News & ToursApril 11, 2009

Don't just look at the jackets

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- When he arrived for the first round of his last Masters, Gary Player, whose ensembles usually look like midnight, had paired a dark green shirt with black slacks. "My son picks an outfit for me every day. I said, What's wrong with black?' " Player later explained. "He said, Do you mind having a little change of color?' Green is the color of Augusta."

Yes, it is.

Figuratively -- as in environmentally friendly -- everybody and his brother is going green these days. Literally, the Masters has had a graduate degree in the color at least since the 1930s, when members started wearing green jackets so they would be recognizable to spectators who might have a question. Starting with Sam Snead in 1949, every Masters champion has received a green jacket, which, 60 years later, is the most famous garment in sports.

The jacket is the coup de green around here, but its distinctive hue has plenty of company.

The Masters is a very tranquil place, or quite a jealous one, to cite two of the color's various meanings. Depending on the culture and the exact hue, green can symbolize safety, fertility, greed, sickness or stability.

For a week every April in this corner of Georgia, it is everywhere. I walked about the Masters for a couple of days, taking note of green in its many places and myriad shades.

It's a long list.

Greens. Loblolly pine needles. Shingo Katayama's slacks. Folding chairs, circa 1995. Fairways. Caddie caps. Greg Norman's TaylorMade golf bag. Magnolia leaves. Pars on the leader board. Fringes. The litter patrol's green sacks. Coolers on tee benches. Sandwich wrappers. Dustin Johnson's shirt. The television towers and observation stands. The second cut. Folding chairs fresh from the golf shop. Yardage books. Dogwood leaves. Danny Lee's shirt. Sprinkler heads. Crosswalks. A fake-turf beret with a tiny flagstick and ball. In honor of the occasion, my pen.

I'm sure I missed something.

-- *Bill Fields *

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