Your ultimate Masters guide: 25 answers to questions you were too afraid to ask

Dustin Johnson

Dustin Johnson tees off on the 17th hole at Augusta National Golf Club during last year's Masters.

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You know that the Masters has seven letters. But maybe that’s all you know. 

If that’s the case, we’ll try to spell it all out for you. Here is our ultimate Masters guide, with 25 questions (with answers!) you were afraid to ask.

1. What is the Masters? 

The Masters is a four-round, 72-hole, stroke-play golf tournament. (Should there be a tie after 72, there is a sudden-death playoff. The playoff begins on the 18th hole and then moves to the 10th if a second hole is necessary. It alternates between these holes until a winner  emerges.) It is the first of golf’s four majors (the U.S. Open, the Open Championship and the PGA Championship being the others). 

2. When is the Masters? 

The Masters, beginning in 1940, is played each year during the first full week in April. Except for last year, The 2020 Masters was played Nov. 12-15 after the event was postponed due to the pandemic. This year’s Masters is Thursday through Sunday. 

3. Where is the Masters?

The 13th hole at the Masters.
View from the top: Every hole at Augusta National, explained by a different Masters champion
By: GOLF Editors

The Masters is played at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., about two hours east of Atlanta. 

4. Why is it called the Masters?

It had been called the Augusta National Invitational Tournament for five years. Club co-founder Clifford Roberts had suggested calling it the Masters Tournament, but the other co-founder, Bobby Jones, “objected, thinking it too presumptuous,” according to the Masters website. Roberts would eventually get his way.  

5. How do you get to play the Masters?

Through invitation through 19 ways of qualifying. This year’s 19 ways are: 

  1. Masters Tournament champions (lifetime)
  2. U.S. Open champions 2016-2020 (honorary, non-competing after five years)
  3. British Open champions 2016-2020 (honorary, non-competing after five years)
  4. PGA champions 2016-2020 (honorary, non-competing after five years)
  5. Winners of the Players Championship 2018-2021 (three years)
  6. Current Olympic gold medalist (One year)
  7. 2020 U.S. Amateur champion (7-A) (honorary, non-competing after one year) and the runner-up (7-B) to the 2020 U.S. Amateur champion
  8. 2020 British Amateur champion (honorary, non-competing after one year)
  9. 2020 Asia-Pacific Amateur champion
  10. 2021 Latin America Amateur champion
  11. 2020 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion
  12. The first 12 players, including ties, in the 2020 Masters Tournament
  13. The first four players, including ties, in the 2020 U.S. Open Championship
  14. The first four players, including ties, in the 2020 British Open Championship
  15. The first four players, including ties, in the 2020 PGA Championship
  16. Individual winners of PGA Tour events that award a full-point allocation for the season-ending Tour Championship, from the originally scheduled 2020 Masters (April 9, 2020) to the 2021 Masters
  17. Those qualifying for the 2020 Tour Championship
  18. The 50 leaders on the final Official World Golf Ranking for the previous calendar year
  19. The 50 leaders on the Official World Golf Ranking published during the week prior to the current Masters Tournament

6. Can I attend the Masters?

Not this year, as the event is sold out. The ticket application process for next year’s Masters begins on June 1, and information for it can be found here

Tickets for this year do exist through secondary markets, but a warning — Augusta National does not condone Masters tickets being sold this way, and tournament organizers have a security system to prevent non-lottery winners from using secondary market tickets. In addition, badge holders caught selling their tickets have been punished in the past.

7. How can I watch the Masters? 

masters set CBS
Eye on history: A look at the evolution of CBS’ Masters broadcast
By: James Colgan

On TV, the Masters will be broadcast between ESPN and CBS. ESPN will broadcast Thursday’s first round and Friday’s second round from 3-7:30 p.m. ET; and CBS will broadcast Saturday’s third round from 3-7 p.m., and Sunday’s final round from 2-7 p.m. In addition, masters.com and the Masters app will show coverage of featured groups, holes 4, 5 and 6, Amen Corner and holes 15 and 16. 

8. Can I play the course that hosts the Masters?

You can — if you’re a member, or know a member. To become a member, you have to be invited, and if you pass screening, the initiation fee is estimated to be in the range of $40,000, with yearly dues estimated at “a few thousand” dollars per year. 

9. Tell me about the course that the Masters is played on. 

Augusta National is a par-72 played over 7,475 yards, and it opened in December 1932. It was founded by Jones and Roberts, and designed by Jones and Alister MacKenzie. It is ranked No. 6 in GOLF’s ranking of the Top 100 Courses in the U.S. One of GOLF’s raters described it this way: “Augusta National is the vision of Bobby Jones and his chosen architect, Alister MacKenzie. Both intended for Augusta National to reflect the spirit and strategic options of the Old Course at St. Andrews, the course that they admired most. Nearly every hole at St. Andrews and Augusta National provides a safe route to the green and also a riskier one. Recent tree-planting and narrowing of corridors stand in contrast to that shared vision and are at odds with what has transpired at other Golden Age cornerstone designs this century, proving what a tough position ANGC finds itself in continuing to test the world’s best players in golf’s most anticipated event. Regardless, the course’s staggering beauty and Masters tradition remain unlike any other.”

10. Who won the last Masters?

dustin johnson
‘I barely ate anything’: Dustin Johnson recalls his unexpected nerves during 2020 Masters
By: Sean Zak

Dustin Johnson won the 2020 Masters with a record 20-under 268-total. The previous mark had been 18 under and was shared by Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth. It was Johnson’s first Masters victory.   

11. What does the winner of the Masters receive? (And what’s this Green Jacket everyone keeps talking about?)

Winners are awarded money (last year, Johnson received $2.07 million from an $11.5 million purse), a sterling replica of the permanent Masters trophy, a gold medal — and the green jacket. Members wear the jacket, and it was also given to winners starting in 1949. Its exact color in pantone 342.

12. Who’s won the most Masters? 

Jack Nicklaus, who won the Masters a record six times (1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1986). Woods has won it five times (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2019), and Arnold Palmer won it four times (1958, 1960, 1962, 1964).

13. Is Tiger Woods playing in this year’s Masters?

No, he’s not. Woods was in a single-car crash in late February and suffered serious leg injuries and had multiple surgeries in the days following. He’s recovering at his home in Florida. 

14. Who’s favored to win this year’s Masters?

According to golfodds.com, Johnson is the favorite, at 8-1, followed by Bryson DeChambeau (12-1), Jon Rahm (12-1), Justin Thomas (12-1) and Rory McIlroy (16-1) 

15. Are other events played at Augusta National? 

Dustin Johnson
Your ultimate Masters guide: 25 answers to questions you were too afraid to ask

Yes. The Augusta National Women’s Amateur is played the week before the Masters, with the final round played at Augusta National on Saturday. The next day, the club hosts the Drive, Chip and Putt national finals.   

16. What is the Par 3 Contest?

The Par 3 Contest is played on Augusta National’s par-3 course on the day before the Masters. It’s a relaxed event, with wives, girlfriends, children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews serving as caddies. For the second straight year, the contest will not be held due to the pandemic.  

17. What is Amen Corner?

Holes 11, 12 and 13 make up Amen Corner, which was coined by Herbert Warren Wind in a 1958 issue of Sports Illustrated. According to a GOLF.com story: “He wrote of the sacred spot: ‘at the farthest reach of the Augusta National course — down in the Amen Corner where Rae’s Creek intersects the 13th fairway near the tee, then parallels the front edge of the green on the short 12th and finally swirls alongside the 11th green.’ Wind claimed that he’d been inspired by a jazz song called Shouting at Amen Corner, by Mezz Mezzrow. But it turns out he’d misremembered the artist. It was actually recorded by Mildred Bailey and the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra in 1933 and carried a slightly different name: Shoutin’ in that Amen Corner. Amen Corner, geographically, is the second half of 11, all of 12 and the first half of 13, but most people use Amen Corner as the umbrella term for 11, 12 and 13.”

18. What is Rae’s Creek?

The creek comes into play in front of the par-3 12th, and one of its tributaries is ahead of the par-5 13th green. It’s named after Irishman John Rae, who settled in the area and died in 1789.

19. What’s the deal with the azaleas?

An azalea is a flower, and according to the Augusta National website, more than 30 varieties can be found around the course. The flower is most prominent on the 13th hole, which features around 1,600 along its south side.  

20. What is Magnolia Lane?

Magnolia Lane is the main driveway leading from Washington Road in Augusta to Augusta National’s clubhouse. The lane is flanked by — you guessed it — magnolia trees. 

21. What the heck is a pimento cheese sandwich?

Augusta National's legendary pimento cheese sandwich.
Clubhouse Eats: Augusta National’s pimento cheese sandwich remains the ultimate tradition unlike any other
By: Jessica Marksbury

Augusta National’s pimento cheese sandwich features a mix of pimentos, cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, cream cheese, onions, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper and mayonnaise piled generously between two slices of white bread. Opinions vary, but, at the least, it’s something a patron must try, and, at the most, it’s bliss on bread. The best part may be the price — it’s a $1.50. 

22. What’s the Champions Dinner?

Started in 1952 by Ben Hogan, the Champions Dinner is held in honor of the defending champion and is attended by past champions. The defending champ also sets the menu. This year, Johnson is going with:

  • Appetizers: pigs in a blanket, and lobster and corn fritters
  • First course: house salad or Caesar salad   
  • Family-style sides: mashed potatoes and spring vegetables 
  • Main course: filet mignon and miso-marinated sea bass 
  • Desert: peach cobbler and apple pie with vanilla ice cream 

23. Is there a Masters song?

You bet there is. Augusta was written by Dave Loggins, and it has aired during CBS’ coverage of the Masters since 1982. The song is usually played instrumentally, but it does have lyrics. According to the Augusta Chronicle, they are as follows:

Well, it’s springtime in the valley on Magnolia Lane

It’s the Augusta National and the master of the game

Who’ll wear that green coat on Sunday afternoon

Who’ll walk that eighteenth fairway singing this tune

Augusta… your dogwoods and pines

They play on my mind like a song

Augusta… it’s you that I love

And it’s you that I’ll miss when I’m gone.

It’s Watson, Byron Nelson, Demaret, Player and Snead

It’s Amen Corner and it’s Hogan’s perfect swing

It’s Sarazen’s double eagle at the fifteenth in Thirty-Five

And the spirit of a Tiger that keeps it alive

Augusta… your dogwoods and pines

They play on my mind like a song

Augusta… it’s you that I love

And it’s you that I’ll miss when I’m gone.

It’s the legions of Arnie’s army and the Golden Bear’s throngs

And the wooden-shafted legend of Bobby Jones

24. Gimme a fun non-golf Masters story. 

GOLF’s Kevin Cunningham can. He recently wrote that Augusta’s waters are filled with more than errant golf balls — they’re full of fish

25. Why is the Masters so special?

Ask 100 people, and you might get 100 answers. For non-golf fans, it’s a symbolic start of spring. For golfers, it’s the history that was made and the history that will be, on a perfectly manicured course. For CBS announcer Jim Nantz it’s “a tradition unlike any other.” 

How can you find out?

Tune in starting Thursday. 

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Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor