The Majors and the Masters

For you golf fans when does your golf season really begin? If you are sitting in your den with snow on the ground you may not think that your 2014 golf season has begun just yet. It is one thing to see the guys playing in Hawaii, California, Arizona or Florida. It is a different matter when they get into the heartland of America and the weather looks nice. Now you may be tempted to just forget watching and go play. In my mind this is when your season truly begins.

If you are like me it used to be mid March. It was starting to get warm and the Players Championship with its strong field, familiar course layout and over seeded, bright green grass gave me the real itch to get out there and play a few holes. With the Players Championship moving to May my spring now begins in April with the Masters – the first of golf’s four major championships.

First let’s review the majors …

Most of the PGA tour players measure their careers by how many major championships they win, not by how many times they win on the PGA Tour. You probably think that way too although you don’t even realize it. I will prove it to you. Take this test:

• How many tour wins does Tiger Woods have?
• How about Justin Leonard?
• Ernie Els?
• How about Sergio Garcia?

You probably know exactly how many majors these four players have won but I’ll bet you do not know how many PGA Tour wins each of these four guys have so far in their careers.

(The answers: Majors => 14, 1, 4, 0.​Tour wins => 79, 12, 19, 8)

This week is the youngest of the four major championships. The Masters began in 1934 as the Augusta National Invitational. It is always played at the Augusta National Golf Club. The club is probably the most recognized venue in major championship golf. This is even more amazing considering it is very private and most Americans will never get to play it. Nonetheless thanks to the magic of television we all know the layout of the Augusta National Golf Club.

Bobby Jones remains President in Perpetuity of Augusta National Golf Club. His presence is felt all around the club and throughout this tournament. The club was Bobby’s homage to St. Andrews. The Masters was his dream competition. Even with a limited field including six amateurs it is still considered a very, very prestigious major to win. Some players complete their careers with the Masters being the only major they win and, yet, they still feel their careers are complete.

The Masters is different than the other major championships in a number of ways. Here are a couple of the differences –

​a) the tournament is played at the exact same golf course every year,
​b) the field is by far the smallest of the four majors,
​c) six amateurs are exempted into the field, and,
​d) it is not run by one of the world’s golfing federations.

This last item is a bit unusual if you really think about it. A group of guys that officially do not represent any of the international golfing authorities host a small invitational tournament that the golfing world considers a major. Even today that is the power of Bobby Jones.

Finally if you are wondering how a player gets into the field at the Masters here you go …

• Masters Champion – Lifetime invitation
• US Open Champion – Five year invitation
• Open Champion – Five year invitation
• PGA Championship Winner – Five year invitation
• Players Championship Winner – Three year invitation
• US Amateur Champion and Runner Up
• US Amateur Public Links Champion
• US Mid Amateur Champion
• British Amateur Champion
• Asia-Pacific Amateur Champion
• Top 12 & ties from last year’s Masters
• Top 4 & ties from last year’s US Open
• Top 4 & ties from last year’s Open Championship
• Top 4 & ties from last year’s PGA Championship
• Any player who qualified for last season’s Tour Championship (Top 30 in FedEx Cup points)
• Top 50 players in the World Golf Ranking from the previous calendar year
• Top 50 players in the World Golf Ranking from the week just prior to the Masters
• Players deemed worthy of invitation by the Masters Committee, at its discretion. This is usually reserved for international players.


Tim Gamso
Salesmanship Club of Dallas