The par-3 contest at the Masters is a unique tradition in sports for a lot of reasons. Held annually the Wednesday before the first round, the event combines current competitors, past champions and honorary invitees by Augusta National. Competitors' wives and family members add to the mix, which has raised the par-3 contest's "cute factor" significantly.
Sam Snead won the first Masters par-3 contest in 1960, two years after the nine-hole course was completed in 1958. The course was designed by George Cobb with help from Augusta National GC co-founder Clifford Roberts and plays to a par of 27 at 1,060 yards. Tom Fazio designed two new holes in 1986 that would play over Ike's Pond. The holes replaced two of the originals, which became spectator areas for the par-3 contest.
The total number of holes-in-one made over the years at the Masters par-3 contest is widely disputed, though it seems to fall somewhere between 70 and 80. A tournament-record five were made in 2002, when Toshi Izawa made back-to-back aces on holes five and six.
In the past, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer have played the Par-3 Contest as a threesome, but Palmer hasn't played in a couple of years (Ben Crenshaw took his place last year). Here’s Palmer, Nicklaus and Player at the Par-3 Contest in 2013.
In recent years, players have had spouses or girlfriends caddie for them, which often makes for excellent photo opportunities. Keegan Bradley, ever the sap, had then-girlfriend Jillian Stacey (now fiancé) on the bag last year, and Tiger Woods had his two kids and Lindsey Vonn, his girlfriend at the time, caddie for him at the event. Rory McIlroy, who is skipping the event this year, had friend and One Direction star Niall Horan on his bag last year.
Despite all the fanfare, the most important fact about the Masters Par-3 Contest is that the champ has never gone on to win a green jacket in the same week. Because of this, most players do not post a score and often let their kids or caddies hit shots or putts for them. Kevin Streelman won the Par-3 Contest last year and went on to finish T12 in the Masters.
The Par-3 Contest winner receives a crystal bowl and prizes are awarded for closest-to-the-pin honors on each hole. However, none even remotely compare to winning a green jacket, so here's a note to par-3 contestants: save your best for the big course. You’ll need it.
You can watch this year's par-3 contest from 3-5 p.m. (EST) Wednesday on ESPN.