The Masters Tournament
With the schedule change to the fall last year, it feels like only yesterday when we watched Dustin Johnson lift the 2020 trophy at Augusta National, and it feels like Christmas came early this year with the Masters back where it belongs—the best golf week of the year. With the weather warming up, flowers coming into bloom, birds chirping, the golf season starting up, and four days of watching the best players in world compete at one of the most beautiful and iconic settings in golf, you really can’t ask for a more. We missed out on that feeling last year, and it’s making 2021 all the more special. The Masters was founded in 1934 by golf legend Bobby Jones and his friend Clifford Roberts. Jones and Roberts built the course on a beautiful piece of property that had previously been a nursery, with trees and plants coming from all over the world. When they decided to host their own championship, it was originally called the “Augusta National Invitation Tournament,” and held that name until 1940, when it became “The Masters Tournament”. Since inception, The Masters has been played in the first week of April, and Bobby Jones’ immense popularity combined with the sheer beauty of the course, immediately made the event one of the most popular on tour. Masters week begins with the Champions Dinner on Tuesday evening, with all of the previous winners in attendance and the reigning champion selecting the menu. On Wednesday, players compete in the famed Par-3 contest (interestingly, no winner of the Par-3 has ever gone on to win The Masters). Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Par-3 contest will not be held this week.
Since Bobby Jones remained an amateur throughout his career, The Masters field includes a large number of accomplished amateurs, including the reigning U.S. Amateur champion and runner up, as well as winners of the British Amateur, Asian Amateur, U.S. Public Links and U.S. Mid-Amateur championships. Amateurs competing in The Masters also have the opportunity to stay at the “Crow’s Nest,” located in the clubhouse above the locker room—an experience that every talented young golfer dreams about. The Masters has the smallest field of all the majors, generally between 90 and 100 players. In addition to the amateurs, the top 50 players in the world automatically qualify along with players who have won the PGA Championship, U.S. Open, or Open Championship within the last 5 years. In addition, past Masters champions receive a lifetime invitation, allowing each player to decide for himself when the time has come to withdraw from the field. The favorite this week has to be Jordan Spieth. With a host of top ten finishes in 2021, fresh off a win at the Valero last week, a Green Jacket already hanging in his locker and a white-hot putter, Jordan has to be licking his chops. As the number one ranked player in world and reigning Masters champion, Dustin Johnson should be at the top of the list as well, but he’s been struggling with the driver as of late. Perhaps the familiar surroundings and positive vibe will rouse him—Augusta has always been a friend to the big hitter. And speaking of big hitters, Bryson DeChambeau will no doubt make his presence felt this week. Also keep an eye on Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm—all power players likely to be in the mix on Sunday. One of the great things about Augusta though, length means a lot—but not everything (remember Ben Crenshaw with a pair of Green Jackets). And the Masters can be entirely unpredictable as well—maybe we’ll see an amateur making history this week (Ollie Osborne perhaps?).
Augusta National Golf Club
Augusta National was established by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts in 1933. The course was originally designed by the legendary Alistair Mackenzie, with a great deal of input from Bobby Jones. Over the years, some of the great names in golf course architecture have lent their abilities to maintain the essence of Bobby Jones’ vision and keep the course current in the face of changing equipment, including Perry Maxwell, Robert Trent Jones, Sr., and Jack Nicklaus. In addition to the eighteen-hole championship course, Augusta National also includes one of the finest par 3 courses in the world.