To begin building your appetite for this week’s Masters, here’s an A to Z guide that I update every year for the tournament, held at Augusta National Golf Club:
A: Amen Corner. The most famous three-hole stretch in the world is made up of holes No. 11, 12 and 13. Herbert Warren Wind coined the phrase in a 1958 issue of Sports Illustrated.
B: Billy Payne. Augusta National’s chairman is the leader and spokesman for the club, as well as for the tournament. A former football player at the University of Georgia, Payne gained worldwide fame after helping Atlanta secure the 1996 Summer Olympics. He is Augusta National’s sixth chairman.
C: Crystal. Awards are given to those who accomplish certain feats during the tournament. The player with the day’s low score receives a crystal vase, a hole-in-one gets a large candle holders, an eagle gets a pair of crystal goblets, and a double eagle, perhaps the most rare feat in golf, gets a large crystal gift. There have been three in Masters history, compared with 19 holes-in-one.
D: Dinner. The winner gets to plan the “Champions Dinner, ” an event held the Tuesday before the tournament. It started in 1952. Phil Mickelson will create this year’s menu. Phil Mickleson said he hopes to honor past winner Seve Ballesteros with this year’s menu.
E: Eisenhower. America’s 34th president loved golf and loved Augusta National. Perhaps the only thing he didn’t love was a pine tree on the 17th hole. The tree is approximately 210 yards from the tee, is 65 feet high and between 100 and 125 years old. Eisenhower hit the tree so often with his tee shots he asked that it be cut down. His request was refused by chairman Clifford Roberts.
F: Flora. The most famous plant or tree on the course is “the big oak tree, ” which was planted in the ’50s . . . the 1850s. It’s at the clubhouse. Walking the course you will also see wisteria vine, several varieties of pine trees, dogwoods and shrubs. Oh, and azaleas, the most famous flowering shrub on the course. There are more than 30 varieties grown on the grounds.
G: Green jacket. The tradition started in 1937. The jackets were bought from the Brooks Uniform Co. in New York. The jacket was awarded to the winner for the first time in 1949. Sam Snead was the recipient. For the clothes hound, it’s a single vent with brass buttons.
H: Holly. Each hole at Augusta National has a name. The last hole, 18, is called Holly. It’s a 465-yard par 4 with a slight dogleg right. It will likely decide who wins. The tee shot looks much tougher in person than it appears on TV.
I: International. There are 53 international players currently in this year’s field.
J: Bobby Jones. Co-founder of Augusta National, with Clifford Roberts. After he retired from golf, Jones set out to fulfill his dream of building a golf club. After finding suitable land (see O), he hired Dr. Alistair Mackenzie of Scotland to design the course.
K: Kitchen. Featured in a famous quote about Augusta National’s conservative membership practices, from the “Merry Mex” Lee Trevino: “If I wasn’t a golfer, the only way I could get in here is through the kitchen.”
L: Lifetime exemption. Masters champions receive a lifetime exemption to play in the tournament. There are 16 past champions invited to compete this year.
M: Magnolias. Sixty-one line the entrance road into Augusta National. Please don’t try to drive up the lane, though. Or Mickelson, Phil, your defending tournament champion.
N: Nicklaus. Jack Nicklaus’ six wins are the most in Masters history. He put on the green jacket in 1963, ‘65, ‘66, ‘72, ‘75 and ‘86.
O: Orchard. Before Augusta National was known as the most famous golf course in the world, it was a 365-acre orchard named Fruitland Nurseries. The land was purchased for $70,000. Construction began in 1931, and parts of the course opened in December 1932.
P: Patrons. Those who attend the event are referred to as patrons, not fans.
Q: DQ’d. Roberto DiVicenzo finished in second in 1968 when he signed an incorrect scorecard. Had he not done so, he would have forced a playoff. He later famously said, “What a stupid I am.”
R: Rae’s Creek. The narrow creek, which winds through Nos. 11, 12 and 13, is named after John Rae, whose house on the Savannah River kept people safe during Indian attacks in the 1700s.
S: Horton Smith. Smith won the first Masters, then known as the Augusta National Invitation Tournament, in 1934. He shot a 284 and won $1,500.
T: Tiger Woods. Woods is trying to tie Nicklaus’ record for majors won (18). He’s at 14, but hasn’t won one of the big ones since 2008. Since then he’s had knee surgery, been divorced after allegations of infidelities and has struggled to find his dominating form.
U: Unknown winners. If you’ve heard of these gentlemen, you shouldn’t be reading this: Doug Ford (1957), Herman Keiser (1946) or Eldrick . . . never mind.
V: Verses. There is a theme song for the Masters, “Augusta,” and it has three verses. It was written by Dave Loggins and introduced in 1981. A sample: “Augusta . . . your dogwoods and pines/They play on my mind like a song/Augusta . . . it’s you that I love/And it’s you that I’ll miss when I’m gone.”
W: Winners. The youngest (Tiger Woods, 21 years, 3 months, 14 days in 1997) to the oldest (Jack Nicklaus, 46 years, 2 months, 23 days, 1986).
X: Extra holes. The tournament has gone to a playoff 14 times, most recently in 2009 Angel Cabrera defeated Kenny Perry and Chad Campbell.
Y: Yellow. The Masters symbol — the United States in yellow with a golf hole where Augusta would be on the map — is one of the most recognizable in sports.
Z: Zero. Most people’s chances of playing in the Masters.