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Written by: Betsy Babu
The Masters week is all about tradition but with the current scenarios it remains to be seen how much of these will sustain. And this year’s Masters is definitely going to be unlike any other.
No azaleas because of the revised Golf calendar and for the first time ever no patrons will line the fairways at Augusta. The Par3 contest is still a question mark as the club is yet to announce whether Wednesday’s Par-3 Contest or Thursday’s ceremonial opening tee shots from honorary starters Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player will go as usual. And even the cold November winds replacing the tournament’s usual pleasant weather of the April start.
However, one tradition still remains, though in a bit different format- The Masters Champions dinner, as confirmed by Tiger Woods at the Zozo Championship. The Masters week begins on November 9, with the tournament rounds from November 12-15.
The idea is simple; winners of the Masters are members of an exclusive club, so they get together each year on the Tuesday night of the tournament week to welcome the previous year’s winners to the club. That club is officially known at the Masters Club, but everyone knows the gathering as the Champions Dinner.
The menu is chosen by the reigning champion who also pays for preparing the menu. Over the years the menu has ranged from cheeseburgers to sushi to haggis. Champions can order off the regular Masters menu if they’re not interested in what the defending champion would like to serve.
Choosing the menu for the fifth time is Tiger Woods, who triumphed in an iconic fashion last year. The plan this year is to hold the dinner on November 10, in its usual Tuesday night slot during the Masters week. The dinner will however be relocated from its usual place i.e. upstairs in the Augusta National Clubhouse and will be shifted downstairs, so they have more room to socially distance.
Woods said the menu for 2020 Champion’s Dinner will reflect his Southern Californian upbringing and has opted to serve sushi and sashimi to start, steak and chicken fajitas for the main course followed by strawberry and vanilla milkshakes.
“Being born and raised in SoCal, having fajitas and sushi was part of my entire childhood and I’m going back to what I had in 2006,” Woods said. “So, we’ll have Steak and chicken fajitas and we’ll have sushi and sashimi out on the deck, and I hope the guys will enjoy it”. As for dessert, Woods opted for milkshakes- a memory from his first Champions dinner after winning a record fashion in 1997, where he recalls Gene Sarazen and Sam Snead having milkshakes at the 1998 dinner.
Woods’ menu follows a Champions Dinner trend, in which they convey a real sense of national pride.
The majority of champions choose to serve traditional food from their home country which has led to some cracking menus in the recent years. It is difficult to find info on Champions Dinner menus from the early days of the event, but more recent menus are reported in the media in the weeks leading up to the Masters.
Its indeed quite shocking that then most popular choices over the past 20 years have been a Caesar salad to start, filet mignon for the main course and vanilla ice cream for dessert.
Another sad blow to this year’s Champions Dinner tradition would be that many of the past champions are unlikely to attend the dinner. Charlie Coody, Bob Goalby and Larry Mize do plan to show up and Larry is even preparing to compete. “I think we’re not going to get a lot of the past champions coming because obviously they’re at the at-risk age”, said Woods, remarking that it would be a shame that this would be happening but can’t be avoided given the circumstances. And what can be done is to at least have the traditions ongoing while maintaining the safety guidelines.
Few of the safety measure as listed in the letter sent to the past champions:
The Masters Champions Dinner dates back to 1952. But how did it start and who came up with the idea?
Ben Hogan is the man who suggested it and that first dinner held on April 4, 1952 at Augusta National Clubhouse, was arranged by Hogan. The following year the gathering was formalised into the Champions Dinner we know today and has been ongoing since then without fail.