The idea for Augusta National originated with Bobby Jones, who wanted to build a golf course after his retirement from the game. He sought advice from Clifford Roberts, who later became the chairman of the club. They came across a piece of land in Augusta, Georgia, of which 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 upon it."The land had been an indigo plantation in the early nineteenth century and a plant nursery since 1857. Jones hired Alister MacKenzie to help design the course, and work began in 1931. The course formally opened in 1933, but MacKenzie died before the first Masters Tournament was played.
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, is held on the Tuesday before each tournament, and 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. These have included Fred McLeod, Jock Hutchinson, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Gary Player. Since 1960, a semi-social contest at the par-3 course has been played on Wednesday, the day before the first round.
The total prize money for the 2014 tournament was $9,000,000, with $1,620,000 going to the winner. In the inaugural year of 1934, the winner Horton Smith received $1,500 out of a $5,000 purse. After Nicklaus's first win in 1963, he received $20,000, while after his final victory in 1986 he won $144,000. In recent years the purse has grown quickly. Between 2001 and 2014, the winner's share grew by $612,000, and the purse grew by $3,400,000.
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