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Why the Masters is a unique event
OF the four Majors, The Masters, always scheduled for the first week of April, has a unique touch.
It is very different from the other three Majors, the US Open, the British Open and the US PGA Championships.
For one, the Masters has the smallest field of the four Grand Slam events.
And it remains an invitation event, but there is a set of qualifying criteria that determine who is included in the field.
Then, it is always held at Augusta, where the 18 holes are named after plants. So names, such as Magnolia, Pampas, Holly and Chinese fir are often tossed up.
Chinese fir, named after the par-four 14th hole, is often known as Cunninghamia, a genus of one or two living species of evergreen coniferous trees in the cypress family Cupressaceae.
The Masters was started by noted amateur champion Bobby Jones and investment banker Clifford Roberts. After his Grand Slam in 1930, Jones acquired the former plant nursery and co-designed Augusta National with course architect Alister MacKenzie. It was first played in 1934.
The tournament has a number of traditions. Since 1949, a green jacket has been awarded to the champion, who must return it to the clubhouse one year after his victory, although it remains his personal property and is stored with other champions' jackets in a specially designated cloakroom.
In most instances, only a first-time and currently reigning champion may remove his jacket from the club grounds.
A golfer who wins the event multiple times uses the same green jacket awarded upon his initial win (unless he needs to be re-fitted with a new jacket)
The Champions Dinner, inaugurated by Ben Hogan in 1952, held on the Tuesday before each tournament, is open only to past champions and certain board members of the Augusta National Golf Club.
Beginning in 1963, legendary golfers, usually past champions, have hit an honorary tee shot on the morning of the first round to commence play.
The American legend Jack Nicklaus has the most Masters wins, with six between 1963 and 1986 while Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods won four each.
Among the past champions playing are Phil Mickelson, Woods, Ian Woosnam, Vijay Singh, Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott.
Past champions not playing are Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Nick Faldo, Tom Watson, Raymond Floyd and Mark O'Meara.