Skip to main content

A Glimpse Inside the Masters Champions Dinner

You are a golf reporter. Your job is to provide information, which means you are on the phone a lot. Call backs come at all hours of the day.
Tuesday night it was after dinner at home when the phone rang. It was Ben Crenshaw from California where he had just finished a practice round.
Call backs from people like Ben Crenshaw are one of the best things about being a golf reporter.
Crenshaw plays the Champions Tour now and is still looking for his first victory there. But in 1984 and 1995 he won The Masters.
The subject of this particular interrogation was the annual and very traditional past champions dinner the Tuesday night before the Masters. It is attended only by the tournaments chairman, Hootie Johnson, and past winners of the event.
Yes, Crenshaw said with admirable gusto, I will definitely try caribou and be happy to do it. Im looking forward to that.
The defending champion gets to set the menu and Canadian Mike Weir has selected roasted rack of caribou along with salmon, lobster and a choice of Canadian wines and beers.
Players may also order off the regular club menu, an option that proved invaluable in 1989 when defending champion Sandy Lyle had haggis catered in to the dinner.
I tried that, too, Crenshaw said with a chuckle. But it was some pretty rough stuff.
Lyle is a Scot. Haggis is a native dish that consists of the heart, liver and lungs of a sheep minced with suet, oatmeal, onions and herbs all boiled in the animals stomach.
The presentation, though, was unbelievable, Crenshaw said diplomatically. Sandy was dressed in a proper kilt and a scabbard. The food was rolled out on a table. But I cant say Ive ever tasted anything like it.
Then, when they tell you what it actually is, thats equally as vile.
By now Crenshaw and the information gatherer on the other end of the phone, who was glad he had already eaten, were both laughing out loud.
Crenshaw said one of his favorites had been the shepherds pie and kidney beans ordered up by Nick Faldo in 1990. He remembered the cheeseburgers and milk shakes served by Tiger Woods in 1998 and the fare chosen by Vijay Singh at the 2001 dinner.
Some kind of Polynesian food, Crenshaw said, perhaps not wanting to know the components.
The past champions dinner is a tradition started by Ben Hogan in 1952. Crenshaw put steak and chicken on the menu after his first Masters. Second time around he imported Texas barbecue from his home town of Austin.
The more of these things Crenshaw attended, the more he kept noticing what was on the plate of the now-deceased Gene Sarazen.
Shad roe, Crenshaw said. Every year.
Sarazen, the golf reporter guessed, must have been ordering this particular seafood delicacy off the club menu.
Im not sure, Crenshaw said. But they sure kept giving it to him. Shad roe.
Anyway, its now time for the call back to end. You wish Crenshaw good luck this week at the Toshiba Senior Classic and you hang up the phone. Then you grow curious so you look it up:
Gene Sarazen lived to be 97 years old. Thats a long, long time.
Shad roe.
Email your thoughts to Brian Hewitt