A completely unscientific ranking of 10 Masters traditions
More than any other sporting event in America, the Masters is about tradition, about doing things just so -- no matter what the world is saying, doing, or thinking. From Magnolia Lane to that iconic theme song, everyone has their personal favorite, but is it possible to say which ritual truly embodies the surreal, alternate universe that is Augusta National?
Well, that’s where we come in. To put a dollar down on it. To continue our eternal crusade to make everything a competition. For us it’s not enough to simply have a pimento cheese sandwich, we also have to analyze the pimento cheese sandwich, contextualize it, and hold it up against a litany of rival traditions and see where it falls. And so that’s exactly what we did, assembling 10 of the most-cherished Masters rituals for a no-holds-barred gentlemanly cage match debate to determine the true trademark of Augusta.
10. The Transfer of Power
OK, so maybe this one needs some work, especially after last year when a visibly gutted Jordan Spieth, still reeling from the debacle at Rae's Creek, had to hand off the green jacket to Danny Willett. Nonetheless, this show of sportsmanship is a rare one -- a welcome show of manners in a modern world that’s short on them.
9. All in the Family
Kevin C. Cox
Even if golf for many of us is less a family activity than it is an escape from family, you still have to be a stone-hearted S.O.B. to not find a bunch of pint-sized PGAers running around in Augusta National’s caddie jumpsuits absolutely adorable. As an added bonus, the Par 3 Contest's family-friendly bent also offers the opportunity to see top pros as fathers and husbands, not the laser-eyed birdie Terminators we all know and love.
8. Something New for the Mantle
While green is definitely the color you want to see after 72 holes, a little sparkle doesn’t hurt either. Awarded to players for standout feats like aces, eagles, and low rounds, Augusta National’s crystal trinkets -- from bowls to vases to goblets -- are prizes of the highest order. Needless to say, they sure beat the free Hyundai players get for dunking one at every other tournament on tour.
7. The Pimento Cheese Sandwich
Everybody loves a pimento cheese sandwich…and even if that’s not true (looking at you, Van Pelt), there’s no denying this squishy square’s iconic presence at Augusta National. Oh, and did we mention it only costs $1.50? Even in the year 2017, that fistful of Lactaid pills you’ll wash it down with remain the most expensive part of this must-have Masters meal.
6. Skipping 16
While this is the kind of tradition you might expect to find on the Phoenix Open’s infamous 16th, not Augusta National’s, this new-ish hallmark -- where the gallery goads players into skipping their balls across the pond and onto the green -- adds some much-needed fun to what is otherwise a VERY serious affair. Who knows, you might even see someone hole-out.
5. Champions Dinner
Take the full complement of past Masters champions, put them all at the same table, let last year’s winner pick the menu, and you have a recipe for one of the Master’s most enduring traditions: the Champions Dinner. Featuring one of the most exclusive guest lists in sports, this is certainly not a celebration for the masses, but just the thought of being a fly on the Augusta National clubhouse wall is enough for most starry-eyed golf gurus.
4. The “Augusta” Theme
Forget chirping birds, buzzing bees, and the soft rustle of an April zephyr in the trees -- no sound says “SPRING, HELL YES” quite like the Masters’ plinking, plunking piano overture. And although it’s a more contemporary addition to the Masters canon, the fact this one was penned by Kenny Loggins’s third cousin Dave (not joking), instantly rockets it up the rankings.
3. A Trip Down Magnolia Lane
If it’s good enough for Gary Player, it’s good enough for us.
2. Ceremonial Opening Tee Shots
Though Arnie will certainly be missed this year, that doesn’t diminish the magic of this one-of-a-kind Masters tradition. Signaling the beginning of not only the Masters, but also the year’s quartet of majors, this touching homage offers the single rarest experience a modern golf fan can have: the opportunity to see the game’s legends tee it up on the very ground they once ruled.
1. The Green Jacket
In the totally imaginary pantheon of American sports totems, only three deserve their own cavernous, echoing wings: the Lombardi Trophy, Lord Stanley’s Cup, and the green jacket -- an antiquated, shoulder-padded swath of Pantone 342 with the power to bring grown men, quite literally, to their knees. First awarded to Sam Snead in 1949, the green jacket is the one Masters tradition without which the Masters couldn’t exist, fitting this number one ranking as if it was tailored to.