The Masters Champions dinner has been a fixture on Augusta National’s calendar since 1952, when Ben Hogan thought it would be a good idea to get all the Masters winners together for a meal before the start of each year’s tournament.
The event has since grown in stature and prominence, with dozens of the game’s legends in attendance each year. It’s arguably become the most prestigious and exclusive gathering in the game, and it’s a night no invitee would want to miss.
But what’s it really like to be among the green-jacketed greats?
On this week’s episode of Subpar, Presidents Cup International team captain and CBS lead analyst Trevor Immelman shared what the evening’s seating arrangements are like with hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz.
“Two guys who tell the best stories right now are Fuzzy [Zoeller] and Ian Woosnam,” Immelman said. “They’re good guys to sit next to because you’ll just be laughing the whole night long.
“I’ve never sat next to Jack or next to Tiger,” he continued. “Normally, everybody has their seat. They say it’s free seating but everybody knows where their seat is. And so the spot that has become mine over the years — it’s a long rectangular table and there’s a bunch of us that go down to the bottom corner. So it starts with Adam [Scott] and then me, and then Nick Faldo, and then Gary Player, and then Charl Schwartzel, and then Mike Weir. And then straight across from me, is Vijay [Singh]. So that’s kind of our corner down there.
“And then on this side of me — it’s changed a little bit over the years. Craig Stadler has sat there. But Tiger always sits in the next seat over. Him and Jack [Nicklaus] are like halfway down the table on that side.”
Immelman said that the attendees are creatures of habit when it comes to the seating arrangement.
“Everybody has their spot. It’s so, so funny. Nobody really moves around,” he said. “The most uncomfortable guy every year is the guy that won it I guess you would say two years before. Because the year that he was defending champion, he was sitting at the head of the table between Ben Crenshaw and the chairman. So the year after that when there’s a new champion, he doesn’t know where he’s going to sit or where his spot is. So he’s like kind of, walking around trying to find an open chair and everybody’s got their spot. So that’s quite interesting to see. It’s always fun to see where guys end up.”
When Stoltz and Knost asked Immelman to name the best and worst dinners over the last 14 years, Immelman said he couldn’t name the worst. But he did say that this year’s dinner honoring Hideki Matsuyama was one for the books.
“It was so fantastic,” he said. “All the drinks that he had, the whole feel for the evening, the speech that he gave in English. It was unbelievable.”
Immelman said his favorite meal was Adam Scott’s Australian-themed surf and turf in 2014. And as for Immelman’s own South African-inspired meal, which featured a ground beef casserole dish called bobotie, he said he received a personal compliment from Nicklaus.
“He spends a ton of time in South Africa, or has in the past, designing courses or going on holidays and safaris and stuff like that,” Immelman said of Nicklaus. “He came up to me and was like, ‘man, you nailed it. It’s just how I remembered it when I had it in South Africa. So thanks so much.’ So that was cool. That was something that I remember.”
For more from Immelman, including how he found out he’d be replacing Nick Faldo in the CBS booth, and how LIV Golf has made his job as Presidents Cup captain more difficult, check out the full interview below.