Doughtie Sr. on Golf (April 2012)

The youngest,and first Major of the golfing calendar,usually has most of us glued to the telvision late into the night during the first days of April each year,when our season is just beginning with the first Medals and The Competitie.

THE MASTERS........The only Major to be contested over the same course every year,as it has been since 1934.

Augusta National Golf Club was the brainchild of Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts.Jones,without doubt ,the greatest amateur golfer of all time,retired from competitive play in 1930,the year he completed the ultimate Grand Slam of the British and US Amateur and Open titles in the same year.He was only 29.Roberts,from a humble upbringing became succesful and rich on Wall Street before the crash and Depression of 1929.

They were able to convince 80 investors to part with enough dollars to realise their dream of Augusta.Of the original founders 60 were from New York,giving them a private domain in the heart of the South,only 68 years after the Civil War.After suitable acreage had been located at a fruit plantation,from the Belgian Berckman family,Scottish course designer Dr Alister MacKenzie was contracted to assist Jones.Augusta National was opened for play in 1933.

The dictorial twosome of Jones and Roberts,decided on everything that happened and had the idea to hold a tournament for invitees,which was known as the Augusta National Invitational Tournament as was first held in 1934 and won by Horton Smith.

It was only in 1939 that Jones relinguished to pressure to change the name to THE MASTERS.(a name he considered too hoity-toity)

It remains an invitational event even today,however World Rankings,previous victories and other criteria are considered before the invitations are sent out and anxiously awaited by the potential competitors.It is usually the smallest field of the golfing year.

In 1935 Gene Sarazen gave the tournament world-wide publicity,by "hitting the shot that was heard around the world" .His 4 wood second shot at the Par 5 15th flying 215 metres into the hole for a double eagle(as an albatross was known then).

However they had to wait until 1948 before receiving Major status.

Members were given green jackets in 1937 to make them more easily recognizable.President Eisenhower got his in 1948 in time to see the first such jacket draped over a victoroius player in 1949 ,when Sam Snead triumphed.The first trophy was awarded in 1942,the year before World War II caused the cancellation of play between 1943 and 1945,when the course was used to assist the war cause by raising cattle and turkeys.

Great comebacks of recent years are well recorded but in 1937 Byron Nelson picked up 6 shots in 2 holes to overtake Ralph Guldahl.Two years later,however, Ralph covered the last 9 in 33 to pip Sam Snead.In 1940 Jimmy Demerat,who later became the first 3 time winner,came home in 30 to win by 4 strokes.

All caddies were required to wear white overalls as from 1940 and all were local blacks.The visiting players protested on many occassions and it was not until 1982 that they were permitted to bring their own caddies.

Gary Player(South Africa)became the first overseas winner in 1961,before the show was dominated by the superstars Palmer and Nicklaus.Roberto de Vincenzo missed out on a play off in 1968 when he signed for a wrong score.Over the years there had been six 18 hole play offs ,until Fuzzy Zoeller succeeded in the 1st sudden death decider in 1979.

The custom of Honorary Starters was introduced in 1963 when Scots Freddie MacLeod and Jock Hutchison got the proceedings underway.Many greats like Sam Snead,Gene Sarazen,Byron Nelson have hit the opening shots,until `youngsters `Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus took over recently.

After a great fight against a terminal illness,Bobby Jones passed away in 1971.Clifford Roberts body was found at IkeĀ“s Pond on the Par 3 course on the misty morning of 30th September 1977......he had taken his own life after being diagnosed with cancer.

Lee Elder became the first black competitor in 1975.

Jack Nicklaus is the oldest winner,with is historic victory in 1986 aged 46.Tiger Woods is the youngest holder of a Green Jacket at 21.

No amateur has ever won THE MASTERS.The effervescent Frank Stranahan was runner up in 1947 as was Ken Venturi in 1956 and Charlie Coe in 1961,after leading by 4 shots going into the final round.

Thirty four US golfers have their name on a locker in the Champions room with a total of 56 victories.Six different Europeans have succeeded 11 times in a Golden period between 1980 and 1995,while 3 South Africans have notched up 5 ,including last years event.

Well that was a little look behind the scenes at some of the trivia of THE MASTERS.No matter whether or not your favourite is participating this year ,captivating TV viewing will keep us up late at night for these 4 days......Happy viewing

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