The Ultimate Masters Sourcebook


To prepare for the Masters, I’ve been reading a 460-page book coveted by golf writers attending Augusta but not circulating among the public. It’s the 2024 Masters Tournament Media Guide. I’m reading the digital version, which I downloaded back in February. I’ll receive the hard copy after I arrive at the Press Building.

A product of the Masters and the Elias Sports Bureau, the media guide is part of my arsenal of tools to cover the tournament. Inside, it contains a fantastic wealth of information, history, and statistics. I often get lost in it, losing all track of time. At least that’s the excuse I employed last week when I was late for my golf simulator appointment.

With beautiful photographs and timeless quotes from Masters notables, the media guide gets my juices flowing about the tournament.

I’d like to share some of my highlights and personal favorites after several reviews.

Two quotes set the tone:

“Like the golf course itself, change at Augusta National takes the shape of a steady and quiet evolution, but the overall effect is one of gracious permanence that always makes coming here feel a little like coming home.”

— Arnold Palmer, four-time Masters champion

“Any time our studies indicate that the present policies can be improved, we will be quick to act. And, please believe me when I say letters such as the one you wrote are very helpful. Many of the changes adopted in the past were suggested by our loyal and keenly interested patrons.”

— Clifford Roberts, responding to a patron’s letter

Palmer sums up the magic of both Augusta National and the Masters. It’s a timeless duo yet subject to change. And Roberts, the ultimate details man, created the mantra of constant improvement and never standing pat on one’s achievements.

Statistics and tournament records always grab one’s attention.

Paul Runyan

Paul Runyan

Regarding the Par-3 Contest:

Jimmy Walker holds the record score of an eight-under-par 19.

But my personal favorite is knowing that the oldest starter in the Par 3 Contest was Paul Runyan in 2000, at 91 years and 267 days!

(Paul Runyan won the PGA twice, including beating Sam Snead in the match play finals 8 & 7 in 1938. Nicknamed “Little Poison,” he was regularly outdriven in the finals by Snead by 75 yards. Former major champions are often invited to compete in the Par-3 Contest.

Contrasting nines for the tournament:

In 1963 Jacky Cupit (always loved that name) shot a two-under 34 on the front nine and followed up with a 12-over-par 48 on the back, a 14-shot difference.

Most contrasting starts:

In 1936, Craig Wood started with a disastrous 88 but came back with a 67! In 1990, Mike Donald (born in Grand Rapids, Mich.) opened with a 7-under par 64, the day’s low round, and then carded an 82 the next day. But Donald made the cut and earned $3900 for finishing 47th and a crystal vase (for the low round).

Charles Coe

Charles Coe

Amateur records:

Low 18: Ken Venturi’s 66 (32-34) in the first round of 1956. He was 24 at the time.

Low 72 holes: 281 (72-71-69-69) by Charles Coe, 1961. Coe, a lifelong amateur like Bobby Jones, also has the record for most cuts made as an amateur with eight and most times as the low amateur with six.

First year player with the low 36-hole finish:

Michigan’s Dan Pohl, with his 67-67 finish in 1982, propelled him to a playoff with eventual winner Craig Stadler. Stadler, incidentally, has the record for the highest start by a champion, with 75.

Most consecutive pars one round:

Eighteen pars. Talk about a clean card! It’s a never-to-be-broken record held by eight players, including Gene Littler twice.

All rounds under 70:

Cameron Smith (67-68-69-69) in 2020 when he finished T-2 to Dustin Johnson. Yep, Smith’s the only one in the 60s all four days.

Most birdies, career:

No surprise, Jack Nicklaus with a total of 506.

Most birdies, one round:

It’s someone who has re-emerged after a long hiatus and who was recently seen on the LIV tour: Anthony Kim had 11 birdies in the second round of 2009 when he shot 65. I recall staring at the Masters scoreboards and marveling at Kim’s round.

Tianlang Guan

Tianlang Guan

Youngest to make the cut:

The youngest to make the cut at 14 years and 169 days was China’s Tianlang Guan in 2013. It’s still absolutely amazing.

The oldest to make the cut:

At 63 years, 78 days, Bernhard Langer did it in 2020. In 2016, Langer was 58 and teed off next to last in the final round, only one of four players under par. Alas, he shot 79 on Sunday and finished T-24. Earlier this year, Langer injured himself playing pickleball and will not compete next week

The oldest amateur with a 72-hole finish:

Charles (Chick) Evans Jr. at 62 in 195

Chick Harbert

Chick Harbert

Most starts by a Michigan player:

Chick Harbert leads the way with 21 starts, with a best of 3rd in 1948. In ’48, Harbert played in the final group on Sunday, two shots behind eventual winner Claud Harmon, father of acclaimed teacher Butch Harmon….Next are Dave Hill with 12 starts and Kocsis with 11.

And for those making long-range plans:

The 2029 Masters takes place on April 2-9.



Images courtesy of the Masters, SoCal Golf Hall of Fame, John Coe, South China Morning Post, Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.

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