Mr. McArthur’s Annual Masters Pool: Why Your Students Have Been Watching Golf During Class


Senior and Masters pool champion Thor Graham playing golf with other participants, sophomore Leo Romano and Middle School math teacher Jeff Newmark.

Math teacher Zach McArthur’s Masters pool, a competition surrounding the most popular professional golf tournament of the year, has become a tradition unlike any other at Latin.
Each April since 2017, students, teachers, and alumni have flocked to enter their picks, hopeful for a chance to acquire Latin’s version of the coveted green jacket that is presented to the winner at Gathering. The first competition included 62 participants, and the contest has flourished since, reaching a maximum of 170 participants in 2019 and 151 this year. Whether someone is a golf expert or has never watched a PGA tour event in their entire life, people of all experiences are enticed by the opportunity to compete in the Latin Masters Pool.
Mr. McArthur ran a similar Masters pool at his former school in Boston and resurrected the idea at Latin with fellow math teacher Chris van Benthuysen, who created the Excel spreadsheet that works as a live scoreboard. Each participant selects seven golfers—of which the four best scores are used—from various categories, including former Masters champions, recent major golf champions, and top 50 players.
Although the rules seem pretty straightforward, the strategies can be rather complex. This year’s winner, senior Thor Graham, shared the elaborate scheme that carried him to victory. “The strategy is to look at how each of my carefully selected players have played at Augusta throughout the years and look for any sleepers that most players won’t have,” he said. Thor’s self-proclaimed “god squad” that won him the green jacket included Masters champion Scottie Scheffler along with Cameron Smith, Will Zalatoris, and Collin Morikawa. Other popular strategies include picking favorites, funniest names, and randomization.
One aspect that makes Mr. McArthur’s Masters pool so unique are his daily emails recapping each day at Augusta and Latin alike. The emails contain an astonishing amount of content, ranging from anecdotes about the tournament to TikToks about golf and funny pictures of students and teachers in each link. This year’s emails were especially engaging as they included adorable footage of Mr. McArthur’s son, Miles, enjoying his first Masters.
Regarding the emails, Mr. McArthur said, “They seem to be growing in length over the years. I never know when to stop each day. Too much excitement to cover.” The emails are most definitely a large part of what makes the competition enjoyable to many, and the pool would not be the same without them.
One downside of the pool, at least in the eyes of some teachers, is the amount of attention that is dedicated to tracking the leaderboard. The broadcast was projected onto the screen in the Learning Commons on Thursday while others watched on their phones and computers throughout the school day.
Junior Alice Mihas, who competed in her first-ever Masters pool this year, said, “I watched more golf than I have ever watched in my entire life in the past week, including watching on my classmates laptops during class.”
Despite the possible distractions created by Mr. McArthur’s Masters pool, he said, “I’m all for anything that’s community building at Latin, especially things that involve multiple grades at once, or students and faculty together.” The essence of the Latin Masters pool is to bring people together. Students from different grades are seen helping each other with their picks, watching the tournament, and even following along over the weekend to see who comes out on top. It is one of the most unique community-based experiences at Latin and is made particularly special by Mr. McArthur’s enthusiasm for both Latin and the Masters.