Grilled Cheeses & Green Jackets: The Traditions of the Masters

Nikhil Dhruv ’26 in Sports | April 12, 2024

          As azaleas bloom and Georgian pines sway, it’s that time again—the Masters is upon us. Thursday, April 11 marks the beginning of the 2024 Masters, an annual golf tournament which brings together some of the world’s greatest golfers to compete for the legendary Green Jacket and the esteemed title of Masters Champion. The tournament was founded in 1934 by legendary golfer Bobby Jones and investment banker Cliff Roberts. The tournament is played in April at the Augusta National Golf Club located in the remote city-county of Augusta, Georgia. 

          There are many traditions associated with the Masters, the most famous one being the Green Jacket. Since 1949, each winner of the Masters receives the Green Jacket, which they keep until the next tournament. Additionally, winners get to host a ceremonial Champions Dinner the following year. At this dinner with the previous tournament winners, the defending champion gets to pick out a dinner menu that reflects important aspects of their hometown and identity.  Additionally, the Masters has hosted an honorary starter who hits a ceremonial tee shot to kick off the tournament—similar to baseball’s opening pitch—every year since 1963. Most of the time, as a way of celebrating the tournament’s illustrious history and showing respect to great players of the past, the honorary starters are golf legends who are well respected by the golf community. Moreover, players, caddies, and family members play a round at the low-stakes par three course at the golf club the Wednesday before the tournament starts. During practice rounds, players often skip their ball on the 16th hole (also known as the Redbud hole) to entertain the crowd and show off their skills. Augusta National also upholds a no cell phone policy, allowing people to focus exclusively on what they came for in the first place: good golf. One Master’s tradition, however, stands above all the rest in the hearts of the golf community. With the cheapest tickets to attend the tournament usually priced between $2,000 and $2,500 by third-party sellers, you would hope that the food would be cheap. This is where the pimento cheese sandwich comes in. Priced at $1.50, the affordable sandwich is beloved by the golf community and tournament attendees. Despite countless individuals dreaming of attending the event, the only way to obtain first-party tickets to attend the Masters is through winning a raffle, and the odds of winning are only slightly better than 1/200 (0.55% to be exact), meaning the Masters trails only the Super Bowl in terms of hardest-to-obtain tickets.  
          As of now, 88 players are expected to tee off and compete in this year’s Masters (one additional spot is reserved for the winner of the Valero Texas Open). As of now, American PGA (Professional Golfer’s Association) star Scottie Scheffler is predicted by Vegas to win the 2024 Masters.  Trailing him is Rory McIlroy, a four-time major champion. While he is a fantastic player, McIlroy has been off to a tough start in 2024; his highest finish through five tournament starts so far was 19th at the player’s open. The 2024 Masters will have many interesting storylines, such as John Rahm’s quest to defend his title, McIlroy’s pursuit of a Grand Slam, and golfers from the LIV league, such as Cameron Smith and Brooks Koepka, trying to make a name for themselves. As the anticipation builds and the world turns to Augusta National, the 2024 Masters should be one for the record books.