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Posted April 10, 2019 08:04 am
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2019 Masters Par-3 Contest set for Wednesday

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    The Par-3 Course was built in 1958, and the Par-3 Contest was first held in 1960. Two holes were added over Ike's Pond in the 1980s, with the original first two holes being turned into spectator seating. [FILE/THE AUGUSTA CHRONICLE]

Augusta National’s big course gives up the spotlight today for its shorter and younger sibling.

The Par-3 Course measures 1,060 yards and plays to a par of 27, and it will play host to the annual Par-3 Contest this afternoon.

PHOTOS: 2019 Masters Par-3 Contest

Alister MacKenzie proposed an “approach and putt” course, no more than 500 yards long, when he was building the course with Bobby Jones in the early 1930s. But the club couldn’t afford it at the time, and the idea was scrapped.

Nearly 30 years later, Augusta National co-founder Clifford Roberts resurrected the idea and enlisted George Cobb as the principal architect. Cobb, a Savannah, Ga., native credited with designing nearly 100 golf courses, is best known for his courses along the South Carolina coast.

The course was built in 1958, and the Par-3 Contest began in 1960.

Cobb’s original design called for the playing of the nine holes over DeSoto Springs Pond.

The short course was challenging, and the greens mirrored conditions found on the main course. In 1978, the Par-3 Course was converted to bentgrass greens. Augusta National would switch to bentgrass greens in 1981.

The club turned to Tom Fazio in the 1980s to add two holes over Ike’s Pond. Cobb’s original first two holes were turned into spectator seating.

Roberts wrote that support for the Par-3 Course was lacking. Some even called it a “Tom Thumb” course, he said.

It didn’t take long before it became a hit.

“It was popular as soon as it was built, and it remains popular today – both among older members, who sometimes play it as a demanding alternative to the big course, and among those who use it either as a warmup or as a place to squeeze in a few more holes while there’s just enough light to play,” David Owen wrote in his book "The Making of the Masters."

What is the Par-3 Contest?

The Par-3 Contest is held on the Wednesday before the Masters Tournament, and participation is optional. Players often invite their children, spouses or celebrities to be their caddies for a day.

Though most regular professional events hold pro-am tournaments, the Par-3 Contest is unique. It is open to tournament competitors, noncompeting past champions and honorary invitees.

The winner of the contest receives a crystal bowl, and those closest to the pin on each hole receive prizes.

Is there a Par-3 Jinx?

Success in the contest isn't an indicator of success on the big course: No one has won the Par-3 and the Masters in the same year, though several have come close.

Today's Par-3 Pairings and Tee Times

12:00 p.m.: Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, Rafa Cabrera-Bello

12:07 p.m.: Bubba Watson, Webb Simpson, Jason Day

12:14 p.m.: Tommy Fleetwood, Branden Grace, Justin Harding

12:21 p.m.: Alvaro Ortiz, Emiliano Grillo, Angel Cabrera

12:28 p.m.: Jose Maria Olazabal, Fuzzy Zoeller, Mike Weir

12:35 p.m.: Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle, Jovan Rebula

12:49 p.m.: Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson, Mark O'Meara

12:56 p.m.: Jon Rahm, Nick Faldo, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

1:03 p.m.: Trevor Immelman, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen

1:10 p.m.: Brandt Snedeker, Charles Howell III, Charley Hoffman

1:17 p.m.: Ray Floyd, Fred Couples, Haotong Li

1:24 p.m.: Larry Mize, Bernhard Langer, Martin Kaymer

1:38 p.m.: Bryson DeChambeau, Kevin Na, Stewart Cink

1:45 p.m.: Patrick Reed, Kevin O'Connell, J.B. Holmes

1:52 p.m.: Francesco Molinari, Tyrrell Hatton, Ian Poulter

1:59 p.m.: Craig Stadler, Ben Crenshaw, Tommy Aaron

2:06 p.m.: Satoshi Kodaira, Shugo Imahira, Takumi Kanaya

2:13 p.m.: Billy Horschel, Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker

2:27 p.m.: Keith Mitchell, Patton Kizzire, Kevin Tway

2:34 p.m.: Adam Long, Andrew Landry, Corey Conners

2:41 p.m.: Shane Lowry, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Keegan Bradley

2:48 p.m.: Kevin Kisner, Gary Woodland, Matt Kuchar

2:55 p.m.: Thorbjorn Olesen, Lucas Bjerregaard, Viktor Hovland

3:02 p.m.: Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Tom Watson