114 Historic Firsts at The Masters and Augusta National

Augusta National logo in flowers with clubhouse in background

Augusta National Golf Club is a place, and The Masters Tournament an event, brimming over with history. One way to sift through some of that history is to look at the firsts — the important steps that have been taken in the evolution of the club and tournament.

Some of the firsts that follow are famous and historic. Others are more obscure but fun. Let's dive in.

Land for the club site was first acquired: In 1931. Cofounders Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones purchased land that was located several miles northwest of Downtown Augusta, Ga., and had formerly been the site of Fruitland Nurseries. The purchase price was reportedly around $70,000.

First golf course architect to work on Augusta National: Alister Mackenzie, hired in 1931.

Golf course construction first began: In November 1931.

Augusta National first opened: In December 1932. The official grand opening ceremony was held in January 1933, so that date is sometimes listed as the opening date. But the course opened to members and dignitaries one month earlier.

First membership fees at Augusta National: $350 initiation fee and $60 annual dues. And it was a hard sell — the club opened in the middle of the Great Depression, after all.

First Masters Tournament started: March 22, 1934.

First shot ever played in The Masters: Ralph Stonehouse's drive off today's No. 10 hole (which in 1934 was the No. 1). It was down the middle, and he made a par.

The Masters' first name: Before it was officially titled The Masters Tournament, it was named the Augusta National Invitation Tournament.

First Masters ace: Ross Somerville made the first hole-in-one on the 145-yard 16th hole in 1934.

First broadcast of The Masters: 1934, on the radio.

First Masters champion: Horton Smith, 1934.

First Masters with the current course routing: 1935. At the inaugural Masters in 1934, the nines were opposite what they are today: The No. 1 hole in 1934 is the No. 10 hole today; the No. 10 hole in 1934 is the No. 1 hole today. In 1935, the nines were flipped, creating the order of holes we see today.

Year the Augusta National driving range first opened: 1935.

First double eagle: Gene Sarazen, 1935. It happened in the final round when Sarazen holed a 4-wood from 235 yards on the 15th hole. In one swing, it tied him with the leader, Craig Wood, whom Sarazen had trailed by three strokes. Sarazen went on to defeat Wood in a playoff.

First Masters playoff: 1935, the aforementioned Sarazen over Wood. It was a 36-hole playoff.

First Asian golfers in The Masters: Seisui Chin and Toichro Toda, 1936. They were the best Japanese golfers of their time, and drew Jones' attention when they toured the United States in 1935. They fared pretty well, too: Chin, called "Chick" by the other golfers, finished tied for 20th; Toda, called "Torchy," finished tied for 29th.

First to win The Masters twice: Horton Smith, who added a second championship in 1936 to the one he won in 1934.

First year club members wore green jackets: 1937. Augusta National members adopted the green jacket tradition so that fans in attendance could spot them in the crowd.

First golfer with a final score below 280: Ralph Guldahl (279), 1939.

First to win The Masters after winning the week before on Tour: Ralph Guldahl, 1939, who won the Greater Greensboro Open the week before his Masters victory.

First golfer to score 65 or lower in a Masters round: Lloyd Mangrum, 1940, with a 64 in the first round.

First year Masters caddies wore white coveralls: 1940.

First wire-to-wire Masters winner: Craig Wood, 1941.

First 18-hole playoff: It happened in 1942, when Byron Nelson defeated Ben Hogan, 69 to 70, in the playoff.

First tennis major champion to play The Masters: Ellsworth Vines, 1947. Vines turned to golf when his tennis career was over. He won Wimbledon in 1932 and the U.S. Open in 1931-32. At the 1947 Masters he shot 294, 13 strokes behind the winner and middle of the pack.

First time leaderboards were erected on the course: 1947.

First golfer to play four rounds under par: Jimmy Demaret shot 69-71-70-71 and won for the second time in 1947.

First to win by five strokes or more: Claude Harmon (by five over Cary Middlecoff), 1948.

First Masters Bobby Jones didn't play: 1949. Jones played in the first 12 Masters with a best finish of 13th in 1934.

First time the fairways were roped during the tournament: 1949.

First time the winner received the Green Jacket: Sam Snead, 1949.

First three-time winner: Jimmy Demaret, who won in 1950 for No. 3.

First year medals were awarded: 1951. Medals were given to Masters winners and to the runners-up, a practice that continues today. The winner gets a gold medal and the runner-up a silver medal.

First Champions Dinner: 1952, arranged by Ben Hogan. The dinner was formalized the following year and has been held every Masters since. (See decades of Champions Dinner menus)

First year the low amateur received the Silver Cup: 1952. Chuck Kocsis was the first recipient.

First golfer to finish below 275: Ben Hogan (274), 1953.

First to win at double-digits under par: Ben Hogan (-14), 1953.

First age 40-or-older champion: Ben Hogan, 1953.

First over-par champion: Sam Snead (+1), 1954.

First bridge named after a golfer at Augusta National: The Sarazen Bridge, dedicated to Gene Sarazen on April 6, 1955.

First time Arnold Palmer played: 1955. He finished tied for 10th place.

First time The Masters was televised: 1956. CBS televised play on holes 15 through 18 in the second through fourth rounds.

First year a cut was used: 1957. The Masters was no-cut before.

First time Gary Player played: 1957, and Player finished tied for 24th.

First year the Par-3 Course was part of Augusta National: The Augusta Par-3 Course, designed by Augusta National cofounder Clifford Roberts and architect George Cobb, opened in 1958.

First time 'Amen Corner' was used for Holes 11-13: Sportswriter Herbert Warren Wind coined the name "Amen Corner" for holes 11, 12 and 13 in his Sports Illustrated article about the 1958 Masters. Wind's article was dated April 21, 1958.

First time Jack Nicklaus played: 1959, when, as a 19-year-old amateur, Nicklaus missed the cut.

First golfer to win by birdying his final hole: Art Wall birdied his 72nd hole to win the 1959 Masters.

First Par-3 Contest: The Masters Par-3 Contest was first played in 1960, won by Sam Snead.

First time scoring in relation to par was used on leaderboards: Beginning at the 1960 Masters, scoreboards around the course displayed cumulative scoring in relation to par — each golfer was shown as being X strokes over or under par (as opposed to total number of strokes played). Under-par scores are displayed in red, over-par scores in green.

First golfer to win on the final stroke of the tournament: Arnold Palmer, 1960. Palmer's birdie putt was the last stroke played in the tournament, and it gave him a 1-shot win over Ken Venturi.

First non-American winner of Masters: Gary Player became the first international champion when he won in 1961.

First 3-way Masters playoff: 1962. Arnold Palmer (68) defeated Gary Player (71) and Dow Finsterwald (77) over 18 holes.

First year Augusta National limited ticket sales: 1963. In the early years tickets were on sale at various establishments around Augusta, Ga., and very easy to get. As the tournament grew in popularity, more and more tickets were being sold. This year, Augusta National capped the number of fans who could attend each day, which, of course, started making tickets even more sought-after.

First 'honorary starters': Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod, in 1963, began the tradition of hitting ceremonial first drives.

First champion younger than 25: Jack Nicklaus (age 23), 1963.

First former champ to die: Horton Smith in December of 1963. Only 55 years old, the 1934 and 1936 champion succumbed to cancer.

First golfer with four Masters wins: Arnold Palmer won his fourth in 1964.

First to finish 15 or more strokes under par: Jack Nicklaus (17-under), 1965.

First year Butler Cabin was used for the TV broadcast: 1965, one year after Butler Cabin was built. The Green Jacket ceremony took place inside Butler Cabin for the first time, too, in order to get it on TV.

First back-to-back winner: Jack Nicklaus, 1965-66.

First sellout of 'Masters Series Badges': 1966. A series badge serves as a weeklong ticket for entry to the course and tournament.

First Masters televised in color: 1966.

First TV broadcast outside the USA: 1967, when the BBC broadcast The Masters in the UK.

First Masters without Bobby Jones: 1972. Jones died on December 18, 1971.

First year there was a waiting list for tickets: 1973. Prior to 1973, the tournament offered tickets for sale directly to the public. In 1973, however, Augusta National first established a waiting list for individual tickets to tournament days.

First year The Masters was broadcast in Japan: 1973.

First year the 12th hole was part of TV broadcasts: 1973. Until 1969, only Holes 15-18 were seen on CBS's television broadcast. In 1971, coverage was extended back to the 13th hole. And in 1973 the famous par-3 "Golden Bell" 12th hole finally was seen on TV.

First golfer with at least four eagles in the same Masters: Bruce Crampton, 1974.

First golfer to shoot 30 on the front nine: Johnny Miller, 1975.

First African-American to play The Masters: Lee Elder, 1975.

First five-time winner: Jack Nicklaus won his fifth Masters title in 1975.

First golfer with six consecutive birdies in the same round: Johnny Miller, 1975.

First Masters without Clifford Roberts: 1978. The Augusta National and Masters cofounder stepped down as chairman in 1977. On Sept. 29, 1977, in failing health at age 83, Roberts committed suicide on the golf course.

First year the Founders Circle was part of Augusta National: The grassy area within the roundabout in front of the Augusta National clubhouse was christened Founders Circle in 1978, with plaques honoring Jones and Roberts.

First use of bentgrass at Augusta National: The Par-3 Course was resodded with bentgrass (changing from the original bermudagrass) in 1978.

First golfer to play his 40th Masters: Sam Snead, 1979.

First sudden-death playoff: 1979. Fuzzy Zoeller made birdie on the second extra hole, beating Tom Watson and Ed Sneed.

First European winner: Seve Ballesteros, 1980.

First Masters played on bentgrass greens: 1981. Previously bermudagrass, the greens were converted to bentgrass following the 1980 tournament.

First year golfers could use their own caddies: 1983. Before then, golfers had to use caddies employed by Augusta National during The Masters.

First golfer to shoot 63: Nick Price, third round in 1986.

First six-time Masters champion: Jack Nicklaus won it for the sixth time in 1986.

First hometown winner: Larry Mize became the first native of Augusta, Georgia, to win The Masters in 1987.

First African-American member of Augusta National: Ron Townsend, admitted in 1990 when he was president of Gannett Television Group.

First time Phil Mickelson played: 1991. The 20-year-old Mickelson finished tied for 46th and was low amateur.

First to make the cut at least 30 times: Jack Nicklaus, 1991.

First to shoot 29 on the back nine: Mark Calcavecchia, 1992.

First time the current Masters Trophy was awarded: 1993. Each year since, the winner is presented with a trophy, a replica of the Augusta National clubhouse. (A much larger version, referred to as "the permanent Masters Trophy," dates to 1961 and permanently resides inside the clubhouse.)

First time Tiger Woods played: 1995. Woods, age 19, tied for 41st to earn low amateur honors.

First golfer to eagle the same par-4 hole twice in the same Masters: Jack Nicklaus eagled the par-4 fifth hole in both the first and third rounds in 1995.

First to lose a lead of five strokes or more entering the final round: Greg Norman, 1996 (led by six going into the final round, finished in second place five shots behind Nick Faldo).

First to win by 10 or more strokes: Tiger Woods, 1997 (won by 12 over Tom Kite).

First champion younger than 23: Tiger Woods (age 21), 1997.

First golfer with seven consecutive birdies in the same round: Steve Pate, 1999.

First with 25 or more birdies in a single Masters: Phil Mickelson, 2001.

First golfer with 50 consecutive par-or-better holes: Stuart Appleby, 2001.

First TV broadcast to show all 18 holes: 2002, during the final round. The front nine had not been part of the television broadcast previously.

First left-handed winner: Mike Weir, 2003.

First Canadian winner: Mike Weir, 2003.

First golfer to play in 50 Masters: Arnold Palmer, 50th in 2004.

First time the Par-3 Contest was televised: 2008.

First South American winner: Angel Cabrera, 2009.

First 16-year-old to play: Matteo Manassero, 2010.

First 50-or-older golfer to break 280: Fred Couples (279), 2010.

First Year the 'Big 3' served as honorary starters: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player were honorary starters together beginning at the 2012 Masters. Palmer first did it in 2007; Nicklaus joined him in 2010 and Player joined them this year. They three did it together four times, 2012-15.

First women members of Augusta National: Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore, whose selections were announced on Aug. 20, 2012.

First Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at Augusta National: 2013.

First 14-year-old to play The Masters: Tianlang Guan, 2013. Guan made the cut and finished as low amateur.

First Australian winner: Adam Scott, 2013.

First to reach 19-under par: Jordan Spieth, 2015. Spieth hit 19-under with a birdie on the 15th hole of the final round. He bogeyed the last hole of the tournament, however, to finish at 18-under, tying Tiger Woods' record for most strokes under par by a winner.

First time Augusta National Women's Amateur was played: 2019.

First Masters played in November: 2020. We could also have labeled this "first postponed by a pandemic" since the COVID-19 pandemic caused Augusta National to push the 2020 tournament back from April to November.

First golfer to finish 20-under par: Dustin Johnson's winning total in 2020 was 268, 20-under par.

First Japanese and first Asian winner: Hideki Matsuyama, 2021.

Photo credit: "File:AugustaNationalMastersLogoFlowers.jpg" by pocketwiley is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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