Well, we have to admit—this is a tough one even for us. Both occur in the spring, both involve copious amounts of ethanol, both consist of highly-trained athletes at the top of their game, and both involve . . . well, let’s just call them “gentleman’s wagers” to keep that meddling gaming commissioner off our back. Nevertheless, on this issue we’re going to take a strong position, although keep in mind, this is just one strikingly handsome shirt blog’s opinion. To make our case, however, a little background information may be appropriate.
First, you have the Kentucky Derby, held each year at Churchill Downs in Louisville. The race does have some serious history behind it, as the first one was held in 1875, in front of a crowd of some 10,000 spectators. In fact, it was Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark, Jr.—the grandson of William Clark, of the Lewis and Clark Expedition fame—who organized the Louisville Jockey Club and inaugurated the first race. Designated for 3-year-old thoroughbreds, the race was initially set at 1.5 miles, although it was changed in 1896 to 1.25 miles, where it has remained ever since.
Given the race’s location in the heart of bourbon country, the mint julep has achieved iconic status among spectators. Lesser-known fare like burgoo stew is also a perennial favorite. Big hats abound, particularly in the expensive box seats in “Millionaire’s Row,” and a rousing rendition of “My Old Kentucky Home” accompanies the initial parade of horses around the grandstands. The race itself, however, only lasts around two minutes, meaning that the actual excitement is, a bit like a body shot of Fireball taken off a co-ed in the infield, short but sweet. And yes, things do tend to get a little rowdy.
Admittedly, the Masters is not quite as old as the Kentucky Derby—it was first held in 1934, on a new course created by Bobby Jones in Augusta, Georgia. Gene Sarazen’s “shot heard ‘round the world” in 1935 helped bring attention to the tournament, and it has been played every year since—except during the war years, when the course was used instead to breed cattle and turkeys. But when it comes to traditions, the Masters has plenty, from the fabled Green Jacket to the Champion’s Dinner.
As for spectators, rather than the boisterous outdoor atmosphere of the Kentucky Derby, the event feels more like a party at a private club, where some of the best golfers in the world just happen to be playing. Pimento cheese sandwiches washed down with plenty of cold keg beer help lend the entire affair an air of extreme fun coupled with pleasant civility. And best of all, the festivities go on for a solid four days, while the best part of the Kentucky Derby only lasts for one.
And last time we checked, keg beer plus sun dresses divided by pimento cheese multiplied by four does indeed equal fun. The math does not lie.
So while we’re tremendous fans of both, we’ll go with the Masters. But hey, like we said—that’s just one strikingly handsome shirt blog’s opinion.