clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Who are the honorary starters at the 2023 Masters?

The tradition dates back to 1963, but there is a new face this year at Augusta National helping to start the tournament.

Constellation FURYK & FRIENDS - Round One Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

Each year, the Masters invites former champions to hit an honorary drive off the first tee to kick off the tradition unlike any other. The honorary starters tradition at The Masters began in 1963 with former golfers Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod, and continues into 2023 as Tom Watson, Jack Niclaus, and Gary Player tee off at Augusta on Thursday, April 6.

They will be the first threesome to tee off as this year’s honorary starters — the same group as last year. Watson won the Masters in 1977 and 1981, Nicklaus in 1963, 1965, 1966, 1972, 1975, and 1986 and Player in 1961, 1974, and 1978. Watson is 73 years old, Nicklaus is 83, and Player is 87.

The threesome will not play all the way through 18 holes on Thursday, as honorary starters used to do. Instead it is just a single tee shot that marks the start of the tournament. Other former honorary starters include Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead, and Lee Elder. Watson’s first year as an honorary starter was 2022, while Nicklaus has been participating in the tradition since 2010 and Player since 2012.