If you’re a golf fan watching the Masters, you’ve probably noticed on the first tee box at Augusta National that there’s a sign which shows the players about to tee off in each group. And next to those names is a number. What does that number mean?
The numbers next to player names on the first tee at Augusta National are their caddie numbers. The caddie numbers are assigned to players based on the order in which they officially registered for the tournament — other than the defending champion, whose caddie gets No. 1 by default.
Augusta National Golf Club thinks the caddie numbers are important to helping patrons watch the action on the course. A patron can easily identify a player with the caddie number because the club prints the caddie bib numbers on the pairings sheet. So, if a patron can see no discernible details about a player other than their caddie number, they can look at the tee times and pairings and figure out who they’re watching.
It’s a smart feature, though these days most golf tournaments now simply print a label with the player’s name on them for the caddies to wear. However, in Augusta National tradition, the Masters has their caddies — professional or local — look as the club caddies look when working for members. That means they’re not printing names on the Masters caddie jumpsuits anytime soon.
The only time those numbers don’t reference the caddie numbers are with the honorary starters, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player, hitting ceremonial tee shots to start the Masters Tournament. The numbers next to their names are actually their ages when they hit the tee shots off the first tee. In 2020, that mean Jack Nicklaus is 80, and Gary Player is 85.