Is There Assigned Seating At The Masters Champions Dinner?
There is far more to the adoration of The Masters than its place in the calendar as the first Major of the year and its iconic permanent home, Augusta National.
The tournament is also loved for its many traditions and the Champions Dinner is one of the most enduring. The dinner is hosted by the previous year’s victor and has been a tradition since 1952 following a suggestion from two-time winner Ben Hogan.
A tradition started in 1952, the Champions Dinner. #themasters pic.twitter.com/bXCECQDET1April 5, 2022
Considering the number of traditions, rituals and rules in evidence during Masters week, it would be easy to assume there is assigned seating at the Champions Dinner too, but is there? Well, yes and no.
The only attendee who is not a previous winner of the tournament is Augusta National chairman Fred Ridley, and he sits at the head of the table. Typically, the host will sit there too, flanked by the chairman and regular Master of Ceremonies Ben Crenshaw, with everyone else able to choose where to sit. Easy, right? Well, not quite. There is still etiquette to adhere to.
Some of the regular attendees are golf royalty and their places at the table tend to reflect that status. That means the likes of six-time Masters winner Jack Nicklaus, five-time winner Tiger Woods and eight-time Major winning veteran Tom Watson take up the same seats at the top half of the table each year.
After that, it’s up to the individual to find a spot, but that can apparently be a daunting prospect for players who are newer to the occasion. After all, over the years, other players have formed traditions of their own, and prefer a certain spot and player to sit next to. Because of that, those new to the dinner can usually draw on assistance from some of the elder statesman.
Adam Scott, who won The Masters in 2013, summarised the situation well, saying: “It’s not assigned seating, but a lot people sit in the same chairs. I like that, to be perfectly honest. I like the fact that you kind of feel like that’s your spot.”
Of course, 2023 promises to be even more delicate where it comes to choosing a seat. That’s because several former champions who will attend now play with the PGA Tour’s rival LIV Golf. Will the LIV rebels feel obliged to sit together and risk a them vs us vibe? Or will they integrate seamlessly into the wider group as everyone agrees to let bygones be bygones, for one evening at least? Only time will tell.
Possible awkwardness has certainly been a subject on some players’ minds. Even host Scottie Scheffler has joked he may give Bubba Watson a separate table.
Then there’s John Rahm, who has been thinking about it even though he won’t be there. He explained: “One thing I keep going back to and it's probably only funny to me, but I think the Masters Champions Dinner's going to be a little tense compared to how it's been in the past. So, I keep thinking about it because I wish I could be there and just be able to see how things work out.”
We’ve already established that Woods is unlikely to be left wondering where to sit this year, but even he admits he doesn’t know how he’ll react to seeing LIV players at The Masters. Perhaps, though, it’s his words that others would do well to heed: "The Champion’s Dinner’s going to be obviously, something that’s talked about. You know, we as a whole need to honour Scottie. Scottie’s the winner, it’s his dinner and so making sure that Scottie gets honoured correctly.”
Sounds straightforward enough. All that leaves is for players to choose a seat and enjoy the evening! Well, the seats that aren’t unofficially assigned to others, anyway.