This week marks the beginning of golf season for many people. Some people will begin to drag their clubs out and shake the dust gathered over the winter.
Not only is the weather getting close to perfect here in northwest Arkansas, many golf enthusiasts will gather in a town in Georgia by the name of Augusta.
That’s right, the Masters has arrived and marks a point where golf bursts back onto the scene again. Golf has captured a lot of attention this year in large part because of three victories by Tiger Woods.
Despite his past and his ability to come off very arrogant, he wins and we all watch and awe at what he has been able to accomplish not only recently, but his whole career.
Augusta National was opened in 1933 by co-founders Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts. It only took one year before the first Masters was held and won by Horton Smith.
The famous green jacket that every winner now puts on was not introduced until 1937, however. I have been calling the tournament the Masters thus far, but actually it was not given this formal name until 1939 when Sam Snead put on the green jacket.
The Masters is full of a very rich history. Essentially all of the best players ever have won or at least played in this tournament.
Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Snead and Woods all fit into this category. Many players play with every ounce of passion just to qualify for the field. The first major of the year brings about its share of talent and drama to kick off a stretch that the professionals prepare for every offseason.
The par-3 contest has also been a major part of this historic venue. This event is held on the eve of the regular event as a stress relief and dates back more than half a century. The inaugural event was held in 1960 and was won by Sam Snead, who won again in 1974.
The field contains tournament participants, past champions and honorary invitees. The holes vary in length from 70 to 140 yards and play over DeSoto Springs and Ike’s pond. There have been a collective 75 hole-in-ones in the event, including five in 2002 to mark the best all-time.
The par-3 event is both a stress reliever and a curse, in some ways. No participant who has won the par-3 event has ever gone on to win the actual Masters in the same year.
Many participants can just play for leisure and not post a score to enjoy the young caddies and family friendly feeling this event brings every year.
Many people feel that Tiger Woods is a favorite to slip the green jacket on once again this year, which would make his fifth. Woods is chasing the mark at Augusta set by Jack Nicklaus’ heralded six victories.
Last year’s champion Bubba Watson provided the gallery with plenty of drama Sunday last year to earn his first major. Another dark horse could emerge this year and snatch the jacket away from Woods or any other big name player that fans may expect to win.
Zack Wheeler is a writer for the Arkansas Traveler. His column appears every Tuesday. Follow the sports section on Twitter @UATravSports.