PGA Champions Dinner Involves Not Just Meals, But Gifts

PGA Championship - Wanamaker Trophy
Winning this, the Wanamaker Trophy, means selecting the menu and passing out gifts at the following year's PGA Champions Dinner. Photo courtesy of Whistling Straits

The Masters' Champions Dinner is very well-known among golfers, and has been for a long time. Every year golf media outlets fight for the scoop on what the defending Masters champion will serve at the meal. You can find articles that go in-depth in describing the menus at each Masters dinner - such as our own roundup of Masters Champions Dinner menus.

The PGA Champions Dinner? Not so much. It's been around for a long time, too, but hardly anyone (outside of the PGA Championship winners who attend the dinner) noticed until recently.

But fans are starting to notice, and the golf media is starting to hunt down those PGA Champions Dinner menus, too. For example, here are some of the more recent menus:

PGA Champions Dinner Menus

Jason Day, 2016: Mixed green salad, grilled prime rib-eye steak, mashed potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, chocolate molten lava cake with vanilla ice cream.

Rory McIlroy, 2015: Roasted vegetable and lentil soup, Little Gem salad, duo of smoked beef tenderloin and arctic char, parsnip puree, braised sweet chard, roasted cipolinni onions, graham cracker creameaux, flourless chocolate cake, butter cookie with toasted marshmallow.

Jason Dufner, 2014: Roasted beet and belle chevre salad; fried green tomatoes with pimiento cheese and jumbo lump crab; shrimp and grits; filet mignon with skillet sweet potatoes; cast-iron brownie for dessert.

Rory McIlroy, 2013: Goat cheese and beet root salad, duet of Irish beef tenderloin, sticky toffee pudding.

Keegan Bradley, 2012: Maine lobster, filet mignon, corn on the cob, ice cream sundae.

Martin Kaymer, 2011: Kaymer had Christmas in August - a traditional German Christmas meal of goose, knodel and red cabbage. (Knodel is a dumpling-like item made of potato or bread.)

Y.E. Yang, 2010: Bulgogi, a dish built around beef slices marinated in Korean barbecue sauce; plus a noodle salad, fried halibut, rice cakes.

Padraig Harrington, 2009: Leek and potato soup, smoked salmon, cabbage salad with bacon, Irish beef stew, grilled salmon, Irish whiskey cake, cheesecake.

It's difficult to find menus going back farther, but in 2004 Shaun Micheel served Rendezvous Ribs flown in from Memphis.

Gift-Giving By Dinner Hosts

But the PGA Championship winner doesn't just select a menu for the dinner, he's also responsible for passing out gifts.

Imagine: You win the PGA Championship, and as a reward you have to buy gifts for all the previous PGA winners! (At least those who show up for the dinner.)

Bradley, for example, gave Boston Red Sox jersey tops with the golfer's name on the back; the number was the year in which each golfer won the PGA (so Tiger Woods' number was eight digits long?).

Kaymer gave a Swiss army knife to each golfer - surely a very nice one with a medallion or nameplate attached noting its significance - plus a "beauty case" for each golfer's wife.

The golf auction website once tried to auction the dinner gift presented by Jack Nicklaus when he hosted the dinner in 1974: a small metal bowl, or cup, with a medallion attached noting it was for the Champions Dinner. I say "tried" to auction because the cup didn't sell.

But there have also been larger items given out by dinner hosts. Davis Love III gave every past champ in attendance a pair of boots.

But the prize for coolest gift goes to Micheel who, when he hosted the PGA Champions Dinner in 2004, gave every past champ in attendance an Epiphone Les Paul Studio electric guitar.