Of all the traditions at the Masters, none is more endearing than the annual Par-3-Contest. This beloved event, held on Wednesday of Tournament week and now televised around the world, is above all a family affair. Wives and girlfriends, children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews-all happily serve as caddies. The sight of toddlers, outfitted in miniature Augusta National jumpsuits, toting a light bag, tending a flagstick more than twice their height brings smiles to everybody from near and far.
Part competition, part stress relief in the afternoon prior to the start of the Masters, the Par-3-Contest dates back more than half a century. The original idea came from Augusta National Chairman Clifford Roberts. He conceived of it as a potentially distinctive pre-Tournament attraction, but not everyone shared his vision. Roberts had to overcome resistance from within the ranks of the Club's members, some of whom derided the notion of a "Tom Thumb course." Little did they know what a cherished tradition the Par-3-Contest would one day become.
The inaugural exhibition was held in 1960 and won by Sam Snead (who would win again in 1974, one month shy of his 62nd birthday). The varied field consists of Tournament participants, non-competing past champions and Honorary Invitees. Together they wend their way around a short, nine-hole layout nestled in the northeast corner of the Augusta National grounds. The holes, ranging from 70 to 140 yards, play over DeSoto Springs Pond and Ike's Pond.
Famously, no winner of the Par 3 Contest has ever gone on to triumph in the Masters the same year. Not every Par-3-contestant posts a score, however: Many prefer to enjoy a leisurely stroll around the nine holes, occasionally having their caddies attempt a chip or a pitch or tap in a putt. Charlie and Sam Woods worked as caddies for their father Tiger during the Par 3 Contest in 2015. Tiger definitely enjoyed his time with his kids, and so did we. Hardly ever have I seen Tiger that relaxed!
The Par-3-contest has become one of the most popular days of Masters Week. Not surprising as it is also the last day that patrons can bring their cameras!
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