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Why does the winner of the Masters wear a green jacket?

The winner of the Augusta Masters not only picks up some $2m in prize money, but is also awarded the iconic green jacket. We look at the garment’s origin.

AUGUSTA, GEORGIA - APRIL 04: A detail of a member's green jacket during a practice round prior to the Masters at Augusta National Golf Club on April 04, 2022 in Augusta, Georgia.   Andrew Redington/Getty Images/AFP
Andrew RedingtonAFP

Set to be played for the 86th time this week, the Masters Tournament is the first men’s major golf championship of the year, and will see Hideki Matsuyama defend his title at Augusta National Golf Club. In 2021, Matsuyama became the first man from Japan to win the event, his final round of 73 earning him victory by a one-shot margin.

As winner of the Masters, Matsuyama picked up prize money of just over $2 million, had his name engraved on the permanent Masters Trophy, which depicts the clubhouse at August National, and received a replica of the Masters Trophy. He was also given a gold medallion 3.4 inches in diameter, which likewise features a view of the clubhouse.

And, of course, the 30-year-old was awarded the famous August National green jacket.

First awarded 73 years ago

The green jacket has been given to the winner of the Masters since 1949, the 13th time the tournament was played. Sam Snead was its first recipient. The jacket was also retrospectively awarded to the champions of the 12 previous Masters.

Placed on the new champion by the previous year’s winner, it must then be returned to the Augusta National clubhouse a year later.

The only golfer who has failed to comply with this rule is Gary Player. After winning the Masters in 1961 - becoming the first non-American to claim the trophy - he left his jacket in his native South Africa the following year. Rebuked by Augusta National Director Clifford Roberts, he is said to have replied: “You can come and fetch it.”

Why was the green jacket introduced at Augusta?

While the green jacket is best known for being awarded to the winner of the Masters, it was originally introduced by Roberts and his Augusta National co-founder, former golfer Bobby Jones, to be worn only by members of the club. The jacket would make Augusta members visible to visitors, it was reasoned, allowing them to ask directions.

Jones picked up the idea of a members’ jacket from the Royal Liverpool Golf Club in the UK. On a 1927 visit to the Royal Liverpool, six years before establishing Augusta National, he learned that every club captain wore a red jacket, and liked what he saw. The colour green was chosen by Roberts, who took inspiration from the azalea bushes on the site of the Augusta course.

Masters 2022: when and how to watch

The 2022 Augusta Masters begin on Thursday 7 April 2022, with the final round scheduled for Sunday 10. In the US, ESPN and CBS have the broadcast rights to the tournament.


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