Phil Mickelson, left, gets his Masters Green Jacket from last years winner Tiger Woods after winning the 2006 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Ga., in this April 9, 2006 file photo. / Rob Carr, AP
The green jacket is as synonymous with the Masters as springtime, azaleas and Jim Nantz talking about tradition in a soothing whisper. Annually presented to the tournament champion by the reigning victor, it's one of the most widely recognized symbols in sports.
But how did it get started? How do they instantly fit the winner? And, most importantly, why is it green?
To take the last question first: mainly because it makes more sense than a red jacket.
The tradition of the green jacket started in 1937 when Masters officials wanted club members to become more identifiable to guests. It was also said that the jackets alerted waiters at Augusta National about who was picking up the check at meals. (This is important information if you're trying to weasel out of paying next time Billy Payne or Condoleeza Rice has you to the club for dinner.)
Up until 1949, club members were the only men with green jackets. When Sam Snead won the tournament that year, he was given a jacket of his own. The tradition continues today.
To think, the most famous piece of clothing in sports was originally conceived as a crowd-control measure. It's like if the NBA started awarding bright yellow jackets to winners because of the outfits worn by security personnel or if the Academy Awards gave red velvet sport coats to winners as an homage to the ushers of yesteryear.
Other interesting facts about the green jacket:
â?¢ The Cincinnati company that makes the green jackets last ordered the necessary emerald-colored fabric in 1990. The 500-yard roll had enough material to make 200 jackets.
â?¢ Australian wool is the main component of the jacket, which is especially interesting given the Aussies historic ineptitude at Augusta.
â?¢ It takes one month and costs $250 to make each jacket, though the club won't officially confirm the price.
â?¢ Those brass buttons don't appear to signify anything, other than looking like a boss.
How does the tournament make sure the winner is presented with a green jacket that fits? Masters officials watch the leader board on Sunday and try to have a wide range of sizes available. Eventually, the victor is given a custom-made jacket with his name stitched inside. He is allowed to take it off site for his championship year. After that, the jacket remains at Augusta.
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