Culinary delights and golf in the same room? It sounds like something out of a golf movie or a reality series. But that’s just what happens at the annual Masters Champions Dinner.
Aside from donning the green jacket and earning the prestige of winning one of the most difficult tournaments in all of sports, champions also get to host a dinner where they select every course — all while rubbing elbows with other golf royalty.
With the burgeoning popularity of golf — and winners from all corners of the world — that stacks up to an intriguing, mouthwatering meal for all attendees. So get out your (lettuce) wedge, swing your favorite (turkey) club, and take a glance at some of the best and the worst meals ever served at Augusta National Golf Club.
Although The Masters started in 1934, the official Masters Champions Dinner didn’t become a tradition until 1952. In that year, Ben Hogan began The Masters Champions Dinner, also known as The Masters Club Dinner, which takes place at the dining room of Augusta National on the Tuesday night of tournament week at 7:15 p.m. — although the first iterations were held on the Friday of tournament week.
It’s an exclusive event — only Masters winners and the chairman of Augusta National Golf Club (currently Fred Ridley) are allowed to attend. That means it has no wives, girlfriends, children, press, caddies, or agents — making it perhaps the most exclusive dinner in the world.
The idea is simple. Last year’s winner — aka the defending champion — of The Masters gets to choose the entire menu to feed other diners, including appetizers, entrees, drinks, and dessert. However, they also get to pick up the check — often totaling nearly $10,000. But it’s a small price to pay for the honor and prestige of winning The Masters.
From a food perspective, The Masters Champions Dinner covers a wide array of cuisines, due not only to the tastes of the winner but also the geographic region they hail from. It’s not all steak and potatoes at the dinner — but it’s sure to delight the taste buds of everyone involved.
Culinary tastes are subjective, and everyone has their own idea of what a great meal is. However, a few Masters Champions Dinners stick out due to their eclectic menu or rave reviews from other golfers. Here are some of the best.
If you’re more of a meat-and-cheese type of person, you’ll probably go wild for Scottie Scheffler’s 2023 Masters Champions Dinner menu. The highlight of the dinner was an appetizer of cheeseburger sliders served “Scottie-style” — that’s with fries atop the meat patty.
After wolfing down those sliders, diners noshed on a melange of foods with seemingly no trend or common feature. But one thing’s for sure — Scottie likes his food spicy:
When Mark O’Meara won The Masters, you might draw the conclusion that he’d been thinking about the Masters Champions Dinner the entire time. O’Meara opted for a Mexico meets Japan type of meal, selecting chicken and steak fajitas paired with sushi and tuna sashimi. If you’re one of the people who can never decide where to eat, you can always “pull an O’Meara” and get a little of everything.
Phil Mickelson is already the best left-handed golfer ever, but he’s somewhat of a Renaissance Man — at least when he’s chowing down. His two Masters Champions Dinners — in 2007 & 2011 — couldn’t be more different. But nonetheless, they’re sure to satiate even the hungriest of eaters.
In 2007, Mickelson created the menu of a makeshift barbecue joint, offering BBQ pulled pork, ribs, chicken, sausage, and heavy helpings of cole slaw. But not to be outdone, he upped the ante in 2011 with a Spanish-themed menu. That year, diners chowed down on:
It would appear that during the four-year gap between championships, Mickelson went and got himself cultured.
If you can’t walk by a sushi bar or ramen shop without stopping in, Hideki Matsuyama’s 2022 dinner is right up your alley. Unsurprisingly, the Japanese linksman gave the dinner a little taste of the Far East on everything from appetizers to the main course to the dessert:
Can a dinner that’s a few hundred dollars a head really be that bad? Well, it’s in the eye of the beholder. While we really can’t say that these Masters Champions Dinner menus were the worst, they definitely left a little something to be desired from invitees. Check out a few of these dinners that may have had other golfers searching Augusta for late-night dining options.
The U.K. — and in particular Scotland — aren’t known for their cuisine. Boil it or deep fry it, maybe add salt and pepper, and that’s about it. For a foodie, it’s all a bit bland. That’s why it should come as no surprise that Scotsman Sandy Lyle put together arguably the worst Masters Champions Dinner of all time.
When diners sat down at the table, they were greeted with mashed potatoes, mashed turnips, and — drum roll, please — haggis. In case you didn’t know, that’s a sheep's stomach stuffed with sheep organ meat, suet, and oatmeal and then boiled to perfection. It’s considered a delicacy in Scotland, but no one’s quite sure how people’s stomachs felt after stuffing it with a sheep’s stomach, liver, heart, and lungs.
Arguably the best German golfer, two-time Masters tournament winner Bernhard Langer went with an authentically German offering at his Masters Champions Dinner. In 1986, Langer took a page from his homeland, serving wiener schnitzel.
While the idea of breaded meat that’s deep-fried sounds appetizing, you just need to make sure you’re cool with dining on adolescent animals. Some say you could taste the innocence in every bite — or maybe that’s just an urban myth.
So maybe Tiger’s 1998 Masters Champions Dinner menu wasn’t necessarily the worst, but it was definitely a product of his youth. One year after Tiger became the youngest winner of The Masters at the ripe age of 21 years, 3 months, and 14 days old, Tiger fed his esteemed dinner guests something that sounded like a college student’s dream:
While it doesn’t scream classy, this menu probably hit the spot — even if it was just nostalgia for the older Masters winners. But as far as the list of dinners goes? It’s a bit of a dud.
South African golfer Trevor Immelman must have been missing home when he put together the menu for the 2009 Masters Champions Dinner. Inspired by concoctions from The Dark Continent, Immelman’s menu included:
Reviews were mixed, but if you want to try food you can rarely get outside of Africa, you probably should have snuck into this meal.
Though these champs didn’t make the cut for the best or worst offerings at the Masters Champions Dinner, they still provided a mouthwatering smorgasbord worth mentioning. Here are a few of the notable offerings over the years.
Although you probably will never get an invitation to The Masters Champions Dinner, you can still get a taste of arguably the top PGA Tour major. Since its inception in 1934, The Masters has offered delicious yet affordable food for spectators.
Even if you don’t win The Masters ticket lottery, you can recreate a taste of the tourney and Augusta by crafting your own menu at home. Before you head to the grocery store, check out a few of these items and have them ready for the first full week of April:
Combine a few of these menu ideas, grab a few man-sodas, and get ready to dine. Food & golf are a blissful pairing sure to make your next Masters watch party one to remember.