Masters Champions Dinner, Nick Faldo — and the time he says Gary Player nearly ‘croaked’

Nick Faldo, Gary Player

Nick Faldo and Gary Player in 2002.

Getty Images

The Masters Champion Dinner is still a dinner. 

We say this because the heat may not be contained just to the kitchen this year, and we’ll get to all that in a sec. But first food, glorious food. And a short Nick Faldo story. 

Past Champions Dinner menus have looked divine. Hideki Matsuyama’s A5 Wagyu beef ribeye last year. Adam Scott’s Australian wagyu beef New York strip steak and Moreton Bay lobster in 2014. And fun appetizers and sides and desserts. This year, Scottie Scheffler is going with a Texas theme — he’s from the Lone Star state — with his main course consisting of: Texas ribeye steak or blackened redfish served with family-style mac and cheese, jalapeno creamed corn, fried brussels sprouts and seasoned fries.

And that led to a question this week to Faldo, a three-time Masters winner who’s been attending the dinners since 1990. On the Get a Grip podcast, host Shane Bacon wondered if Faldo looks forward to seeing the menus. 

Yes, he said. But …  

“I just double-check on what Gary Player might choke on.” 

Wait, what?

“A couple years ago,” Faldo continued, “we had these fabulous big prawns, you know, and [cough noise], and you’re like, you’re kidding me, you’re not croaking on us, lad. And he’s — and we all had, you know, we were laughing about it, but for three seconds, Gary’s like, [cough noise].”

It’s here where we’ll note that Player is OK. (As for when the incident may have happened, no recent menu has had prawns, though Charl Schwartzel and Zach Johnson each served shrimp: Schwartzel in 2012, and Johnson in 2008). Faldo continued. 

“No, it’s just usual stories, especially with the dessert, mad sugar rush. And you’re like, I’m going to break all my rules about desserts for one day. The wine will be great. The wine is just delicious. We’ll be fine. We’ll have a bit of everything. It’ll be good.”

the 1958 masters champions dinner
Why Ben Hogan scolded this pro at the Masters Champions Dinner
By: Josh Berhow

As noted above, though, there’s more to this year’s dinner: It’ll be one of the first publicly known closed-quarters gatherings of LIV Golf and PGA Tour players. In short here, it may be something, or it may be nothing. The sides have traded shots and lawsuits over the past year, and now LIV’s six green jacket-wearers — Schwartzel, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson — will sit at the same table as those who back the Tour. 

On the podcast, Bacon asked Faldo: What do you feel like it will be when the doors close?

“I hope, I think, as Tiger [Woods] said — this is Scottie Scheffler’s evening,” Faldo said. “He’s the champion. So to honor him, it should really be like normal. But I got a feeling there’s enough old boys there in the room that — as you get older, you don’t care what you say. Somebody is going to have a sarcastic little dig about something. 

“And hopefully it can stay — I’m sure there will be some jibes. And if it’s just kept in good humor, out of respect for what that dinner is, it wouldn’t go any further than that. But, hey, not 100 percent sure. I say jokingly, the rumor is, we’re using plastic knives and forks this year, just in case.”

Bacon then asked if anyone in the room could break the tension. 

Jack [Nicklaus] is obviously,” Faldo said on the podcast. “Jack is a gentleman — it will be, even as we say, as Tiger has said, hey, it’s Scottie’s evening. Yeah, I don’t know. There’s concerns. 

“But we’ll see if we’re all big boys or not.”

Editor’s note: To listen to the entire podcast, please click here.  

Golf Magazine

Subscribe To The Magazine

Nick Piastowski

Nick Piastowski Editor

Nick Piastowski is a Senior Editor at and Golf Magazine. In his role, he is responsible for editing, writing and developing stories across the golf space. And when he’s not writing about ways to hit the golf ball farther and straighter, the Milwaukee native is probably playing the game, hitting the ball left, right and short, and drinking a cold beer to wash away his score. You can reach out to him about any of these topics — his stories, his game or his beers — at