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'Chronicle' strives to master story

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The Augusta Chronicle's philosophy on covering the Masters Tournament is much like Augusta National Golf Club's desire with its event held each spring.

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Gary Player kneels before stepping onto the 18th green for the final time in competition at the 2009 Masters tournament.  File
File
Gary Player kneels before stepping onto the 18th green for the final time in competition at the 2009 Masters tournament.

Make it each year.

The Masters always has taken center stage in the pages of The Chronicle and, like the event held in Augusta annually, coverage in the newspaper has expanded through the years.

In the early years of the tournament, the exploits of Bobby Jones and his fellow golfers competed with various world and national events for space on the front page. A banner headline from the previous day's action at the Masters would dominate 1A, but photos (black and white, of course) were few and far between. Narrow columns of type, often arranged in a confusing manner, would recap the tournament and jump inside to one or two sports pages.

Now, a separate "Masters wrap" ranging in size from eight to 20 pages contains all of the paper's stories on the Masters -- and nothing else. The special section wraps around the regular paper, offering a convenient way for readers to follow the golfers and Masters-related events around Augusta.

Those who write about the Masters for The Chronicle also have changed. In the beginning, the bylines of celebrated national writers such as O.B. Keeler and Alan Gould were prominently displayed, while the hometown scribes took a back seat. Keeler was the golf writer for The Atlanta Journal and famous for covering the career of Jones. Gould was the top man for The Associated Press.

Now, The Chronicle employs a team of nearly 20 editors, writers and photographers who are at the course each day. They not only produce the content for the next day's print edition, but they also contribute to the newspaper's Masters Web site, augusta.com. Scores from every Masters, photo galleries and an extensive archive of stories about the tournament are just a few of the site's highlights.

The crown jewel of The Chronicle's Masters coverage is the special preview section. It is published the Sunday before the start of the tournament, and contains features on the most recent Masters, profiles of top contenders and plenty of historical data.

The Augusta Chronicle and Augusta Herald produced their first Masters edition in 1955. That first preview section was 36 pages; the 2010 version was four sections with a total of 88 pages.

The defending champion traditionally is featured on the cover, but that's not always the case. Scenic shots depicting tournament patrons enjoying the action were popular in the early years, and from time to time other golfers or multiple golfers took the spotlight. The golf course itself has also been the subject of the main cover.

One staple of The Chronicle's coverage of the Masters hasn't changed in the past 40 years: an annual trip to Florida to interview golfers and gather material for the preview section and the wraps. Members of the sports staff and a photographer usually hit the road in early March and head south for the Florida Swing of the PGA Tour.

In recent years, more elaborate trips have been required for interviews with the defending champion. Those included not only visits to Texas and California, but also to Spain and Argentina.

While much has changed through the years, the Masters remains a plum assignment for members of the media. In his book The Story of the Augusta National Golf Club , tournament and club co-founder Clifford Roberts credited Jones and his relationship with the writers for favorable coverage.

"The Masters Tournament has been favored with unusually good relationships with all segments of the news fraternity," Roberts wrote in 1976. "This was true at the beginning, and I am confident that it exists today."

ONLINE EXTRA

Enjoy a collection of Chronicle pages covering the Masters Tournament at augusta.com.


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