How did the Masters Tournament get its name, and what was its original name?
CMC Masters

How did the Masters Tournament get its name, and what was its original name?

A photo of a pin flag at the Masters Tournament

The Masters Tournament is the most famous golf tournament in the world -- and it is, by far, the most watched golf tournament. However, the Masters Tournament wasn't always called that. The Masters had a different name.

What was the original name for the Masters?

The Masters Tournament was originally referred to as the Augusta National Invitation Tournament. That wasn't because the Masters name hadn't been concocted yet.

Augusta National co-founders Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts had different views about what their invitational tournament should be called. Roberts wanted to call it the Masters Tournament from the very start, and that was because he wanted the name to reflect that the players competing in the event were masterful golfers and would be taking on the most brilliant new course in the world.

Jones, who founded Augusta National Golf Club after retiring from competitive golf following winning the Grand Slam in 1930, saw things differently. He thought the Masters name was presumptuous and wouldn't reflect well on the tournament or the club. He wanted the tournament to be called the Augusta National Invitation Tournament. Roberts relented initially.

From 1934-1938, the tournament was called the Augusta National Invitation Touranment. The tournament was well received, with Horton Smith winning two of the first three playings. Gene Sarazen put the tournament on the map in 1935 by winning in a 36-hole playoff over Craig Wood after making an albatross on the par-5 15th in the final round, known as the "shot heard around the world."

However, reporting media largely referred to the event as the Masters, as Roberts wanted.

In time for the 1939 event, Jones relented to Roberts and allowed the tournament to be called the Masters Tournament. Since then, the tournament has only continued to grow in stature and significance, particularly as the television era popularized the tournament with the likes of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus defining its history. Still the only major played on the same course each year, the Masters Tournament, colloquially just called the Masters, is the most-watched golf tournament every year.

About the author

Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is currently a +2.6 USGA handicap, and he has covered dozens of major championships and professional golf tournaments. He likes writing about golf and making it more accessible by answering the complex questions fans have about the pro game or who want to understand how to play golf better.

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