History of the British Masters

The History of British Masters Golf

Relaunched in 2015, the British Masters has re-established itself as one of the most prestigious tournaments on the European Tour.

This year, the event is in England at the historic Walton Heath golf club in Surrey. The former Ryder Cup venue becomes the 28th course to stage the British Masters since the competition began in 1946.

In its unique history, the British Masters has led a nomadic existence, visiting the finest golf courses in the British Isles, and can boast a string of legendary golfers among its champions. The British Masters made history as the location of the first televised hole-in-one and was one of the world’s most lucrative golf tournaments during its 1980s heyday.

Early Days of the British Masters

Founded in 1946 as the Dunlop Masters, the event carried its original sponsor’s name until 1982. The British Masters began life as the Dunlop-Metropolitan Tournament, an invitation event held in south-east England which launched in 1934.

Birmingham-based rubber goods maker, Dunlop, had begun producing golf balls in 1909. By the 1930s, the company manufactured a wide range of balls which included the iconic “Sixty-Five”, launched to mark Henry Cotton’s historic round of 65 at the 1934 British Open.

The original Dunlop-Metropolitan competition was held towards the end of the year, like today’s version of the event. It was informally known as the “Championship of Champions” and the competition modelled itself as the British equivalent to the US Masters which was founded in the same year. The original tournament was cancelled in 1939 with the outbreak of the second world war.

Following the end of the war, the inaugural British Masters was held at Stoneham Golf Club in Southampton. Four-time Open champion Bobby Locke shared the spoils in a tie with Scotland’s Jimmy Adams. Locke would win the title again in 1954 and join 12 other men to have lifted the trophy twice, including Seve Ballesteros, Greg Norman and Ian Woosnam.

British Masters - From Boom To Bust And Back

The venue for the British Masters tended to change from year to year and the competition was a regular visitor to the likes of Sunningdale, Wentworth and St Andrews. By the 1970s and 1980s, the British Masters had become one of the most prestigious events in the golfing calendar and boasted a prize fund to suit. In the mid-80s, the cash reward was the third highest in the world.

After Dunlop ceased sponsoring the event in 1982, various backers lent their name to the British Masters before the owners of the Belfry took over in 2006. Lending the competition their prestigious venue for three editions, the deal with the Quinn Group ended in 2008. Fresh funding attempts failed, and the British Masters was cancelled in 2009.

The event did not return until 2015 and has since been “hosted” by well-known professionals, including Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter. Justin Rose, winner of the 2002 title, is the host for the 2018 Masters. The Englishman, who hit number one in the world rankings this year, has been a regular at Walton Heath during his career.

British Masters Winners and Legends

Golfers representing 15 different countries have won the British Masters. That number includes the 2017 winner Paul Dunne, who became the sixth Irishman to win the event. Dunne hit a staggering nine-under-par final round of 61 to beat Rory McIlroy by three strokes at Close House in Northumberland.

For those wanting to bet on golf during the British Masters, UK players are certainly worth a look if history is anything to go by.

An Englishman has won the title on 22 occasions, golfers from Scotland have claimed victory eight times and a Welshman has lifted the trophy on five occasions.

The list of winners of the British Masters reads like a who’s who of golfing greats. Bernard Gallacher and Greg Norman have been champions in consecutive years and Nick Faldo made history in 1989 with a then-record equalling score of 267: 21 under par.

The British Masters and That Hole-In-One

The British Masters entered golfing folklore when the first televised hole-in-one was hit by Tony Jacklin in 1967. Back then, because of the complexities of outdoor broadcasting, only the final few holes of competitions tended to be broadcast.

Jacklin’s ace came on the 16th at Royal St George’s and was watched by millions in black-and-white. Hitting a sweet seven-iron from the tee, the ball took a single bounce on the par-three green before sinking into the hole. A stunned Jacklin shrugged his shoulders and shared a joke with playing partner Christy O’Connor Jr as history was made.

History of the 2018 British Masters Course

This year’s Masters venue, Walton Heath, has enjoyed an illustrious history since opening in 1903. The venue’s Old Course is regularly ranked as one of the world’s top 100 courses and has been the venue for European qualifying for the US Open since 2005.

This is the first major Tour event to have been held at Walton Health since 1991. The venue previously hosted the European Open on five occasions. The golf club has a long association with British royalty and politicians and four former UK Prime Ministers have been members: David Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, Bonar Law and Arthur Balfour.

The Old Course was designed by Herbert Fowler. The former county cricketer is responsible for many of Britain’s fine old courses. Walton Heath was Fowler’s first design. He was handed the opportunity by his brother-in-law, the financier behind the construction, and the course opened to great acclaim and is considered his finest work.

Bet UK will be covering the 2018 British Masters, including a Walton Heath course overview, host profile and more. Get the latest British Masters betting odds from Bet UK's online betting, as well as the latest golf betting odds on events throughout the year.

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