The first major of the year is only days away and for many this signals the time to get their clubs out and start playing themselves.
Augusta National is a private golf club in Augusta, Georgia on the east coast of America and is the home to the Masters Tournament, the only major that has a permanent home.
The Masters is always the first major of the year and it is an invitational event, so has a much smaller field, normally around 90 players take part from around the world.
The Masters is known for its number of traditions, with the main one being the awarding of the green jacket to the winner, this was first awarded to Sam Snead in 1949. The winning jackets don’t leave the Augusta National clubhouse, unless by a first time champion who has to return it a year after his victory.
There is also a Champions Dinner which is held on the Tuesday before each tournament and the menu for the evening is chosen by the defending champion, the dinner is only attended by past champions and certain board members of the club.
Since 1960, there has been a par 3 event contested over a par 3 course within the grounds of Augusta National, this has always been played on the Wednesday before the event. It is not an overly serious event with players children acting as caddie, this helps create a family atmosphere and brings all the players together before the main event.
In the history of the par 3 event there have been 73 hole in ones and a record five in 2002. An interesting fact is that no winner of the par 3 event has gone onto win the Masters in the same year.
The caddies also have their own tradition, they are required to wear a uniform consisting of a white jumpsuit, a green Masters cap, and white tennis shoes. The surname, and sometimes first initial, of each player is found on the back of his caddie’s uniform. The defending champion always receives the caddie number one and the other players are numbered using the order in which they registered for the tournament.
Jack Nicklaus is the most successful player at the Masters having won the green jacket on six occasions between 1963 and 1986, that is two more than current World Number One Tiger Woods who will be looking to make it 5 by Sunday evening.
Augusta National first opened in 1933, it has been modified many times by different architects. Among the changes: greens have been reshaped and, on occasion, entirely re-designed, bunkers have been added, water hazards have been extended, new tee boxes have been built, hundreds of trees have been planted, and several mounds have been installed and the course plays over 600 yards longer than in 1933.
This year will see the youngest ever player competing, Guan Tianlang, a 14 year old from China who qualified after winning the 2012 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship.
Who is going to win is an interesting question and a tough one to answer, as there is extra pressure to win a major and only the toughest survive. Rory McIlory is coming into form after his 2nd place finish last week and Tiger Woods has 3 victories to his name already this year and it would be great to see them battling at the top of the lead come the final 9 holes. Ian Poulter will also fancy his chances after some big performances of late, most notably the Ryder Cup last September at Medinah.