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A Guide to the US Masters Golf Tournament

The US Masters is an annual golf tournament organised by the Augusta National Golf Club in the city of Augusta, Georgia. It is the only major golf tournament that is held by a private golf club and not a national golf organisation like the PGA. The competition is held on a private course owned by the organisers, with a length of 7,475 yards and 18 holes. The US Masters starts on the second Thursday of April and ends on the Sunday of the same week.

The competition is held in a stroke play format in which the total number of strokes is counted over all rounds of the 18 holes. This is opposed to match play, in which individual holes are counted. Contestants will play four rounds of 18 holes, and when they finish the first 36 holes, there will be a cut. Players who are in the top 50 after the first two rounds conclude will "make the cut" and they can progress to the following two rounds.

The following two rounds are played during the weekend, and at the end of the fourth round, if there is no overall winner, the players tied for the lead will have to play a sudden death playoff. The playoffs are played on the 18th and 10th holes, alternating if the sudden death has multiple rounds. There can be multiple rounds if the contestants in the sudden death rounds keep tying, and the last player remaining wins the US Masters.

History of the US Masters

The concept for the Augusta National Golf Club, that would become the creators and organisers of the US Masters, came from Bobby Jones. A lawyer by profession, Bobby Jones played golf at an amateur level and dominated the top level amateur competitions, and he also played against some of the top professional players. He retired from golf in 1930, at the age of 28, and then three years later founded Augusta National. With help from Clifford Richards, who would become the chairman of the club later, the two found a piece of land in Augusta, Georgia. They hired the famous Scottish golf course architect Alister MacKenzie to design the course and work finished in 1933.

The first tournament was held in 1934. All of the golfers invited were associates of Bobby Jones and included both amateurs and professionals. The first tournament was won by professional golfer Horton Smith, who won by two strokes with a score of four under par 284. The following year, Gene Sarazen hit the "shot heard 'round the world", from the fairway on par 5 15th for a double eagle. This effort put him on equal strokes with Craig Wood. The two professional golfers proceeded to a 36 hole playoff, where Sarazen won by five strokes.

Over the years, the US Masters has seen many famous rivalries and golfing feats by some of the best golfers in the world. The 1960s and 1970s saw rivalries between "The Big Three" of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. Between the three golfers, they won a total of 13 US Masters, with Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus winning it for 5 consecutive years in the 1960s and Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus winning it for 3 consecutive years in the early 1970s.

Arnold Palmer was the first golfer from the big three to win a US Masters in 1958 when he won by one stroke. In 1960, he managed to win again by one stroke again, when he was trailing by one point to Ken Venturi, Palmer produced two birdies on the last two holes to clinch the win. He went on to win two more US Masters in 1962 and in 1964.

Jack Nicklaus, also called "The Golden Bear", won his first US Masters in 1963 when he beat Tony Lema by one stroke. Arnold Palmer won in the following year, and then Jack Nicklaus bounced back to win in 1964. In 1964 Nicklaus shot a course record of 271, to which Bobby Jones said Nicklaus played "a game with which I am not familiar". The following year he won again, after a tense 3 way tie playoff against Tommy Jacobs and Gay Brewer. Nicklaus won twice in the 1970s and then won his final US Masters in 1986 at the age of 46 years and 82 days, a record which still stands to this day.

When South African Gary Player won his first Masters in 1961, he became the first non-American champion. He managed to beat Arnold Palmer, by one stroke when Palmer double bogeyed at the final hole. He would have to wait over ten years to win his second Masters, which he did in 1974 when he won by two strokes. His second US Masters win was followed by a drought of four years when he did not win any major tournament, until 1978 when he won the US Masters again.

In modern times, the competition has far more international players, and is still open to amateurs and professionals alike. The US Masters winners are awarded privileges such as invitations to play in the US Open, Open Championship and PGA Championship for the following five years and will receive lifetime invitations to the US Masters. There have been far more international winners and to date, players from 12 different countries have won the prestigious title.

Traditions at the US Masters

Green Jacket

The winners of the US Masters are always presented with a green jacket in addition to their trophy and cash prize. The green jacket is a ceremonial item, it is the official attire of the Augusta National, and winners of the US Masters automatically become members of the golf club.

The Trophy

The US Masters trophy is a silver trophy which is kept in the Augusta National. The winners of the tournament have their names engraved on the famous silverware and receive a gold medal that they can take home. In 1952, the Silver Cup was added as a reward for the lowest scoring amateur to make the cut, and then in 1978 a silver salver was also added as an award for the runner up of the tournament. The Double Eagle trophy is another award that was added in 1967 for golfers who hole a double eagle. So far only two players have managed to pull off a double eagle; Gene Sarazen in 1932 and Bruce Devlin in 1967.

Champions' Dinner

The Champions Dinner is held each year to honour all of the past champions of the US Masters. It was first hosted in 1952 by Ben Hogan and all 11 of the past champions attended, with some members of the Augusta National and the chairman. The dinner is selected by the defending champion, who usually chooses to present foods from their country or region. When Tiger Woods won his first US Masters at the age of 21, he selected cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, French fries and milkshakes, and when he had to comment he said,

"They said you can pick anything you want... Hey, it's part of being young, and that's what I eat."

US Masters Winners and Records

Most Wins

Currently Jack Nicklaus has the most wins at the US Masters with six wins in 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975 and 1986. He is followed by Tiger Woods, who is still active and has won 5 US Masters in 1997, 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2019.

Lowest Score

The record for the best score was set in 2020 by Dustin Johnson, who finished the US Masters with 268 strokes.

Most Appearances

Gary Player holds the record for the most appearances at the US Masters, having played in 52 different tournaments, of which he won three.

How to bet on the US Masters

Betting on golf is popular with fans because there are many aspects of the game that allow people to customise their bets. While there are a number of bets such as outrights, or winners of the individual rounds, golf fans with a keener eye for the game will be able to take advantage of more specific markets. These include bets such as betting on whether a player will make a par, bogey, birdie eagle and so on, or the winning margin by which a player will win a round. Golf also allows for virtual matchups, where you can bet on how two players will perform against each other, which can prove to be a highly attractive and entertaining bet.

When gambling, it is always important to only play within your budget, and to never play with more than you can afford to lose. There are many institutions such as that can help with responsible gambling.

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