Do Masters Champions Get to Keep the Green Jacket?

Jose Maria Olazabal in the Green Jacket
Jose Maria Olazabal dons the Green Jacket after winning the 1994 Masters. Steve Munday/Getty Images

The Masters champion receives the traditional Green Jacket at the victory ceremony following his win. But does the Masters champion get to keep the Green Jacket?

The answer is "Yes ... and sort-of."

Masters Champs Keep the Green Jacket for One Year

First, the "Yes."

The morning after Phil Mickelson won the 2010 Masters, he rolled into the drive-through at a Krispy Kreme in Augusta, Ga., children in tow, to pick up the family's morning doughnuts.

And he was wearing the Green Jacket. A photo the Krispy Kreme employees took went viral.

Mickelson had free reign to wear his Green Jacket wherever he pleased for the following year. All the winners of the Masters Tournament get to keep the Green Jacket for one year, take it home with them - take it anywhere they please for that one year.

But: When the defending champ returns to Augusta National the following year, he returns his jacket to the club.

After a Year, the Green Jacket Stays at Augusta National

Which brings us to "sort-of." Once the defending champ returns his Green Jacket to the clubhouse after a year, the champion only has "visitation rights," so to speak. The jacket is considered his, and when he visits Augusta National at any point thereafter, he can retrieve and wear his jacket. But the jacket isn't allowed to leave the Augusta National premises.

The official website of The Masters, Masters.com, explains a little further how the jacket is matched to the golfer:

"Near the conclusion of the Masters, several Jackets are selected which could fit the possible winner during the presentation ceremony. The winner will have his measurements taken at the Club's Golf Shop or may provide measurements so that a custom made Green Jacket can be tailored. Typically, a multiple winner will have only one Green Jacket unless his size drastically changes."

Most champs wear their jacket during return visits to the clubhouse; for example, during the annual Champions Dinner.

Over the years, only a handful of winners' Green Jackets have "escaped" the grounds of Augusta National. However, some Masters champions have had replica jackets made in order to have one to keep and enjoy year-round while the original remains at the club.

The One Green Jacket That the Club Knowingly Let Get Away

There is one winner of the tournament who has gotten away with keeping his original Green Jacket, however. When Gary Player won the 1961 Masters, he became the first international winner of the tournament. He took the jacket home, placed it into a plastic, protective cover and hung it in a closet.

When Player returned to Augusta National in 1962, he forgot to bring the jacket back. It was only after Player had returned home to South Africa that Augusta National director Clifford Roberts realized Player's jacket wasn't in the clubhouse. He called Player.

‘I said, ‘Well, you can come and fetch it,’ ” Player said to Roberts, he told the New York Times. Roberts laughed, as if realizing he wasn't getting the jacket back, then told Player, " ... in all seriousness, please don’t ever wear it in public.’ ”

Player still has that jacket at home, but has never worn it in public.

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