1949 Masters: Green jacket takes hold

March, 17, 2011
03/17/11
10:07
AM ET

The Masters was 15 years into its existence, in its 13th playing at Augusta National, when the club's leaders decided to award the winner of the tournament more than prize money and a trophy.

A win at the Masters also meant receiving a green jacket.

Never could they have dreamed that it would become one of sport's most iconic victory symbols.

Augusta National members began wearing a green coat in 1937, just five years after the club's opening. They were urged to buy and wear the jacket during the tournament so spectators could identify them.

Masters Top 25 Moment -- No. 18

The tradition of awarding a green jacket to the champion began with the 1949 Masters, won by Sam Snead. After shooting a second straight 67 on the weekend to win by three over Johnny Bulla and Lloyd Mangrum, Snead slipped into the green coat for the first of three times.

According to the club, it is customary that the previous year's winner presents the green jacket to the new champion and helps him into it. When Jack Nicklaus in 1966 became the first player to defend his title, club founder Bobby Jones recommended that the Golden Bear do the honors himself.

Only two other times has a player defended his Masters title -- Nick Faldo in 1990 and Tiger Woods in 2002. In each instance, the club chairman at the time (Hord Hardin for Faldo, Hootie Johnson for Woods) helped him slip into the jacket.

The champion is allowed to take the jacket home with him for the next year, and then returns it to the club, where it is stored. Whenever he visits, he is required to wear it to official club functions.

For an interactive timeline of classic moments in Masters history, check out Masters.com.

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com
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