I am a sucker for tradition and golf is brimming with it. The Masters is at the top of that tradition. As is true with most events food traditions play a central role at the Masters.
The two that fascinate me the most are the on-course concessions and the Tuesday night, Masters Club dinner.
Let’s start with the concessions because, of the two, they are the only ones you are likely to enjoy.
The concessions served at the Masters are a rare breed in the sporting world. The prices haven’t spiked over the years like other sporting events, the food hasn’t been updated to accommodate current food trends and no one is complaining.
If you are lucky enough to get tickets to the Masters you will be able to enjoy a pimento cheese sandwich on the grounds as has been done for over 40 years, though allegedly it tastes a little different now. A gentleman named Nick Rangos created the pimento cheese sandwich for the club around 1975. In 1998, Augusta switched vendors to a local place called WifeSaver. Rangos refused to give the recipe up so WifeSaver worked to recreate it and apparently nailed it, or got close enough the average person can’t tell the difference. Then in 2013 Augusta stopped working with WifeSaver, who true to tradition refused to hand over their recipe. So the current recipe doesn’t taste quite the same according to the people who are there every year. If you want to get close to the original recipe you can still get it at WifeSaver.
I haven’t been to the Masters yet, we are having pimento sandwiches on Masters Sunday this year. We are using a recipe we both know we like from a woman I met and swapped food with at my local Indy Food Swap.
The price of this sandwich has changed very little over the years as you can see from this tweet that is just a few days old.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) April 4, 2016
The other tradition I find fascinating is one I just learned about this week and will never see in person. On the Tuesday before the Masters begins all previous winners of the Masters are invited to a dinner hosted by the newest champion. This is a tradition that has been carried on since 1952 when Ben Hogan started it. At some point in the tradition, the menu was decided by the champion. Which since the champion is footing the bill for the dinner seems only appropriate.
The menus have certainly varied over the years. Here is a photo of this year’s dinner that was hosted by Jordan Spieth.
It isn’t particularly fancy, but it was certain to please most of the guests I would assume. I think I would have stepped up the dessert a little myself.
While you could say that Jordan played it safe there have been others that have been considerable outside the box. In my opinion, some of the most daring choices are:
Sandy Lyle, 1989
He served haggis, a Scottish dish made of innards and oats.
Nick Faldo, 1990
He followed up Sandy Lyle’s dinner with steak and kidney pie. To say Masters champions aren’t a fan of innards would be a safe bet.
Tiger Woods, 1998
At age 22 what would you pick? Tiger went with cheeseburgers, milkshakes and french fries.
Charl Schwartzel, 2012
Being from South Africa he went with what must be home comfort food, BBQ. Though unlike Spieth his was served with monkey gland sauce.
Bubba Watson served the same meal for both wins, Jack Nicklaus apparently let the chef choose the menu.
The menu I would most like to eat is the 2001 dinner from Vijay Singh. Thai seafood tom kah, chicken panang curry, baked sea scallops with garlic sauce, rack of lamb with yellow kari sauce, baked filet Chilean sea bass with three flavor chili sauce, lychee sorbet. It was apparently a fan favorite over the last few years. If you want to know more about past dinners you can find them here.
Today is the second round of the Masters and the cut day. By this afternoon we will know who will go on to have a shot to win on Sunday, win a green jacket and host next year’s dinner. The first Masters I ever watched was 5 years ago and Rory McIlroy, my favorite golfer, had a rough go and hit a ball into the cabins. While it made me feel good that even the pros have a bad day on the course it was a bummer to see him crumble. I hope this is his year I look forward to watching on Sunday and seeing who can bring home the win and continue the traditions. I am guaranteed to be crying on the couch when the green jacket is presented no matter who wins. It is just tradition.