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How the Green Jacket Became a Beloved Masters Tradition

Learn how the Green Jacket became a beloved tradition at the Masters Tournament. Explore the story behind the iconic jacket worn by golf champions.

by Jake Tingey & Judd Lyon · Updated: 5/28/23

The Masters Tournament is one of professional golf's most prestigious and highly anticipated events. Each year, the world's greatest golfers gather at the Augusta National Golf Club to compete for the title of Masters champion. As the winner dons the iconic green jacket, they join an exclusive fraternity of golf's most exceptional athletes. The green jacket has become synonymous with the Masters, representing the pinnacle of golfing achievement and a symbol of the rich history and tradition of the tournament. In this article, we will explore the origins and evolution of the Masters green jacket, tracing its journey from a humble garment to a cherished emblem of excellence in golf.

From its modest beginnings as a means to distinguish club members to its current status as one of the most sought-after prizes in the golfing world, the green jacket has woven itself into the fabric of the Masters Tournament. Over the years, it has grown significantly, serving as a testament to the skill, dedication, and perseverance required to conquer Augusta National's storied course. The story of the green jacket is one of tradition, camaraderie, and the relentless pursuit of greatness on the greens.

Key Takeaways

Early Years of the Masters and the Green Jacket

Founding of the Masters Tournament

The inception of the Masters Tournament can be traced back to 1934 when golf legends Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts founded the Augusta National Golf Club. It was initially called the Augusta National Invitation Tournament, but it was later renamed the Masters Tournament in 1939. During these early years, the green jacket had yet to become the iconic symbol of golfing excellence it is today.

Origin of the Green Jacket

The green jacket was initially designed to symbolize Augusta National Golf Club membership. Introduced in 1937, club members were encouraged to wear the green jacket during the tournament to make themselves easily identifiable to guests. This allowed visitors to seek out members for assistance or guidance, fostering a sense of camaraderie and hospitality within the club. Made from a blend of tropical-weight wool, the jacket's distinctive green hue was chosen to reflect the lush, verdant landscape of the Augusta National course.

Awarding the Green Jacket to Masters Champions

The decision to award a green jacket to the winner of the Masters Tournament came in 1949 when Sam Snead emerged victorious. As a gesture of honor and recognition, Snead was presented with the now-iconic garment. This tradition was then extended retroactively to all previous Masters champions, solidifying the green jacket's role as a symbol of golfing excellence. Over the years, the presentation of the green jacket to the Masters winner has evolved into an elaborate ceremony, capturing the imagination of golf enthusiasts worldwide and adding to the mystique of this storied tournament.

Growing Significance

As the Masters grew in prominence, so did the green jacket's significance. It became a symbol of not just Augusta National membership but of the dedication, skill, and determination required to triumph in one of golf's most challenging competitions.

Evolution of the Green Jacket Tradition

Design and Style Changes

Over the years, the design and style of the green jacket have undergone subtle changes while maintaining its core elements. Early jackets were made from a blend of tropical-weight wool, while more recent iterations utilize a lighter, more comfortable fabric. The buttons, embroidered with the Augusta National logo, have also been refined. Despite these minor alterations, the green jacket's iconic look has been preserved, ensuring its timeless appeal.

Symbol of Excellence and Prestige

The green jacket's evolution as a symbol of excellence and prestige in golf is closely tied to the legacy of the Masters Tournament itself. As the tournament's stature grew, so did the green jacket's significance. Its status as a symbol of golfing greatness was cemented by legendary champions like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Tiger Woods, whose victories at Augusta National became defining moments in their storied careers. The green jacket not only celebrates the winner's achievement but also serves as a reminder of their place in the rich history of the Masters.

Impact on Golf Culture

The impact of the green jacket tradition extends beyond the confines of Augusta National, shaping the culture of golf more broadly. Its enduring appeal to players and fans stems from its powerful symbolism and the emotions it evokes. The green jacket represents the culmination of a golfer's dreams and aspirations, embodying the passion, determination, and skill required to conquer the challenges of Augusta National. As the ultimate prize in golf, the green jacket has captured the imagination of generations of golf enthusiasts and inspired countless aspiring players to pursue their own dreams of Masters glory.

The green jacket tradition has evolved alongside the Masters Tournament, adapting to changes in the golfing world while maintaining its iconic status. As a symbol of excellence, prestige, and the enduring spirit of golf, the green jacket remains an integral part of the Masters experience, cherished by players and fans alike.

The Green Jacket Ceremony

Significance in the Masters Tournament

The Green Jacket Ceremony is an integral part of the Masters Tournament, marking the crowning moment for the new champion. Held in the historic Butler Cabin and later replicated on the putting green for spectators, the ceremony is a highly anticipated event that captures the attention of golf enthusiasts worldwide. The presentation of the green jacket not only signifies the winner's achievement but it also carries the weight of the tournament's history and tradition.

Role of the Previous Year's Winner

One of the most poignant aspects of the Green Jacket Ceremony is the role of the previous year's winner in presenting the jacket to the new champion. This tradition emphasizes the continuity of excellence and the passing of the torch from one generation of champions to the next. The emotional impact on both the presenter and the recipient is palpable as the previous year's winner acknowledges the end of their reign, and the new champion embraces the magnitude of their achievement.

Evolution of the Ceremony

While the core elements of the Green Jacket Ceremony have remained consistent throughout the years, there have been some changes to its format and presentation. In the early years of the Masters Tournament, the ceremony was a more intimate affair, taking place within the confines of the Augusta National Golf Clubhouse. As the tournament's popularity grew, the ceremony was moved to the Butler Cabin and eventually replicated on the putting green to accommodate the increasing number of spectators.

The enduring importance of the Green Jacket Ceremony lies in its ability to connect the present with the past and to celebrate the achievements of the Masters champions. As a testament to the relentless pursuit of excellence and the triumph of skill and determination, the Green Jacket Ceremony remains an iconic and cherished tradition within the Masters Tournament and the game of golf.

The Green Jacket Beyond the Masters

Impact on the Wider Golf World and Popular Culture

The legacy of the green jacket extends far beyond the boundaries of Augusta National and the Masters Tournament. Its iconic status has permeated the wider golf world and popular culture, solidifying its place as a symbol of excellence and a coveted item for collectors and enthusiasts. As the ultimate prize in professional golf, the green jacket has become synonymous with the sport, often used as a visual representation of golf in various media and cultural contexts.

Iconic Symbol and Coveted Collectible

The green jacket's status as an iconic symbol of golf has led to its emergence as a highly sought-after collectible. Authentic green jackets belonging to former Masters champions or Augusta National members occasionally appear at auctions or in private collections, fetching considerable sums and generating significant interest from golf enthusiasts and collectors. The rarity of these jackets and their connection to the storied history of the Masters Tournament further enhance their appeal and mystique.

Cultural Contexts Outside of Golf

The green jacket has also found its way into various cultural contexts outside of golf, including film, television, and fashion. Movies such as "Happy Gilmore" and "The Legend of Bagger Vance" feature the Masters Tournament and the green jacket as central plot points, showcasing their significance in the world of golf. Television shows and documentaries often reference the green jacket when discussing the sport, and its iconic design has even inspired fashion trends in golf attire and mainstream clothing.


The green jacket's legacy extends far beyond the Masters Tournament, impacting the wider golf world and popular culture. The Par 3 Contest and Champions Dinner Celebration are other examples of cherished Masters traditions that complement the Green Jacket's enduring legacy. As an iconic symbol of golf and a coveted collectible, the green jacket has transcended the boundaries of the sport, becoming an enduring emblem of excellence and tradition in various cultural contexts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Explore answers to frequently asked questions about the Masters Green Jacket

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