Bernhard Langer reveals how the Champions' Dinner has reverted to the old tradition of offering an open floor to its guests
After shooting 73, one over par, for a steady start to his 2015 Masters challenge, Bernhard Langer – who seems as evergreen at Augusta as the pine trees here – revealed how the famous Tuesday night Champions’ Dinner at Augusta may have reverted to a past routine of having a number of its guests speak.
“The Champions’ Dinner was really nice because a lot of the guys stood up and said a few words,” said Langer, 57, the Masters champion of 1985 and 1993. “In recent years it has been just the chairman who says a few words, then Ben Crenshaw on behalf of the players, and then the defending champion, and that was it. This year the dinner ended but nobody got up, and then a couple of stories came out and everybody stayed.
“Years ago, there would always be three, four or five comments, a couple of jokes and a couple of stories and that was great. It was back to a few more people speaking this year and everyone enjoyed it.”
Langer said he did not contribute any jokes or anecdotes himself, and neither would he share any of the anecdotes that he heard at Tuesday’s private event, although he did share one from the distant past:
“Years ago, Augusta used to mow the fairways in two halves, split down the middle; half the fairway mown towards the tee, and the other half towards the green – you would have a shiny side and a dark side. I think it was Arnie [Palmer] who made the comment that it was unfair. If a ball landed on the shiny side it would run for 40 yards, but if it landed on the other side of the middle it would stop within two yards. We came back a year later and the entire golf course was mowed towards the tee! Maybe Arnie should not have said anything after all!”
Billy Casper, the 1970 Masters champion who died in February, was remembered at this year’s Champions’ Dinner.
“Billy Casper is not among us any more and he was sorely missed at the dinner,” said Langer, now a veteran of 29 Champions’ Dinners. “He was a wonderful person and not just a great champion, and his memory came into some of the storytelling after the dinner.
“Billy would always get Masters flags signed by the players to give away to charities, and so on Tuesday we signed a few flags to give to his family, so they can have some for themselves.”
Another tradition of the Champions’ Dinner is for the defending champion to choose the menu. This year Bubba Watson showed a certain lack of imagination when he opted for exactly the same menu as he offered two years ago, after his first Masters triumph. Caesar salad and corn muffins were followed by grilled chicken with green beans, corn, mashed potatoes and macaroni cheese, with a dessert of confetti cake and Vanilla ice cream.
Bernhard Langer is an ambassador for Mercedes-Benz, and Mercedes-Benz is global sponsor of the 2015 Masters Tournament