Everything about the Masters is steeped in tradition. From Amen Corner to Butler Cabin, there are countless landmarks or parts of Augusta National Club that add to the growing lore of first PGA major. The Green Jacket is no exception. It is bestowed on winners of the Masters each spring, usually by the previous year's winner, ever since 1949.
The Green Jacket ranks high in the pantheon of notable championship traditions. It keeps company with these other famous trophies and traditions:
1. Gold Medal/National Anthem (Summer & Winter Olympics):
Nothing can come close to the tradition of winning an event at the Olympics because so much national pride is at stake. When an athlete ascends the awards podium, gets his medal draped around his neck, and hears his country's national anthem played, there is rarely a dry eye among these champions. It is the most meaningful tradition in all of sports because it represents a lifetime of work for that moment.
2. Vince Lombardi Trophy (NFL):
Awarded annually to the Super Bowl champion, the trophy is named after former Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. He won the first two Super Bowls, with dominant Green Bay squads led by quarterback Bart Starr. The trophy has a distinctive look, with a silver tilted football on a long silver base. It is passed around the winning team locker room so each team member can touch the trophy.
3. Stanley Cup (NHL):
No one can accuse hockey players of not being passionate. The brutal nature of hockey games attest to how much effort they will put into scrambling for a puck. Nothing brings out the passion like winning the Stanley Cup. Everything about it screams tradition. The trophy is huge, weighing 35 pounds, and is more than 35 inches tall. It has been presented since 1893 and is inscribed with the rosters of the Cup-winning teams. Players drink from the cup after winning it and do a victory lap around the rink, holding it high above their heads.
4. Green Jacket (Masters):
Since 1949, the Masters winner has received a Green Jacket as a trophy for his victory. It is given by the previous year's champion and kept by the current champion for a full year. The ceremony takes place in Butler cabin, one of 10 cabins located on the Augusta National Golf Club. The first jacket was handed out in 1949, although origins of the tradition date back to 1937.
5. Heisman Trophy (NCAA Football):
Since 1935, the Downtown Athletic Club in New York has awarded the Heisman trophy to the nation's top college football player. It is named after John Heisman, the legendary Georgia Tech football coach, and is awarded in New York each December before the college football bowl games. The trophy is made from bronze and features a football player making a stiff arm block while running with a football. Players who are Heisman hopefuls will make a tradition of striking Heisman poses after a particularly spectacular play.
6. Venus Rosewasher Dish (Wimbledon): The salver given to the women's singles winner each year at Wimbledon is unique because it does not resemble a typical sports trophy. Made in 1864, the silver salver is nearly 19 inches in diameter and it is inscribed with a set of mythological characters like classical gods. Players will typically kiss the salver upon receiving it.
7. Traveling Trophies (NCAA Football):
Many famous college football rivalry games contain a little traveling trophy held by either team after winning that year's installment of the rivalry game. The Jeweled Shillelagh, for example, is exchanged between the winner of USC and Notre Dame each year. These trophies are highly coveted by each team in a rivalry and ownership of them serves as a point of pride in intense rivalries.
8. Commissioner's Trophy/Pennants (MLB):
The trophy awarded to each World Series champion since 1967 features 30 gold-plated pennants representing each current Major League Baseball franchise. The AL and NL pennants have a much more storied history in the sport. These flags were awarded to the teams from the AL and NL with the best regular season record before 1969, and flying the pennant in the home stadium was a huge honor.
9. FIFA World Cup Trophy (Soccer):
For all of the hype that goes into the World Cup, the trophy awarded to the winning team feels rather subdued. It is a small gold trophy depicting Nike, the Greek God of victory, holding the entire world over his head. What makes the trophy special is how it represents a national passion unrivaled by anything in the world, except maybe the Olympics.
10. Claret Jug (British Open):
The Masters is not the only major flush with tradition. Since it was first staged in 1862, the British Open has held distinction as the biggest golf tournament outside of North America. It is known as one of the world's toughest tournaments thanks to a rotation of challenging courses that host the British Open. The Claret Jug has been awarded to the winner since 1872. An engraving of all past winners can be found on its silver base.
John Coon enjoys getting in a round from time to time in the Salt Lake City area when he is not covering golf as a freelance sports reporter.