Masters History & Info
Upon his retirement from championship golf in 1930, Bobby Jones had hoped to realize his dream of building a golf course. Jones wanted this concept of golf course architecture to make a contribution to the game as well as give expression to his ideas about golf course design. This club would be open during the winter season only.
Thomas Barrett, Jr., a mutual friend of Jones and Roberts, was consulted and recommended a 365-acre property called Fruitland Nurseries. The nursery was once an indigo plantation and was purchased in 1857 by Belgian Baron Louis Mathieu Edouard Berckmans, who was a horticulturist by hobby. Berckmans’ son,
Prosper Julius Alphonso, was an agronomist and horticulturist by profession, and the two formed a partnership in 1858. Operating under the name Fruitland Nurseries, the company imported many trees and plants from various countries. The Baron died in 1883. Prosper’s death followed in 1910 and the nursery ceased operations by the time its charter expired in 1918. A great variety of flowering plants and trees, including a long row of magnolias, which were planted before the Civil War, and a plant Prosper popularized called the azalea, remained on the property.
Upon seeing the property from what is now the practice putting green, Jones said, “Perfect! And to think this ground has been lying here all these years waiting for someone to come along and lay a golf course on it.”
Construction on the new course began in the first half of 1931 and the course opened in December 1932 with a limited amount of member play. Formal opening took place in January 1933.
Looking to provide a service to golf by hosting a tournament, Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts decided to hold an annual event beginning in 1934.
The final decision was made at a meeting in New York at the office of member W. Alton Jones. Roberts proposed the event be called the Masters Tournament, but Bobby Jones objected thinking it too presumptuous. The name Augusta National Invitation Tournament was adopted and the title was used for five years until 1939 when Jones relented and the name was officially changed.
Many decisions made in the early days of the Tournament remain today. Among these are the four-day stroke playing 18 holes each day instead of the then customary 36 holes on the third day, eliminating qualifying rounds, roping the fairways, and denying permission for anyone except the player and caddie to be in the playing area. A complimentary pairings sheet and a spectator booklet were provided, and commercialization in any form of the Tournament was limited.
The first Tournament was held March 22, 1934, and beginning in 1940, the Masters was scheduled each year during the first full week in April.