Masters 2017: Fifty years of the BBC at Augusta

A signpost with directions to various holes at the Augusta National
Masters 2017 on the BBC
Venue: Augusta National Dates: 6-9 April
Coverage: Watch highlights of the first two days before live and uninterrupted coverage of the weekend's action on BBC Two and up to four live streams available online.
Listen on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio 5 live sports extra. Read live text commentary, analysis and social media on the BBC Sport website and the sport app.
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Hugs with Arnie, starstruck by Jack and missing Seve.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the BBC first broadcasting the Masters from the Augusta National in Georgia and some familiar names have shared their memories of playing in, watching and commentating on one of the world's most iconic sporting events.

Peter Alliss played in the first Masters covered by the BBC in 1967, having also contested the previous year's tournament and although he was initially unimpressed as a player, he has grown fond of the place since becoming a commentator.

Arnie's hug - Peter Alliss, BBC TV commentator

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Arnold Palmer - The man who changed golf

Playing there wasn't a happy experience for me. I realised that you weren't really made to feel welcome back in the 1960s. That goes against everything they say today.

You had to have a local caddie. The locals didn't want to caddie as they felt you had little chance of doing well and hence they had little chance of getting a good tip. It was very overpowering. From my point of view, I was overawed by the whole thing.

But I have marvelled at the place since. It is fearless when it comes to innovation. And when you go out in front of the clubhouse where they sit under the big trees, you see the famous faces from days gone by. Some are missing, some new ones come, some never change.

Two years ago I was walking and the late Arnold Palmer was there. We were great friends since the 1950s. He gave me a big hug in front of hundreds of people, they had no idea who I was. It's just people. The people for me make it. There's just a general feeling that it's just different.

Interview over - Iain Carter, BBC Radio 5 live commentator

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1986 Masters: Jack Nicklaus wins 18th major aged 46

One thing an interviewer should never be is starstruck. The other crime is failing to listen to what the interviewee is telling you.

I was guilty on both counts during my first visit to Augusta in 1993. It was under the famous tree outside the clubhouse where I first interviewed my all-time golfing hero Jack Nicklaus.

Among a scrum of reporters I thrust my microphone under the great man's nose and he explained that he would likely miss that year's Open because of an ongoing hip problem.

Agog at being in this position I was determined not to dry up so instead of listening, my mind was on what I should ask him next. Sadly the question I chose was: "So will we see you at the Open in July?"

Naturally Nicklaus replied in the most clipped terms: "I just answered that."

End of interview, and very important lessons were learned via the greatest golfer of all time.

'We will miss you Seve' - Ken Brown, BBC television commentator

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Golf great Ballesteros dies at 54

The year 1957 was special for golf, not because of achievements in the sport but for the golfers who came into the world. Along with Sir Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer, Spaniard Seve Ballesteros made his appearance.

Sixty years on we remember Seve on 9 April which would have been his 60th birthday. Seve and Augusta were a match made in heaven, like strawberries and cream, leaving us with so many memories. His first green jacket in 1980 opened the doors for fellow Europeans to follow in his footsteps. And his second followed in 1983.

After retiring from playing he occasionally joined the BBC commentary team, bringing with him the same passion and enthusiasm that he had on the course.

On one of his visits to Augusta, I interviewed him for part of the BBC preview programme; he was staying in the house he had rented there for many previous Masters weeks. At the end of the interview his son surprised him with a birthday cake. He was obviously moved by the thoughtfulness.

We will all be thinking of him on Sunday as the final round takes place. I have no doubt he will be sharing some cake with Arnie and loving the golf. We miss you.

Sandy's bunker - Hazel Irvine, BBC TV presenter

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Masters 2014: Sandy Lyle wins Britain's first Green Jacket

There are plenty of memorable moments, not least watching Phil Mickelson threading his second shot between the trees off the pinestraw at the 13th on his way to his third Green Jacket in 2010. Wow, when that ball hit the green, I jumped so far out of my seat in the studio that I nearly landed in the azaleas bordering the set!

But one of the things that will always stay with me was when I first clapped eyes on Augusta National for real. It was a proper, 'pinch me' moment.

Off I strode and immediately sought out 'Sandy's bunker' at the 18th. That was where, in 1988, Sandy Lyle had driven his tee shot. He had needed a par at the last to force a play-off with Mark Calcavecchia.

I remember thinking back then in '88 that he'd blown it. But out came the famous seven iron, and Sandy would hoist the ball up and on to the green before sinking the putt for a birdie to become the first British player to win the Masters.

So years later, there I stood, looking into the impossibly white sand of that bunker and gazing up at the very large hill that lies in front of it up to the green. The contours of the course really don't translate properly on TV. So, standing there in person underscored to me what a fantastic shot it really was.

I had interviewed Sandy many times at other courses but to do so that year, in situ and with a bit of 'local knowledge' now in place, was a proper thrill.

Tiger and the tease - Rishi Persad, BBC TV interviewer

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Masters 2013: Tiger Woods stays in the hunt

The first year I worked on the Masters was 2013, the year that Tiger Woods' ball hit the pin on 15 and rolled back into the water and he dropped in the incorrect spot. Tiger has long been one of my sporting heroes and I was shaking with nerves in anticipation of having to interview him, for the first time, on the Saturday evening with controversy surrounding his status in the tournament.

In the meantime I had entered the draw, open to members of the media, to play Augusta on the Monday after the event finishes and was waiting to find out if I was one of the very lucky few to be pulled out of the hat.

Tiger walked into the interview room and I said to my director: "Tiger's all set to go." I was told to ask him to wait for a minute so that we could broadcast the interview live. Tiger was happy but the wait seemed like an eternity and the director could tell I was nervous and uncomfortable.

So he started counting me down untilwe went live... 50 seconds, 40 seconds... when we got to 30 seconds he said: "Oh by the way Rish, the draw for the media day is out and you're in, you're playing."

I'd forgotten how nervous I was about interviewing the great man and was now excited about playing the greatest golf course in the world. I began to wonder how I would get my hands on a set of clubs and shoes to play.

Meanwhile, the countdown to the interview continued "10 seconds Rish... six, five, by the way I was just kidding about golf on Monday, three, two, one and cue Rishi, live with Tiger".

Naturally I fumbled my first question, although that doesn't make the cut in the video above!

'Once-in-a-lifetime meetings' - major winner Shaun Micheel, BBC Radio 5 live summariser

Jack Nicklaus (left) and Shaun Micheel
Shaun Micheel (right) had won the final major of 2003, the PGA Championship before teeing it up with Nicklaus at Augusta

My first, official, practice round in 2004 was with Jack Nicklaus. I'd known the Nicklaus family for a number of years but I was incredibly honoured for that invitation. Jack and I met on the practice ground and shared a few laughs before heading to the first tee. I recall the unrelenting enthusiasm from his fans and they even shared some excitement in meeting me.

I knew that I wasn't the star that day but everyone made me feel like Jack's equal. I knew better. The day was, mostly, like any other as both of us charted the course preparing like tour pros do.

Jack gave me advice and talked a lot about his last win in 1986. As we approached the green on 17, where the famous "yessir" call came, he told me that he hit the same putt in 1987 and it broke, surprisingly, a different way.

Upon completing the round we took pictures with my newly-born son, Dade, shook hands and said our goodbyes. To me, that was a once-in-a-lifetime moment. I'll be forever grateful for that April day at my first Masters.

'Pinch yourself' Augusta - Jay Townsend, BBC Radio 5 live summariser

Rory McIlroy plays out of the azaleas in 2014
The golfers do not always appreciate the azaleas as much as the watching patrons

The hidden secrets of Augusta National are many and you only realise the significance once you step foot on the grounds.

My first trip to the Masters was as a guest of friend and former champion Craig Stadler in 1995. Most, if not all avid golfers, grow up watching the Masters on television, and you think you know it from the years of watching the excitement. I can tell you that you cannot begin to imagine what it is like to see it in person.

The hills are larger and steeper than you thought, the colour of the flowers, azaleas, and dogwoods are more intense than you remember from the broadcasts, the green of the grass is like nothing you have ever seen before.

And the amazing thing is, I feel these same emotions every single year when I walk out to see the course on Wednesday morning of Masters week. It is a "pinch yourself" moment that you are so lucky to be there.

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