It’s certainly no fashion statement: a box-cut jacket with brass buttons and a pocket emblem, dyed in a color that bridles at pairing. Nevertheless the green jacket is the most coveted piece of apparel in the sports world. You can legitimately wear it in two ways: become one of the 300 or so members of Augusta National Golf Club or win the Masters, its annual tournament.
Just in case either happens to you, it’s best to brush up on some background and style tips. At the 1937 Masters, club chairman Clifford Roberts made the uniform a fixture for members, who are expected to wear their jackets during the tournament to identify themselves to spectators seeking information. When hosting guests in the clubhouse, it also lets the waiters know who gets the check. Should you win, the previous year’s champion will help you into a close-fitting jacket borrowed from a member. (Beware: they blew it on Jack Nicklaus’s first victory, and he looked like he was in a tent.)
After the hoopla, you’ll be measured for your own jacket, made by Hamilton Tailoring Co. in Cincinnati. The jacket doesn’t come with carte blanche to parade your golfing prowess. You keep it for a year, but are expected to wear it only at golf-related events. (Phil Mickelson’s wearing his to a Krispy Kreme drive-through was frowned upon.)
At the next Masters, you return your jacket to the club, where it’s kept in a special room. You log it out (and back in) when you visit. Gary Player got a stern phone call from Roberts when he kept his too long. The uniform hasn’t always been uniform.
The original heavyweight-wool, hopsack version proved too steamy. Subsequent makers lightened the cloth, and, in the 1990s, Hamilton settled on a wool/poly blend from a Georgia mill. The buttons are stamped in Connecticut, and the emblem made in North Carolina. Those who wish to splurge can turn to Henry Poole, of London’s Savile Row, who custom makes jackets using wool serge from a Yorkshire mill.
You’ll get working sleeve buttonholes and the option for extra room to hide accessories like a cell phone or a cigar case. But don’t expect to dictate the design. The uniform is strictly a three-button (remember, only button at the middle), natural-fit jacket with notch lapels, flap pockets and a single vent. Accessorizing with the jacket’s color can be as challenging as Augusta’s greens. It’s a teal-like shade described as Pantone No. 342.
If you’re wearing a green tie, be careful to match precisely. Dark blue stripes may be a better option. Khaki pants will appear muddy, so go lighter or pick black or dark blue. Of course, there is another path to a green jacket—buying one. Green Auctions sold the one awarded to the first Masters winner, Horton Smith, for $682,229 in 2013.