Masters Tournament. In the years following the Second World War the event went from strength to strength and quickly became universally known as a Major title. The course became one of the most recognisable in the world.

1949 - The iconic Green Jacket made its first appearance when it was presented to that year’s champion, Sam Snead.

Late 1950s - Golf entered a new era of worldwide television and sponsorship in the late 1950s – coinciding with the rise of Arnold Palmer, who won the first of his four titles in 1958.

1959 - The nine-hole par-3 course opened in 1959 and has a course record of 20 strokes, held by Art Wall and Gay Brewer.

1960 - The first Par-3 Championship was played on the eve of the US Masters.

1961 - South Africa’s Gary Player became the first overseas winner in 1961.

1965/66 - Jack Nicklaus, a record six-time champion, became the first man to retain the green jacket with wins in 1965 and '66. Twenty years on he unforgettably won his sixth crown at the ripe old age of 46 amid unprecedented scenes of jubilation.

1980 - Severiano Ballesteros is the first European winner.

1983 - The club’s ban on tour caddies was lifted. Up until then only working Augusta National caddies were permitted to carry the players’ bags. The policy changed but the famous white uniforms remain.

1989/90 - Nick Faldo became England’s first winner. Faldo went on to successfully defend the title in 1990, becoming only the second man after Nicklaus to achieve such a feat. The 1980s were golden years for European golf and this extended to the Masters, with players from the Continent winning six times.

1996 - Notorious final-day blunders have contributed to the tournament’s reputation as being the most pressurised in golf and they are as much a part of Masters folklore as the great champions themselves. In 1996 Greg Norman led the field by six shots on the final day

but ended up losing by five, while Scott Hoch missed a two-foot putt for the title in '89 during a play-off with Faldo.

1997 - 21-year-old Tiger Woods became the youngest ever winner and set the record for the biggest victory margin – 12 shots. The world of golf moved into a new era at Augusta that day and it has never been the same since.

2001/02 and 2005 - Tiger Woods takes another three Masters titles putting him on his way to beating Nicklaus' six title record.


Where next? Augusta Masters hole-by-hole guide Wilson Staff kit the best: Gene Sarazen and Padraig Harrington Augusta Blog

US Masters pictures The English Contingent at the US Masters at Augusta 2009


The leading website from the world’s oldest golf magazine, we’re the go-to destination for amateur and keen golfers alike who are keen to up their golfing game. As well as expert course reviews, news and tips to improve your handicap our golf-focused travel content will help you pair teeing off with your travels in some of the best destinations around the globe.