Masters Par-3 Contest: What you need to know

April 7, 2015

The par-3 contest at the Masters is a unique tradition in sports for a lot of reasons. Held annually the Wednesday before the first round, the event combines current competitors and past champions. It used to allow honorary invitees, but that changed in 2017. Competitors’ wives and family members add to the mix, which has raised the par-3 contest’s “cute factor” significantly.

Sam Snead won the first Masters par-3 contest in 1960, two years after the nine-hole course was completed in 1958. The course was designed by George Cobb with help from Augusta National co-founder Clifford Roberts and plays to a par of 27 at 1,060 yards. Tom Fazio designed two new holes in 1986 that would play over Ike’s Pond. The holes replaced two of the originals, which became spectator areas for the par-3 contest.

The total number of holes-in-one made over the years at the Masters par-3 contest is widely disputed, but 2016 increased that number by nearly a dozen. A record nine were made in 2016, besting the previous record of five made in 2002, when Toshi Izawa made back-to-back aces on holes five and six.

Among the nine in 2016, Gary Player became the oldest to make an ace at 80 years old. And Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler had back-to-back holes-in-one. You can watch all three of those videos below. Inclement weather canceled the 2017 Par-3 Contest.

It’s become a family outing lately. Paulina Gretzky and Ellie Day have caddied before, and Tiger Woods has had his kids caddie for him. Rory McIlroy had friend and One Direction star Niall Horan on his bag in 2015.

Despite all the fanfare, the most important fact about the Masters Par-3 Contest is that the champ has never gone on to win a green jacket in the same week. Because of this, most players do not post a score and often let their kids or caddies hit shots or putts for them.

The Par-3 Contest winner receives a crystal bowl and prizes are awarded for closest-to-the-pin honors on each hole. However, none even remotely compare to winning a green jacket, so here’s a note to par-3 contestants: save your best for the big course. You’ll need it.

You can watch this year’s par-3 contest at 3 p.m. on Wednesday on ESPN or on Masters.com.