What is the Green Jacket and why are Masters champions given one?

Telegraph Sport
The winner of the Masters is awarded a green jacket  - Getty Images North America

What is presented to Masters winners?

Golf's prestigious 'Green Jacket' the award presented to the winner of The Masters: but how did this famous tradition originate?

Known today as The Masters, the Augusta National Invitational was first played in 1934. Three years later, club officials decided that the Green Jacket should be introduced as an official symbol of membership to the Augusta National golf club; an item exclusive to those invited to join.

As much as the 'Pantone 342' coloured jacket largely represented status, there were other reasons in the thought process behind its use. On a practical basis, it was agreed that when the National Invitational drew its large crowds, the spectators often required assistance or information.

The jacket was therefore seen as the ideal means of distinguishing club members, who were reliable sources of information, from the public. It was not until 1949, 15 years since the tournament's inauguration, that organisers decided to begin awarding winners of The Masters the same green jacket which, it is worth noting, did not (and still does not) grant winners honorary membership to the club.

Recipients originally claimed that the jackets were too uncomfortable to wear in the heat of Georgian Spring and have subsequently been adapted numerous times, resulting in the modern versions designed to be both lighter and cooler. The jackets have been officially produced by over a dozen companies over the years, with Cincinnati based 'Hamilton Tailoring' being the most frequent manufacturer of choice.

Danny Willett is presented with the green jacket by Jordan Spieth last year Credit: Getty Images

Who was the first recipient of the revered Green Jacket?

The winner of the 1949 tournament was Sam Snead, who became the first to receive it on this basis. Jackets were also awarded retroactively to former winners dating back to 1934, which included including golfing greats such as Byron Nelson and Jimmy Demaret. The jacket belonging to the tournament's first ever winner, Horton Smith, was sold at auction by family members for over $600,000, which is thought to be the record fee paid for a piece of golf memorabilia.

Who has won the Masters most?

  • Jack Nicklaus holds the record for most Masters tournaments, winning six between 1963 - 1986
  • Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods have each earned four jackets, with the latter setting withstanding records in the 1997 championship for the largest margin of victory (12 strokes) and becoming the youngest ever Masters winner at 21 years and 104 days
  • Jimmy Demaret, Nick Faldo and Phil Mickelson have all won the tournament three times. Also weighing in with three Masters championships are Sam Snead, the Green Jacket's first recipient and Gary Player, who broke the Augusta National club's rules in 1961 by mistakenly flying back to his native South Africa without returning the jacket within the one-year time-frame specified. 
Tiger Woods won his first green jacket in 1997 Credit: AFP

Presentation of the jacket

Winners can bask in their glory due to the fact that they are awarded two jackets, on two occasions. Unbeknown to some, the jacket presented shortly after the final hole is taken from a club member with a similar build to the winner and is returned after the ceremony, while a tailored version is prepared and presented to the champion at a later date.

Traditionally, the jacket is presented in the butler cabin by the previous year's winner to his successor and the presentation is then repeated moments later by the 18th green, in view of the spectators. In 1966, Jack Nicklaus made history by becoming the first play

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