In 1955, The Augusta Chronicle and Augusta Herald produced the first Masters Edition. The special 36-page insert was filled with photos and articles about the 21-year-old golf tournament played at the Augusta National Golf Club. It included reviews of past tournaments, a hole-by-hole analysis of the course and a map of new parking areas. A story headlined, "Keep eye on 'em," said the "pressure-packed event could fall into the hands of a young sprout this year," and predicted "comers" like 24-year-old Arnold Palmer could make a serious assault on the Masters title.
Though 43 years have passed, tournament history, player profiles and information about Augusta National have remained key parts of the newspaper's annual guide to the Masters. Readers will find those things and more in this year's 64-page edition.
On the cover
An illustration or photo of the defending champion has been on the cover of 30 of the 44 Masters Editions. The front of the 1978 edition honored the late Clifford Roberts, co-founder of Augusta National, who died Sept. 29, 1977, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Defending champion Tom Watson appeared on the front of the second part of that year's edition.
Another exception to the defending-champion rule was made in 1969, when the cover featured a drawing of the dejected Roberto de Vicenzo, whose signing of an incorrect scorecard cost him a playoff for the 1968 title.
Scenic shots of huge galleries watching the tournament beneath a canopy of Georgia pines were used on the 1955, '56, '57 and '59 covers. In 1960, the newspaper's 175th anniversary, the traditional golf course photo is surrounded by pictures showing some of the Augusta area's other sports and recreation activities: boating, water skiing, hunting, polo and bowling. It is the only special section cover depicting something other than golf.
The '58 cover had photos of the 14 men who had won the first 21 Masters titles.With six Masters championships to his credit, Jack Nicklaus has been on the cover of the most Masters Editions. Nick Faldo is next with three covers ('90, '91 and '97). Two-time cover holders include Gary Player ('62 and '75), Seve Ballesteros ('81 and '84) Bernhard Langer ('86 and '94) and Ben Crenshaw ('85 and '96).
Four-time Masters champion Arnold Palmer has only been the focus of one cover, the 1963 Masters Edition. He shared the cover with Mr. Nicklaus in 1979 when the lead article focused on a comparison of the two players' Masters performances. The defending champion has held the cover for the last 19 years.
The Masters Editions have always devoted much attention to tournament history. Editors of 1965's 10th edition said their "desire was to produce a continuing history of the Masters, accenting the golfers who have conquered the Augusta National."They wrote, "As the years pass the story becomes richer, feeding upon the heritage of golf and the Masters of the game."
Many stories have been told again and again. Topics visited repeatedly include the founding of Augusta National and the Masters Tournament, the career of Bobby Jones, the influence of Clifford Roberts and the miraculous double eagle Gene Sarazan scored on No. 15 in 1935.
Editors of the 1957 Masters Edition felt compelled to defend such redundancy. "Those who have seen earlier Masters Editions will note some repetition, true; but all information that is repeated is information that the editors feel is vital to the understanding of both the course and the tournament," wrote Managing Editor John C. Harper.
To add some variety, the fifth Masters Edition in 1959 featured articles by "top men of the newspaper profession." Sports writers from The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Detroit News and other newspapers shared their thoughts on Augusta National and their memories of tournaments. The practice of including contributions from other sports writers was rediscovered in 1994, when noted golf writers Dan Jenkins, Peter Dobereiner and Rick Reilly penned essays for a page titled "a stroll down Magnolia Lane." Contributing writers have been featured in several editions since then.
Finding a theme
In the '60s, the Masters Editions began adopting themes that were carried out through the four sections of each edition. The 1965 theme was, What makes the Masters great? It phrased the answer in show business terminolgy: the cast (the players), the setting (Augusta National), the producers (Mr. Jones and Mr. Roberts) and the action. In 1967, the theme was "Recipe for a Tournament." The ingredients were: a cup of competition, a large measure of tradition, a pinch of international flavor (foreign players) and a dash of seasoning (veteran writers covering the tournament).
The 1977 Masters Edition highlighted the four main parts of the golf game: iron shots, wood shots, trouble shots and putting. Each was depicted in an illustration by editorial cartoonist Clyde Wells. Mr. Wells' pen-and-ink drawings of the course and portraits of golfers were a distinguishing characteristic of Masters Editions from 1972 to 1986.
The 1983 cover combined his portrait of defending champion Craig Stadler and his color-enhanced rendering of the 10th hole. Drawings of Nos. 18, 4 and 1, the other most difficult holes for players in the 1982 Masters, rounded out the rest of the section fronts.
"I considered that some of the best work I did for The Chronicle," Mr. Wells said. "I would liked to have done more covers than I did."
For the 50th anniversary of the tournament in 1986, Mr. Wells' drawings of all 31 Masters champions were used on the front of the fourth section of the edition.
About the players
In addition to articles about the tournament and its history, the first Masters Edition included a few stories about tournament favorites: Jackie Burke, Carey Middlecoff, Billy Joe Patton, and "Jaunty" Jimmy Demaret.
In later years, articles focusing on players in the Masters field were given more space and became more numerous and detailed.
"We tried to have something on every player in the tournament. Either a story just about him or something about him in a wrap-up of new players or some other article," said Al Ludwick, former sports editor for The Herald, who became executive sports editor for that newspaper and The Chronicle when they merged sports staffs in 1968. (The Herald ended publication in 1993.) Mr. Ludwick coordinated the Masters Editions from 1965 to '89.
Mr. Ludwick and other reporters did interviews with players by telephone at first but later started attending tournaments in Florida that preceded the Masters.
"It gave you a chance to meet the players, especially the ones who had never been here," Mr. Ludwick said. "And if you want to get something other than the routine stuff, nothing beats face-to-face."
Chronicle reporters continue to make such pre-Masters trips. And today's player profiles contain not just the players' Masters finishes, but also information about their tour victories, career earnings and families.
Focus on the course
Individual golf holes have garnered almost as much attention as the players. In 1973, the section fronts featured paintings of Nos. 5 and 7, the holes that played the toughest for the leading contenders in the 1972 Masters. The 1974 edition was devoted to the water holes at Augusta, Nos. 11, 12, 13, 15 and 16. The challenge of the back nine was a theme visited again in 1990 and '91. And in 1994, an article focused on No. 12 -- a "beauty and beast" of a hole that ruins Masters champions and destroys Masters contenders.Naturally, any changes in the legendary course were also worthy of note. The 1959 edition introduced the "Latest Augusta National feature," the nine-hole Par-3 course.
"Except as an added practice facility, it has no connection with the Masters Tournament," tournament chairman Mr. Roberts was quoted as saying. "But we think it will be of some interest to our tournament patrons and golfers generally."
An article and photo in the 1967 edition focused on the addition of an "awesome new fairway bunker" on 18, and how golfers planned to play it. Reconstruction of the 13th green to correct "poor porosity" was explained with photgraphs and graphics in the 1984 edition. And the rebirth of Amen Corner, which was ravaged by a flooded Rae's Creek in 1990, was pictured in 1991.
Dissecting the game
In the '90s, Masters Editions have taken an increasingly analytical and scientific look at golf and Augusta National. Aspects of the course and the game are examined in nearly microscopic detail.A full-page graphic in the 1991 edition defined golf terms and examined the anatomy of a hole, the parts of a golf club and the evolution of the golf ball. A 1995 full-page illustration went below the surface of the National to show what goes into the creation and maintenance of the golf course's legendary greens. A page in this year's section examines the physics involved in golf.
History still plays a major role, however. Memorable events are revisited as key anniversaries occur. And every Masters Edition contains tournament trivia, course records and a list of Masters winners since the tournament began in 1934.
"It's always a challenge to come up with new ideas and new ways to preview the tournament," said John Fish, assistant general manager of The Chronicle, who has coordinated the Masters Edition since 1990. "But like all the editors and writers before us, we want to make each Masters Edition better than the one before.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for our newspaper to cover the world's greatest golf tournament, and our goal every year is to give it the world's greatest coverage."
Geoff Russell, executive editor of Golf World magazine, says The Chronicle's coverage of the Masters is superior to any local newspaper's coverage of a golf event.
"We send staff and writers to 70 or 80 tournaments a year, so we see the local newspapers all over the world. The job The Augusta Chronicle does covering the Masters is by far the best job of covering a golf tournament that any newspaper does. It's not even close."
"When we go to the Masters every year we hope our coverage is just as good as what you guys do."