However you feel about the pomp and circumstance of the Masters, the legendary Champions Dinner—on the Tuesday evening of tournament week—is among the great traditions in all sports: thirty or so Green Jackets breaking bread and sharing tales of past masters? Ah, to be a fly on the silverware.
Some players hesitate to share too much color about the tribal grouping – What happens at the Champions Dinner… — but, fortunately, others are more willing. Raymond Floyd talked about how Claude Harmon owns the room with his hilarious storytelling. Fuzzy Zoeller recalled his first dinner, in 1980, when he brought secluded gifts to lighten the mood. Tom Watson, just last year, spoke about how Jack Nicklaus was regaling attendees with memories from his epic 1986 victory.
On Tuesday, it’s Adam Scott’s turn. Speaking at the Sony Open, the 2013 Masters winner gave golf fans a peek behind the Founders’ Room curtain.
“Generally, I sit next to Trevor most years,” Scott began, referring to Trevor Immelmann, winner in 2008 and captain of the International Presidents Cup in 2022. “We’ve been pals since we were junior golfers, and after a year of hosting the best of the table, The next diner soon lined up bees to Trevor’s corner to post beside him.” (It is customary for the defending champion to sit at the head of the table alongside the dinner’s resident host, two-time champion Ben Crenshaw, and Augusta Nationals president Fred Ridley.)
“[Immelman] He sits to my left most years and Mark O’Meara sits to my right,” Scott continued. “The seats aren’t assigned, but a lot of people sit in the same chairs. I love it, to be completely honest. I love the fact that you kind of feel like this is where you are. I enjoy the whole thing. I enjoy hearing what everyone has to say that evening.
Like, Fred Couples does a great job of getting some of the older guys into storytelling. He’s a very good facilitator, Freddy, for that stuff. It’s good fun. I can share it now. Now I’ve been here a long time. Sharing the evening with a few friends. Even leading up to this. I often see Zack Johnson like in a workout trailer or something a month away and they’re both really excited on Tuesday night.”
Last year’s dinner, hosted by Hideki Matsuyama, provided one of the most exciting moments in the history of the modern gathering when Matsuyama, feeling more comfortable speaking Japanese, got up and addressed his fellow champions in his second language.
“He rehearsed his speech and spoke English, and I think the room really appreciated that a lot,” Scott said. “Even though it was three minutes or so, it probably felt like an hour to him. But I think the room really appreciated that and it showed how much it meant to him to be part of this club.”
Dinner isn’t all oomph and chills. far from it. There are jokes and laughs (some of them — at the height of Sam Snead, anyway — are too blue to replicate in these pages), and occasionally a little awkwardness.
Bernhard Langer is sitting next to him [former club chairman] “Billy Payne at one dinner was very memorable to me,” said Scott, starting with a laugh. “I have a suggestion about something. It was kind of a mood killer one night. Good stuff.”
Scott said he couldn’t remember the year this happened, “but that was the gist of it. You can sit.”
What did Langer press for?! different axis? Expanding the Augusta Passages? The freedom to wear the green jacket wherever he pleases? The mind is spinning! Then again, not all secrets of the Champions’ Dinner should be revealed, lest the get-together lose its magic.
Scott, at 42, still has several masters ahead of him. But when the day came to nail the nails, he said a certain tradition still lured him back to Augusta come tournament week.
“I look forward to going to dinner forever,” he said.