What Is the Masters Champions Dinner? What to Know About the Iconic Golf Tournament's Tradition

Started by Ben Hogan in 1952, the traditional Masters Champions Dinner is hosted by the tournament's defending champion, who also curates the dinner's menu

Masters Dinner during the 1958 Masters Tournament
The Masters Champions Dinner in 1958. Photo: Augusta National/Getty

The 2022 Masters Tournament kicks off this week at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, along with a series of time-honored traditions.

In addition to its green jackets, Par-3 contest and honorary opening tee shots, one such beloved tradition is the Masters Champions Dinner, an exclusive event taking place the Tuesday of Masters week, hosted by the tournament's reigning champion.

With Hideki Matsuyama — the first Japanese pro to win the Masters — hosting his first Masters Dinner this week, here are five things to know about the event.

Ben Hogan hosted the first Masters Champions Dinner in 1952.

The tradition began in 1952, when reigning champion Hogan hosted a dinner for all previous winners, according to the PGA Tour. The inaugural dinner marked the formation of the Masters Club, its membership limited to Masters champions and some honorary inductees. The Masters Club is now known as the Champions Dinner.

Each year's menu is selected by the defending champion.

Traditionally, the defending champion hosts the Masters Champions Dinner, in addition to holding the privilege of choosing the menu.

Last year's dinner, curated by Dustin Johnson, featured pigs-in-a-blanket, filet mignon and peach cobbler, according to The Augusta Chronicle.

The dinner is hosted at the Augusta National Golf Club.

The Masters Champions Dinner takes place ahead of tournament play — always scheduled for the first week of April — at the private Augusta National Golf Club. The exclusive event is open only to past champions and honorary members.

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The defending champion is inducted into the Masters Club.

During the dinner, the host receives a gold locket inscribed with the club's emblem, the Augusta Chronicle said. Marking the occasion, each guest also passes around their menu for everyone to sign, according to Golf.com.

This year's Masters Champions Dinner will be hosted by Matsuyama.

Hideki Matsuyama
Jared C. Tilton/Getty

Still recovering from a back injury, Matsuyama, 30, is preparing to defend his Masters title this week, in addition to hosting his first Masters Champions Dinner. Without giving away his menu selections, he admitted last month to Reuters that he's feeling the pressure.

"Of course, I'm looking forward to returning to Augusta National as the defending champion. There are some expectations from myself, whether it's pressure or not," he said. "But looking forward to (it) and also at the same time trying to prepare the best I can."

"The same with the Champions Dinner. I don't speak English very well and so it's kind of a two-sided coin. I'm looking forward to it, of course, to be with all those great past Masters champions but, at the same time too, very nervous about the speech I will be giving," Matsuyama added.

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