Activities Sports & Athletics Which Golfers Have Served as Honorary Starters at The Masters? Share PINTEREST Email Print Gene Sarazen is flanked by Byron Nelson (left) and Sam Snead (right) in 1999, the final time the three of them were honorary starters together at The Masters. Stephen Munday/Getty Images Sports & Athletics Golf Golf Tournaments Basics History Gear Golf Courses Famous Golfers Baseball Basketball Bicycling Billiards Bodybuilding Bowling Boxing Car Racing Cheerleading Cricket Extreme Sports Football Gymnastics Ice Hockey Martial Arts Professional Wrestling Skateboarding Skating Paintball Soccer Swimming & Diving Table Tennis Tennis Track & Field Volleyball Other Activities Learn More By Brent Kelley Brent Kelley is an award-winning sports journalist and golf expert with over 30 years in print and online journalism. our editorial process Brent Kelley Updated July 16, 2019 Over the years at Augusta National, it has usually been the role of veteran golfers to hit a ceremonial opening drive at The Masters, signifying the start of another tournament. These golfers have become known as the "honorary starters" of The Masters, and serving in that role is a considered a huge honor. So which golfers have served in that role? Below is the list of every golfer who has been a Masters honorary starter (sometimes called a "ceremonial starter"), and the years they served in the role. That part of the list required an update in 2016 when Arnold Palmer announced he was retiring from the role. The 9 Golfers Who've Been Masters Honorary Starters Nine golfers have been honorary starters at The Masters. Here is the list, along with the years in which each served in that role: Jock Hutchison, 1963-73 Fred McLeod, 1963-76 Gene Sarazen, 1981-99 Byron Nelson, 1981-82 and 1984-2001 Ken Venturi, 1983 Sam Snead, 1984-2002 Arnold Palmer, 2007-2015 Jack Nicklaus, 2010- Gary Player, 2012- Hutchison and McLeod were the first honorary starters in 1963. But why those two? Neither man won The Masters. But each did win another important tournament at Augusta. Bobby Jones was an organizer of the PGA championship for senior golfers, what today is called the Senior PGA Championship. And the first two Senior PGAs were played at Augusta National Golf Club. Hutchison won the first one in 1937, and McCleod won the second one in 1938. Masters Honorary Starters by Year Here's a different way of organizing the list — year first, with golfers who served in those years: 1963-73: Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod 1974-76: Fred McLeod 1977-80: No honorary starter 1981-82: Gene Sarazen and Byron Nelson 1983: Gene Sarazen and Ken Venturi 1984-1999: Gene Sarazen, Byron Nelson and Sam Snead 2000-2001: Byron Nelson and Sam Snead 2002: Sam Snead 2003-2006: No honorary starter 2007-2009: Arnold Palmer 2010-2011: Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus 2012-2015: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player 2016-: Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player Venturi filled in for Nelson in 1983 at Nelson's request; Nelson was unable to attend The Masters that year because of his wife's illness.