3/25/1934: Horton Smith wins the inaugural Masters at Augusta National

Horton Smith

Horton Smith wins inaugural Masters at Augusta

On March 25, 1934, Horton Smith won the inaugural Masters Tournament held in Augusta, Georgia. Smith, shot a 284 during the four day tournament that covered 36 holes, to gain a one stroke victory over Craig Wood to win the inaugural Masters at Augusta National Golf Club.

Even though Smith took home the top prize, Bobby Jones was in large part the center of attention. Jones had come out of retirement to play in this tournament. At that point in his life he was already a legend in the world of golf. He had won 13 Major Championships before retiring in 1930. Following his retirement, Jones began to look for ground around his hometown of Atlanta to build a course where he could spend the latter years of his life. This is how Augusta National was born. The 345 acres where the course would come to be was purchased for $70,000 in 1931 by Jones and his partner Clifford Roberts. By today’s standards that would be more the $1 million.

Jones did not fare well in the tournament. He finished 13th with a 294. With that said, his brainchild had come to be and it has developed into one of the premier courses in the World of Golf. Jones played in every Masters tournament until 1948, although, he only played as a competitor in the inaugural event. Health issues forced him off the golf course, however, what he did in his glory days, along with bringing Augusta to the forefront also led him to the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Bobby Jones (R) plays his tee shot on the first hole during the 1934 Masters

Horton Smith…The first two time winner

He turned pro in 1926 when he was an 18-year-old kid and joined a golf club out of Chicago. In 1929, the PGA tour was born, and Smith with a variety of others were the pioneers who helped lay the groundwork for what it is today. Smith won eight of the first twenty-two events that were held in that first year of the tour. It was by far his most dominant year of play in his career, however, the first ever win at the Masters tournament earned him a spot in sports history that can not be surpassed by no other.

While Jones stole some of the spotlight from Smith in 1934, the same could not be said two years later when he took home the top prize at the Masters once again. He was not just the first time winner of the Masters, he was the first two-time winner also. Once again he found victory by holding onto a one stroke lead. In both of Smith’s wins at Augusta the top prize was $1,500, today that would be right around $25,000 today. The top prize today is more than $1 million.

No green jackets awarded until 1949

When Sam Snead won the Masters in 1949, Augusta National retroactively awarded green jackets to each former winner. Among them were several legends of the game, including Byron Nelson and Jimmy Demaret (each of whom won twice), Ralph Guldahl, Craig Wood, Henry Picard and Gene Sarazen. The jacket awarded to Horton Smith, who won the inaugural Augusta National Invitational in 1934, sold for $682,229 in 2013 by the appropriately named Green Jacket Auctions.

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