Memorial Tournament milkshakes a tradition like no other
DUBLIN, Ohio — It’s a tradition like no other.
And it’s not even the Masters.
It’s the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club, where the players are as drawn to the hand-made milkshakes in the clubhouse as they are to legendary founder and tournament host Jack Nicklaus.
The first Memorial was played in 1976 and won by Roger Maltbie, who defeated Hale Irwin in a playoff and took home the $40,000 winner’s check. Knowing Maltbie’s love for food and beverage, he undoubtedly downed a few milkshakes along the way during the week.
Since ’76, when Nicklaus came up with the concept based on “giving the guys whatever they’d like,’’ the milkshakes have become all the rage at Muirfield Village.
“It just happened,’’ Nicklaus told The Post. “We always tried to take care of everybody and somebody decided, ‘How about a milkshake?’ ’’
Except no one was asking that question last week during the Workday Charity Open event that was played at Muirfield Village.
By design of the PGA Tour, no milkshakes were made during the Workday event out of deference to the treats being reserved as part of the Memorial Tournament tradition.
The only milkshake that was made during Workday tournament week was at the very end, when 23-year-old Collin Morikawa, who’d never been to Muirfield Village before, was handed one along with the winner’s trophy and $1.12 million check on the 18th green after he defeated Justin Thomas in a scintillating three-hole playoff.
“That was planned,’’ Nicklaus said. “One milkshake all week — to the winner.’’
Morikawa, who’d heard about the Muirfield milkshake tradition and was disappointed that they weren’t being served, was taken aback when he was given one on the 18th green.
“It was the best-tasting milkshake I’ve ever had,’’ Morikawa told The Post. “They had it right behind my trophy. I heard from everyone I played with or practiced with about the milkshakes, and they didn’t have them last week. I was waiting for one this week [at the Memorial]. So, it was a surprise to get one at 18. It’s probably the best thing I could have had, because I was definitely hungry and thirsty after that playoff.
“I’d heard all about the tradition. When I first stepped on property, the locker room guys were saying, ‘Oh, sorry, no milkshakes this week.’ I’ve already had a couple this week.’’
According to Nicholas LaRocca, the general manager of the club for the past 23 years, the Buckeye, which is a combination of peanut butter and chocolate flavors, is the “No. 1 favorite’’ among what he described as the “infinity’’ of flavor combinations.
“It started in 1976, and it stuck,’’ LaRocca told The Post. “From there in the world of golf, we’re known for having the best milkshake on the PGA Tour. It’s become a Muirfield Village tradition. The players enjoy the milkshakes all week. The only way you get a milkshake is if you’re a club member, a player or have access to the clubhouse during the tournament week.’’
Morikawa said he had “no clue’’ a milkshake would be part of the privilege of victory last Sunday.
“It was the one they made all week, so I was very, very lucky to have it,’’ he said.
Morikawa said his favorite flavor of Oreo, but the Buckeye he was given on Sunday was “awesome.’’
“I like the Buckeye, but I’m a vanilla malt guy,’’ he said. “That was my lunch today — a vanilla malt milkshake.’’
LaRocca said the number of milkshakes made during tournament week is “one of those classified items we keep tucked under the vest, just an internal number for us to have some fun with.’’
Nicklaus said that every tournament year “we’ve exceeded 1,000 during the week.’’
That’s what made last week such a tease for the players in the Workday field who’ve played Memorial before.
“The [PGA] Tour asked us not to do the milkshakes last week, to keep it a Memorial week tradition, keep the two weeks totally separate — like the golf course conditions were different, the milkshake tradition was different,’’ LaRocca said. “A lot of the guys wanted the milkshakes last week, so our joke all week was, ‘Well, play well on Sunday.’ ’’
Moriwaka did just that, and it added immensely to the spoils of victory.
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