The Masters golf tournament is full of pomp and circumstance. It is golf, after all, so we’re not that surprised there are ancient traditions and customs that keep this best-in-class sporting event above par. But there’s one tradition we find particularly interesting: this whole Green Jacket thing. (Yes those capital letters are on purpose.) What’s the deal with the jacket? Well, we did a bit of digging, and found some fun tidbits to share.
5 Green Jacket fun facts
1. There are very specific rules about wearing the jacket.
Yep, that’s right. You can’t just wear this coveted article of outerwear whenever you feel like it. Winners can’t even really keep theirs! Only first-time winners are allowed to remove their jacket from club grounds, and then only for the first 12 months after their win. After a year, each jacket is kept permanently in the Champions Locker room and is only worn during Masters week, strictly within the confines of Augusta National. In a recent change, winners are now presented with a replica jacket they can keep, but why not the real thing?
2. The color green is inspired by, you guessed it: plants 🌱
The idea of a members’ jacket was the brainchild of the great Bobby Jones. While on a trip to Royal Liverpool in 1927, he was impressed by the red hunting jackets worn by former captains of the club and wanted something to “class up” American golf. When Augusta National opened in January 1933, he floated the idea to business partner Clifford Roberts. The only issue was the color. Red, yellow, and even ‘Georgia peach’ were considered, but dismissed. Then, while he was out walking, he was captured by the leaves on the azalea bushes on the former Fruitland Nursery site. Known as “verdant green,” the jacket choice was made, and the rest is history. As for the official name for the green color, it’s simply listed as ‘Pantone 342’.
3. However, a few winners have broken the “rules”
Some rules are just made to be broken. 😉 Three Masters winners have committed jacket rule no-no’s. Three-time champ Sir Nick Faldo wore his on a few TV interviews after his first win in 1989. Oops. This was, of course, frowned upon, but the story goes, he promised to bring the jacket back, unlike Seve Ballesteros, who apparently straight up refused to return his in 2002 when asked to do so by Chairman, Hootie Johnson. In 1961, the first non-American winner of the Masters, Gary Player, was telephoned in South Africa by Clifford Roberts, admonishing him for not leaving his jacket at Augusta. Supposedly unaware of his heinous crime, he said, “Fine, Mr. Roberts, if you want it, come and fetch it!” It’s unknown whether good ol’ Cliff ever did, but our guess is that blazer is floating around somewhere in South Africa. Given all this fuss over these blazers, it’s pretty ridiculously amazing that former New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey somehow owned a jacket (that he once lent to Jack Nicklaus, of all people) and is apparently buried in it. Maybe there are no “below ground” rules?
4. It’s illegal to sell the jacket
In 1994, a bona fide Green Jacket turned up at a Toronto thrift shop. Crazy, right?!? It was discovered by a Canadian journalist who immediately recognized the distinctive logo, and he bought it for a whopping $5. The jacket was resold in April 2017 by Florida-based Green Jacket Auctions, and get this: It went for $139,000. Augusta National was obviously less than pleased, having trademarked the phrase ‘Green Jacket’ in 2010. (Yeah, they’re pretty serious about this jacket.) So Augusta National sued in 2017 to prevent the sale of a champion’s Green Jacket by Green Jacket Auctions. At the time, three former champions’ jackets were up for sale online. Whoops…
(Epilogue: As of early 2019, the case was dropped.)
5. The jackets were cut from the same cloth until 2012
Perhaps as a nod to the idea that golf champions are all cut from the same cloth (or maybe we just made that up because it sounded good), every new Green Jacket was apparently cut from the same 500-yard roll of wool purchased in 1990 by Ed Heimann, Chairman of Hamilton Tailoring. Apparently this single roll of wool made 200 jackets until 2012, when the admission of female members made a reorder necessary. However, it remains unknown whether any changes were made to the actual pattern of said jacket. So this detail, like many of the other jacket-related nuggets, remains a mystery.
Want to dip into another Masters mystery? Check out the surprising history of the famous Augusta National pimento cheese sandwich.