If you happen to watch the 2017 Masters Tournament this week, you can expect to hear the phrase a “tradition unlike any other” spouted off countless times during the television broadcast. While you may find that saying to be utterly annoying by the end of the weekend, or view it as the perfect punchline for a drinking game, there is no denying that there is a serious amount of truth behind it.
For starters, the Masters is the only major tournament in golf that takes place on the same course every year. Many argue that Augusta National Golf Club, the tournament’s host, is arguably the most exclusive and iconic golf course in the world. Without the Masters, though, Augusta National would still ooze with tradition and some of the best most beautiful landscaping you will ever see on a golf course.
Magnolia Lane, the 300-yard, magnolia tree-lined road, serves as the entrance to Augusta National Golf Club and leads right up to the clubhouse. Founders Circle is home to Augusta’s famed flowerbed shaped like the United States with a yellow Masters flag planted at Augusta’s exact location on the map. Lastly, the course at Augusta National is always in pristine condition and is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. As former Masters champion Mark O’Meara put it, playing at Augusta is like “playing golf in a nursery, or heaven.”
Aside from the pure beauty of the course itself, the traditions associated with the Masters are unrivaled in sports. With that said, here we highlight the top seven traditions of the renowned Masters Tournament.
1. Champions dinner
Every year since 1952, on the Tuesday night before the Masters tees off, the champion from the previous year’s Masters hosts a dinner for all past champions and a few members of Augusta National. The host champion has the honor of choosing the menu for the evening. The dinner serves as a time for some of the game’s greatest players to honor and enjoy each other away from the course.
2. Par 3 Tournament
The nine-hole Par 3 Tournament is one of the more popular traditions of Masters week. While some of the game’s better players will decline to participate, you can always count on seeing several of golf’s legends taking part. Guys like Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Crenshaw, and Arnold Palmer almost always participate. This event functions as a light-hearted lead-in to Thursday’s opening round. Players will occasionally bring their children or other celebrities to serve as their caddies.
3. Skipping balls on the 16th hole
This tradition ties into the Par 3 Tournament and occurs on the par-3 16th hole, where a large pond rests between the green and the tee box. Players will go to the bank of the pond after hitting their tee shot and attempt to skip golf balls across the pond by hitting them with a golf club. The crowd will erupt when a player successfully skips a ball across the pond, and on a couple of occasions, this has happened:
4. Ceremonial opening tee shot
Although they won’t take part in the actual tournament, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player will tee off on the first hole early in the morning on Thursday to signify the start of the tournament. 2016 was the first time since 2007 that the late Arnold Palmer will not be among the honorary starters.
5. Champions Locker Room
In adding to the exclusivity of everything surrounding Augusta National, two clubhouses will be in use during the Masters this week; one for the majority of the field, and another for all of the players who have won past Masters championships. The Champions Locker Room is full of history and memorabilia from past tournaments. It’s just another perk that comes with winning the prestigious tournament.
6. The crystal
Certain accomplishments award players with pieces of crystal throughout Masters week. Players will receive a crystal bowl for a hole-in-one, double-eagle, or Par 3 Tournament championship. For the low round of the day, players will receive a crystal vase. For an eagle, players get two crystal goblets.
7. The green jacket
The Masters champion receives a green jacket — arguably the most legendary prize awarded to a winner in all of sports. The previous year’s winner gives the jacket to the tournament champion in a ceremony on the green of the 18th hole. Players get to keep their jackets for a year, and then they return them to the club, where they are stored for the players to wear only at events on the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club.
8. Same time, same place. Every year
The Masters always takes place at the same time of year, every year. The first full weekend in April always has been, and for the foreseeable future, always will be, reserved for the Masters. On top of that, the Masters is the only major tournament of the PGA Tour season that’s played on the same course year after year.
9. All caddies are required to wear white jumpsuits
For several years, players in the Masters weren’t even allowed to use their own caddies (they had to use only those employed by Augusta National Golf Club). In 1983, the club lifted this rule and allowed players to use their own bag men as long as they were dressed in the required caddie attire — an all-white jumpsuit.
10. No electronic devices allowed
Cell phones, tablets, cameras, and any other type of electronic devices are banned from Augusta National. Cameras are allowed during practice rounds. Beyond that, any violation of this rule will result in a “permanent loss of credentials (tickets).” Violators are often banned from the club for life. Side note: This rule applies to players as well.