By Mark A. Upaa
The Masters Tournament (usually referred to as simply The Masters, is one of the four major championships in professional golf. Scheduled for the first full week of April, the Masters is the first major of the year, and unlike the others, it is always held at the same location, Augusta National Golf Club, a private course in the southeastern United States, in the city of Augusta, Georgia.The presentation of a single-breasted, single vent Jacket in a ‘ Masters Green’ colourway, adorned with an Augusta National Golf Club logo on the left breast pocket and brass buttons has been a tradition at the prestigeous club since 1949. Since then each Champion is presented with a green jacket by the previous year’s winner, and the case that the champion successfully defends his title, he is presented with the jacket by Augusta’s club chairman.
The tradition, like most great American culture traces its origins to England where the Augusta National Golf Club’s co-founder Bobby Jones visited the Royal Liverpool Club in 1937. The revered Wirral links course first hosted an Open Championship in 1897 and has reclaimed that honour a further 11 times since then. Jones keenly noticed that the club’s past captains all wore red blazers to distinguish them from other members when sitting for dinner.
Bobby Jones relayed this observation to Augusta’s club chairman at the time, Clifford Roberts, the club decided to introduce the green jacket as a way to distinguish members of the club during tournament week. Soon the jacket was established as a sign of the club’s exclusivity and after 12 years it was decided that a blazer would be awarded to the event’s winner with golf great Sam Snead becoming the first beholder in this new ‘Masters Champion’ format.
Originally the Jackets were purchased from the Brooks Uniform Company, New York City,” according to the Masters official website. While members were not initially enthusiastic about wearing the heavy green jacket in warm weather, adjusments were made and a few years later, a lightweight, made-to-order Jacket was available from the Club’s Golf Shop.
Every winner receives their own tailor-made jacket, the jackets by rule are not allowed to leave the Augusta National Golf Club. While the current champion does gets to keep his with him for the year of his championship, it must be returned to the club as he honours the next champion in the clubhouse during the winners’ ceremony at the conclusion of the prestigious event the following year. Although the ‘green jacket’ remains the personal property of respective winners, it is stored with other champions’ jackets in a specially designated cloakroom. A golfer who wins the event multiple times uses the same green jacket awarded upon his initial win unless he needs to be re-fitted with a new jacket.
Jack Nicklaus has the most Masters wins, with six between 1963 and 1986. Tiger Woods has won five. Palmer has won four. Five have won three titles at Augusta: Jimmy Demaret, Sam Snead, Gary Player, Nick Faldo, and Phil Mickelson. Player, from South Africa, was the first non-American player to win the tournament, in 1961; the second was Seve Ballesteros of Spain, the champion in 1980 and 1983. Tiger Woods also has the records for being the youngest ever winner, a feat he accomplished in 1997 at the age of 21. That same year he set the record for the widest margin in a win, 12-strokes. He is also the only golfer to win at Augusta in 3-seperate decades, having won in the 90’s, 2000’s and most recently in 2019.