When the winner of this year’s Masters Tournament walks off Augusta National Golf Course this afternoon, he will receive a green blazer that holds a unique place among sports’ most iconic memorabilia.
Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods are just some of the legends who have donned “the green jacket,” as it is known among sports fans. This year, a healthy Woods will compete against Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and other stars will challenge defending champion Sergio Garcia for the prize.
For a pro golfer, aside from a share of the $11 million prize pool, earning a green jacket at Augusta National is a transformational accomplishment, according to Bob Dorfman, a sports sponsorship expert and creative director at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco.
“For a golfer, it’s the ultimate sign of arrival and success. It’s a triumph in the most major of the majors. It validates a player’s reputation as a winner, and is easily worth seven figures or more in off-the-course earnings from equipment sponsorships, ad deals, speaking engagements, appearance fees and the like,” Dorfman told FOX Business. “And the fact that the Masters is an international event with entrants from across the globe makes the green jacket even more valuable to a golfer’s brand.”
Like many elements of the notoriously secretive Augusta National, little is known about how the blazer is manufactured. The golf club’s website links to a 2012 article by the Augusta Chronicle, which lists the jacket’s estimated production cost at $250 and production time of about one month.
Cincinnati-based Hamilton Tailoring has produced the club’s green jackets every year since 1967. But much like the golf club, the company is mum about most of the details.
“We can’t talk about it,” Company Chairman Ed Heimann told the Cincinnati Enquirer last year. “I wish I could tell you more. It would be good for our business, but I can’t.”
According to the Chronicle, the company uses about two-and-a-half yards of wool per jacket. The wool is dyed with Pantone 342 green and stitched with the winner’s name. Tournament officials purportedly guess at the winner’s jacket size. The victorious golfer may wear the jacket anywhere he likes for one year, but then must restrict its use to inside the club’s grounds.
“The secrecy only adds to the jacket’s mystique,” Dorfman explained.
Masters champions are considered members of a fraternity – the previous year’s winner helps the new winner put on his jacket at the final ceremony. That often leads to some awkwardness when past champions who fall just short of a repeat victory placing the jacket on their opponent’s shoulders.
“It’s not your typical trophy, medal or jumbo-sized check – it’s a uniquely iconic symbol of victory in the golf world’s most prestigious event,” Dorfman said. “Few victory traditions in sports have as strong a cachet as the donning of the Masters green jacket. Only the Indy 500 milk chug, the Heisman Trophy pose, the Olympic medal ceremony, the Stanley Cup kiss and the NCAA March madness net-cutting can compare.”