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Dawg Sports Wants To Know: Which Masters Tradition is Your Favorite?

2014 Masters Tournament - Final Round Set Number: X158031 TK4

“A Tradition Unlike Any Other.”

Even their tag line oozes familiarity, welcoming old fans and new ones alike with open arms and comfort knowing what is to come. The Masters, and the host club Augusta National, pride themselves on customs that pass on from year to year.

Make no mistake, the tournament changes most every year but usually for outreach and enjoyment of patrons. Whether they be virtual through the outstanding app, or in person with the best visitor experience at a sporting event you can imagine. At the core of those tweaks is that everyone wants to see what they have come to expect. The biggest surprise is just who wins on Sunday.

There are formal traditions, and unwritten ones. It is a voluminous list, depending on how one defines a tradition. I’m not going to pretend I’ve listed them all, and maybe I’ve even left off some significant ones. But that’s where you, Dawg Sport reader, can help. Here’s a start:

Champions Dinner. Originally called the Masters Club by Ben Hogan, it is a simple dinner held in the clubhouse the Tuesday evening before the tournament begins. It just happens to be fairly elite in company and exclusivity: only past Masters champions are invited with the exception of the Club Chairman. The defending champion gets to choose the menu, and the conversations are both confidential and undoubtedly fantastic.

Par 3 Tournament – Started in 1960, a hit-and-giggle tournament on the club’s 9 hole Par 3 course (south of the clubhouse - on the left-hand side as you enter from Washington Road). Crystal for the winner and holes-in-one, kids and significant others as caddies, just a big deep breath of fun before the pressure ramps up Thursday. No winner of the Par 3 has ever gone on to win the Masters Tournament in the same year.

The first week in April. You know the Masters is held the same time every year, but did you know why? In the early days (think 1930’s and 1940’s), the club was looking to drum up more interest. And they wanted press. So to lure national and East Coast sportswriters to cover the fledgling tournament, they gave them the perfect excuse for a rest stop heading back north after Spring Training in Florida. Like Auburn committing recruiting violations, you know its coming.

Only on CBS. It has been broadcast now 68 years on CBS, with little commercial interruption. It even has its own theme music. Jim Nantz, fresh off a red-eye from Houston and the NCAA Championship game, leads the broadcast. I don’t know what CBS has to do to keep this agreement going, but I assure you they will do it.

Skipping balls off the 16th tee pond during practice rounds. Players wow the crowds Monday-Wednesday when they play the famous.

Ceremonial tee shots/Honorary Starters. This has been going on for decades, and now includes Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Tom Watson who each hit a tee shot off #1 early Thursday morning to officially start play. But it also includes all players starting their round on #1 tee. Only the Open Championship does the same, but they benefit from northern latitudes and lots of sunlight in July. Maybe once or twice has the Masters utilized both #1 and #10 for starting player rounds, and that was due to inclement weather that caused delays.

The Green Jacket. It was originally designed to help patrons identify club members in case they needed assistance. It migrated over to the tournament champion, and is pretty much synonymous with the Masters.

Amateurs. Club and tournament founder Bobby Jones is largely considered the greatest amateur golfer in history, and he made it clear that the Masters would always have a significant amateur presence. Currently 7 amateurs are in this year’s field of 88 players - 5 automatic qualifiers and 2 special invitees.

The Crow’s Nest. A small, quaint, but exclusive lodging located in the upper floors and cupola of the main clubhouse, it is reserved for playing amateurs. The original thought was they couldn’t afford lodging elsewhere so Augusta National made accommodations especially for them.

The concessions are a tradition unto themselves. Pimento cheese is a novelty to those from northern latitudes, egg salad and a barbecue sandwich taste much better than normal when walking those hallowed corridors, and the prices can’t be beat. “A Taste of the Masters” is available for folks wanting to cater their own watch party and Masters concessions delivered to the comfort of their own home.

Azaleas are in bloom. How, and to what extent Augusta National horticulturalists retard or expedite azalea blooming is up for debate. But they get it pretty dang close every year. And the backdrop of those alongside the par 5 13th hole.

Livery. Caddies all wear full overalls/jumpsuits in white. The tournament committee wears red blazers. Yellow jumpsuits are for those helping keep litter at bay. The flags have that iconic yellow with the logo. The green of the concession stands and the grandstands. Consistency at its absolute best.

Analog. The scoreboards on the course are manually operated, with volunteers working the scoreboards and physically loading the names and numbers on placards. There are a few other tournaments, like the Open Championship, that eschew technology in the same way. But somehow the Masters just does it better.

We could do a poll - do you want a poll? - but I’d rather hear your explanations in the comments. And I think the other readers would too. Step up and tell us why this is one of the best weeks of the year. And as always...