How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
While there are an endless number of reasons to love the Masters, the Grill Room counts down the top 10 as the 78th edition gets underway.
10. Amateurs in the field: The Masters honors its founder, amateur legend Bobby Jones, by extending invitations to notable amateurs and amateur champions around the world.
9. Magnolia Lane: The road to the Augusta National clubhouse is 330 yards long and is lined with a canopy of magnolia trees that date back to the mid-1800s. According to the Augusta Chronicle, there are 61 magnolia trees on each side of Magnolia Lane. Those trees' branches meet overhead, creating a tunnel effect that is particularly striking when they are in bloom. It has yet to be confirmed, but we hear this is what the walkway to heaven looks like.
8. The menu: Limited, like commercial interruptions, and ridiculously affordable and tasty. Pimento cheese sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, chicken sandwiches, Coke, sports drinks and beer. Sandwiches are $1.50. A dollar-fifty, people.
7. Par-3 Contest: Since 1960, a semi-social event on Augusta National's par-3 course has been played the day before the first round of the Masters Tournament. No player twho has won the nine-hole event has ever gone on to win the actual tournament the same year. Girlfriends and wives often caddie for their golfing beaus, and they bring their kids to the course. Talk about fun for the whole family.
6. Champions Dinner: The Champions Dinner has been an annual tradition at the Masters since 1952, when Ben Hogan suggested and hosted the first edition. The previous year's winner gets to select the menu – and he also has to pay.
5. Ceremonial tee shots: Jock Hutchison and Fred McLeod hit the first ceremonial opening tee shots in 1963. For many years the trio of Sam Snead, Gene Sarazen and Byron Nelson filled the role. The much-loved tradition now has Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus.
4. Drive, Chip & Putt Championship: Saying this year's inaugural Drive, Chip & Putt Championship was a success is like saying the Masters is just another golf tournament. Understatement.of.the.century. Eighty-eight juniors from around the U.S. and Canada converged on Augusta National the Sunday before the Masters - a scene alikened to Willy Wonka opening up his chocolate factory to children with golden tickets.
3. Limited commercial interruption: The Masters, by design, has fewer commercial breaks than any other golf tournament. While we'd love to never be taken away from coverage, I guess we can't complain about seeing 57 out of every 60 minutes.
2. Amen Corner: The second shot at the par-4 11th, all of the par-3 12th, and the tee shot at the par-5 13th at Augusta are nicknamed Amen Corner. This term was first used in print by author Herbert Warren Wind in his April 21, 1958 Sports Illustrated article about the Masters, and is one of the most beloved arenas in sport.
1. Green jacket: The tradition of the green jacket at Augusta National Golf Club dates to 1937. That year, members of the club wore green jackets during the tournament so that patrons in attendance could easily recognize them if they needed to ask questions. Slipping a jacket onto the winner of the Masters began in 1949. Even better? Women are sporting them now, too.