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Spending time with golf's most iconic 'trophy'

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – It is a historic twist of fate that the original green jackets, which were purchased from Brooks Uniform Co. in New York, were considered too heavy and quickly fell out of favor with the members at Augusta National.

By comparison, during Adam Scott’s victory tour across Australia last year the iconic green jacket represented the metaphorical release of 77 years of weight that had rested on an entire nation’s shoulders.

The claret jug may have more tales to tell and the U.S. Open trophy may stand as the most hard-fought award in golf, but the single breasted, single vent jacket awarded to each year’s Masters champion is a reward that defies hyperbole, and it seems even gravity.

Ever since Sam Snead became the first champion to slip into the green jacket after winning the 1949 Masters, the coveted jacket has emerged as a singular symbol of achievement in golf.

There’s not a cooler line in all of sports – Oh, this? It’s just something I picked up at Augusta National.

There is a reverence for the green jacket that has become a part of its lore.

“The way I am, having such respect for the facility and the tournament I was probably a little too low key with it. If I win again I will probably do a little more with it,” said Trevor Immelman, the 2008 champion. “Taking it out to places and showing them and giving people a bit more access to it.”


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Zach Johnson, who preceded Immelman to the Masters closet, was similarly guarded with where he took the jacket.

“I probably didn’t wear it enough. I got to wrap my baby up in it, which was cool,” Johnson said.

By comparison, Scott was downright effusive with his size 40 prize, and who could blame him considering Australia’s drought at the year’s first major championship.

Last fall, Scott returned to Australia for a four-event swing that turned into a green jacket tour through Down Under. At the Australian PGA officials held a “green day” for fans and competitors to honor Scott’s achievement and the defending champion even signed autographs while wearing the green jacket.

“Charl (Schwartzel, the 2011 champion) and Adam did a great job taking it around. It’s fantastic,” Immelman said. “I didn’t give people as much access as those two guys have because they have done it respectfully and it’s been very well received.”

Of course, the guidelines for when and where the green jacket can be worn have changed, particularly after Johnson’s victory in 2007.  Call it the “Zach rules” because following his Masters triumph officials became a little more hands on when it came to the jacket.

“I have no garment bag. I’m going to New York City at 6 a.m. (on Monday following his victory). I cover it up with a trash bag. I had nothing and I don’t really just want to, ‘Hey, this is my green jacket,’” Johnson said.

“I put it on in Times Square and I wore it with jeans. So, a no-no on the bag, a no-no on the jeans. When (Immelman) won the next year, he has this nice garment bag and I believe they give a brief description of what you should do and shouldn’t do.”

Champions are advised to only wear the green jacket at golf-oriented events, like charity outings, corporate events and at golf clubs.

“Wearing it to Chick-fil-A, that isn’t going to happen,” Johnson said.

Mostly, people just want to touch the jacket, or in rare instances put it on. “Whenever someone came over to the house they would be the one wear it, not me,” Immelman said.

“If there is a 40 reg in the house they want to put it on,” Johnson said. “Couple of guys snuck in there. They want to touch it, they want to feel it, they want to put it on.”

Champions are allowed to keep the jacket for a year and there is no return policy. A defending champion will normally wear the spoils one last time during Tuesday’s Champions Dinner and again when they put the green jacket on this year’s champion on Sunday afternoon in Butler Cabin.

That is, of course, unless he goes back-to-back, which was the option Scott was most keen on.

“I’ve really got this thing in my head that I’m quite determined to not leave it here. I really have enjoyed having it with me all the time,” Scott smiled on Sunday. “I probably haven’t taken advantage of wearing it out enough. Maybe (I was) too respectful. I think I am very determined to take it with me again next Sunday.”

Freed from the weight of the Aussie duck, which is what Australian’s called their winless streak at Augusta National, Scott seems plenty strong enough to shoulder the jacket for another 12 months.