The Green Jacket is a symbol of honor, civility, and tradition, and is synonymous with the Masters Tournament and Augusta National Golf Club. Its history goes back to the founding of the Club by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, and is steeped in tradition and protocol that has been shaped over time.
In the world of sport, brightly colored and tailored clothes have a long history, dating back to the 19th century when jackets were first worn to designate team affiliation in competition. The Green Jacket, however, has become one of the most recognizable symbols for the game of golf, representing the spirit of the Augusta National Golf Club and the honor of the Masters champion.
The first Green Jackets were made by the Brooks Uniform Company in New York City in 1937 for members of Augusta National Golf Club to wear during the Masters to allow patrons to easily identify and seek out assistance during the Tournament. After winning the 1949 Masters, Sam Sneed became the first Masters winner to be presented the Green Jacket and honorary membership to Augusta National Golf Club. Since then, each year at the conclusion of the Tournament, the previous champion will participate in the Jacket ceremony for the new Masters champion.
The traditions and protocol surrounding the Green Jacket have taken shape over time. The current Masters winner is the only person who may remove the Jacket from the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club during the year as defending champion. It’s during this victory-lap year where we will see a Green Jacket pop up courtside, on late-night TV or in the boarding area of an airport. After the year’s reign, the Jacket of each Masters champion remains in the Champions Locker Room until the time of the Tournament where it can again be worn at Augusta National with pride.
The design of the Green Jacket is classically American: a three-button, notch lapel with a single vent. The color is Masters Green (Pantone 342), the cloth is a tropical wool, and they are made in the United States. Each jacket has gold buttons, embossed with the Augusta National logo, and an embroidered patch with the logo on the left breast pocket. The cloth was heavier in earlier versions of the Green Jacket, and the shoulder was less structured. The patch design was also different, with “ANGC” displayed above the Augusta National logo. However, the Jacket has evolved slightly over time, following the guiding principle of continuous improvement at Augusta National.
The Green Jacket has transcended its physical object to represent something bigger. It has become an enduring icon of a champion, and of civility, manners, and tradition. While the physical object has evolved, the significance of what a Green Jacket represents has remained rooted in the values of Augusta National and the spirit of the Masters. The Green Jacket is a symbol that has come to represent one of the best weeks of the year, when fathers and mothers, with their sons or daughters, and friends and families, come together to watch the gathering of the greatest players on earth in Augusta, Georgia.