Find the nicest pocket square possible and stretch your pinky out for this year’s Masters Champions Dinner. Well, only if you own a green jacket. The ultra-exclusive meal with a menu chosen by the most recent green jacket winner, Hideki Matsuyama, features one of the most expensive proteins in the world. The 30-year-old 2021 Masters winner is honoring his native Japan through the four-course extravaganza, most notably Miyazaki Wagyu.
Matsuyama’s addition to the dinner raises the game for ingredients being served to an elite group of golfers. He planned for Masters tournament winners to eat the top brand of Japanese Wagyu, a cut of beef known for its snowflake-like marbling. Miyazaki Wagyu can cost more than $100 per ounce. The ribeye will be served at Tuesday night’s gala with mixed mushrooms, vegetables and a sansho daikon ponzu, whatever that delicious sounding combination of random words represents.
The yearly dinner’s menu has reflected the regional specials and nationalities of previous Masters winners. Last year’s Masters Champions Dinner featured a menu selected by Dustin Johnson, a South Carolina native, with such items as peach cobbler and pigs in a blanket. Other notable dishes include 2017 winner Sergio Garcia’s choice of arroz caldoso de bogavante, a spanish seafood and rice entree. Sandy Lyle, the 1988 Masters winner, had selected haggis for his menu. Charl Schwartzel’s 2011 win saw monkey gland sauce served a year later.
The dinner came into the spotlight for non-culinary reasons in 1997, when Fuzzy Zoeller, the 1979 Masters winner, looked ahead to Tiger Woods’ first dinner, the first African-American Masters champion and said “What you guys do when he gets in here? You pat him on the back and say congratulations and enjoy it and tell him not to serve fried chicken next year? Got it.” Zoeller then nearly ended the interview with a smile, snapping his fingers and walking away, before continuing “or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve.”
Zoeller lost sponsorships from K-Mart and Dunlop because of his remarks, apologizing to Woods afterwards. The 1998 dinner featured cheeseburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, french fries and milkshakes. Woods’ five menus have never included fried chicken and collard greens. They have been chosen by Mike Weir and José María Olazábal respectively.
The rest of Matsuyama’s menu includes sushi, chicken skewers, miso-glazed black cod and Japanese strawberry shortcake. Ben Hogan, who won the 1951 and 1953 Masters events, founded the dinner in 1952 for all champions as well as Augusta National Golf Club’s founders.