The Masters: Unveiling Golf's Green Jacket Legacy

The Masters: Unveiling Golf's Green Jacket Legacy

Most golf tournaments have a nice trophy waiting for the winner at the end, and while the Masters is no different in that regard, its participants look forward to receiving a different prize even more than the trophy: the famous green jacket. The winner of the Masters is typically dressed in the green jacket by the previous champion, signifying a changing of the guard. How did the green jacket come about, do players get to keep it and how does Augusta National Golf Club make sure they have a jacket in the right size? All those questions and more are answered below as we explore the green jacket's legacy and lore.

The Green Jacket's Origins

The idea for the green jacket at Augusta dates back to 1930 when American golfer Bobby Jones was invited to dine at Royal Liverpool after winning the 1930 British Open. Jones was impressed by the red jackets worn by British captains and wanted to incorporate something similar back home. When Jones and Clifford Roberts co-founded Augusta National Golf Club in 1932, they decided the club's members would wear green jackets to distinguish themselves.

Green Jackets at the Masters

The Masters at Augusta began play in 1934, but there was no association between the Masters and the green jacket until 1937 when the club started having members wear the green jacket at the tournament so fans could find reliable sources of information. Twelve years later in 1949, the tradition of giving the green jacket to the winner of the Masters began, as winning the tournament would make one an honorary member. The first Masters champion to be adorned in the green jacket this way was Sam Snead, but Augusta also awarded retroactive green jackets to all nine of the men who won the Masters prior to Snead. The green jacket given to the very first Masters champion, Horton Smith, went missing for nearly eight decades before resurfacing and being auctioned off in 2013 -- it had been hanging in a closet the whole time.

The Ceremonial Green Jacket

Fans who watch the Masters trophy ceremony see the green jacket get passed on from the previous champion to the new champion, but what happens in the event of a repeat winner, like Tiger Woods in 2002? For such cases, the Augusta National president gives the green jacket to the returning champion. The first instance of a repeat Masters winner getting the green jacket in such fashion was Jack Nicklaus when he repeated as champion in 1966. Nicklaus went on to finish with a record six victories at the Masters, one more than Woods currently has.

The green jacket featured in the ceremony isn't the one that the champion gets to keep for good. Instead, that jacket must be returned to Augusta National before the start of the following year's Masters, while the winner is presented with a replica green jacket of his own. Numerous green jackets of various sizes are stored at Augusta National, and as the Masters draws to a close, the club begins to prepare jackets matching the sizes of the top contenders to ensure a correct jacket is ready to go for the ceremony.

Top 2024 Green Jacket Contenders

Jon Rahm became the 55th different Masters champion to wear a green jacket with his 2023 victory. The third-ranked Spaniard will be going for a second one at the 2024 Masters, as will 2022 Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, who holds the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking. The man who finished second to Scheffler in 2022, Rory McIlroy, would love to add a green jacket to his wardrobe. A win at Augusta would complete the career Grand Slam for the second-ranked McIlroy, who would become just the sixth golfer ever to accomplish that feat. Wyndham Clark is looking to become just the second man since 1935 to earn the green jacket in his first appearance at the Masters, a feat Fuzzy Zoeller accomplished in 1979. Clark burst onto the scene with a win at the 2023 US Open, and the 30-year-old American has climbed to fourth in the rankings.

Fifth-ranked Xander Schauffele is still searching for his first career major win at age 30. He came close at the 2019 Masters, tying for second with Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka as Tiger Woods turned back the clock to capture his first major win since 2008 by one stroke. Woods is in the field again in 2024, but Tiger probably doesn't have another miracle in him. If Woods were to win a sixth green jacket in 2024, he would tie Nicklaus for the most all-time. Woods doesn't rank all that highly in RotoWire's Major Power Rankings: 2024 Masters Field, but there are plenty of potential contenders for the green jacket beyond Tiger and the top five golfers in the rankings. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sasha Yodashkin
Sasha has been contributing NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB and Tennis content to RotoWire since 2015, with an emphasis on DFS. He is a huge New York sports fan who has been playing fantasy sports since middle school.
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