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Come for the golf, stay for the pimento cheese.

Sheri Castle

As any golf fan can tell you, April 6, 2017 marks the start of the 81st Masters Tournament. Thousands of lucky ticket holders make their pilgrimage every spring to the effusively floral fairways to get a glimpse of golf’s greatest players. Nearly as famous as the course itself is Augusta National’s concession stand, where the low prices make for the best culinary bargain in sports. The beloved pimento cheese sandwich is still only $1.50. Few will ever play well enough to put on the green blazer given to Masters champions, but anyone can shell out a buck fifty and peel back the green wrapper on one of those sandwiches.

A couple of years ago, a change in vendors resulted in a change in the pimento cheese. You’d have thought they’d mowed down every azalea along the course. Masters faithful don’t like it when you mess it with their pimento cheese.

So what’s in the signature recipe? That’s between the pimento cheese and its maker, and they’re not saying. Allegedly authentic recipes have been published in various publications, including Par 3 Tea-Time at the Masters by the Junior League of Augusta. Some people say it is a hole in one (shall we say), while others cast doubts and aspersions. Some recreations seem plausible, while some are ludicrous. Who in the world could ever think that pimento cheese should contain chopped boiled eggs?

Perhaps the issue isn’t so much what’s on the sandwich as where it’s eaten. Just as seafood never tastes as it does at the waters’ edge and French food is best when eaten within sight of the Eiffel Tower, perhaps the secret ingredient in the Masters Pimento cheese is the Masters itself. Any sandwich eaten beyond the perimeter of Augusta National will simply never measure up.

Want to make some at home?

This suggests that those in attendance should fish six quarters from their pockets and bask in a full-fledged moment of Masters tradition. The rest of us will watch from our sofas and eat our own favorite pimento cheese. It’s par for our course.