When Did Masters' Champions Dinner Begin and Who Started It?

Did you know that Ben Hogan is credited with starting the Champions Dinner tradition at Augusta National Golf Club during Masters Tournament week? Keep reading to see the letter Hogan sent that started it all.

The "Champions Dinner" is what golf fans and media call it; on the grounds of Augusta National the official name is "Masters Club." What is it? Every year, on the Tuesday evening prior to the Thursday opening round of The Masters, former Masters champions who are on site attend a dinner that is open only to them plus the current Augusta National chairman.

When was the Champions Dinner first held? In 1952. And who instigated its creation? Ben Hogan.

(Related: See decades of Champions Dinner menus)

Hogan was the winner of the 1951 Masters. Back at Augusta National as the defending champ in 1952, a simple thought popped into his head: Why not get all the past champions together for a meal and camaraderie?

And so Hogan sent the following letter to Augusta National co-founder and chairman Clifford Roberts:

Dear Cliff:

I wish to invite you to attend a stag dinner at the Augusta National on Friday evening, April 4th, at 7:15 p.m. It's my wish to invite all the Masters Champions who are going to be here, plus Bob Jones and Cliff Roberts. The latter has agreed to make available his room for the dinner party and I hope you can be on hand promptly at 7:15 p.m. My only stipulation is that you wear your green coat.

Cordially yours,
Ben Hogan

The letter was dated March 31, 1952. And the very first Champions Dinner did, indeed, take place on April 4, 1952.

The following year, the Champions Dinner was formalized into the tradition we know today. It is held on the second floor of the Augusta National clubhouse, all the former champions show up wearing their Green Jackets, and the defending champion chooses the menu for the dinner. (Those in attendance also have the option of ordering off the Augusta National restaurant menu.)

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