Uni Watch generally has nothing but disdain for the country club “sport” of golf. But it’s worth making an exception for the Masters, whose champion dons the coveted Green Jacket. While other tournaments also employ jackets as trophies, only the Green Jacket has the combination of heritage, brand identity, and standardization to qualify as a uniform.
Interestingly, the Green Jacket began as a de facto usher’s uni. In 1937, Augusta National’s management urged club members to wear green coats during the tournament, so that visitors requiring assistance or information could easily identify a reputable source. The tradition of presenting a Green Jacket to the Masters champion, and thereby making him an honorary club member, began with Sam Snead in 1949, at which point all previous winners were retroactively awarded jackets as well.
The single-breasted, three-button blazer is manufactured by the Cincinnati-based Hamilton Tailoring Company. The hue, originally chosen to match Augusta’s rye grass fairways, is now Pantone 342. The tournament winner wears an off-the-rack display jacket during the presentation ceremony, after which his measurements are taken for a custom-made version. In one of those typically fussy rules that make golf so annoying, Augusta members must store their jackets at the club, but the current champion is permitted to keep his until the following year’s tournament, after which he leaves it at Augusta with all the others.
Although reporters sometimes refer to a given golfer going after “his third Green Jacket” (or whatever ordinal might apply), a multiple Masters winner actually has only one jacket, unless his size changes significantly. Six-time winner Jack Nicklaus, for example, has three different Green Jackets. Uni Watch sees major potential here for a Green Jacketed diet-plan ad, but that’ll never happen: In another of Augusta’s fussy little rules, the Green Jacket can’t be used for commercial purposes.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 8, 2003