AUGUSTA, Ga. — The green jacket is one of the most revered symbols in all of sports, right up there with an Olympic gold medal and the Stanley Cup.
Yet, even with the strict sense of decorum that is afforded the prized garment awarded every Masters champion, it occasionally winds up in spots no one would ever expect.
Like underneath a garbage bag.
Or in Ohio.
Yep, an authentic green jacket is on display at a country club in suburban Cleveland — a long, long way from Augusta National.
“Believe me, when we’re showing off the club to a prospective member,” Michael Kernicki, the head golf professional at Canterbury Golf Club, said by phone Wednesday, “and we take them into the Henry Picard Lounge, they’re like, ‘Did I see that right? You’ve got a green jacket?’“
Indeed they do, thanks for the descendants of the 1938 Masters champion. Picard’s family donated it to the club when it was designing a room to honor the Hall of Famer who also served as its longtime pro.
Each Masters champion gets to keep his jacket for a year, but Augusta National expects it to be treated with an ample level of respect during its 365 days away from the club.
Just ask 2007 winner Zach Johnson, who committed a couple of faux pas during his tenure as champion.
First, not realizing until after his victory that he could take the jacket with him, he wasn’t prepared to transport it.
“I have no garment bag,” Johnson recalled. “I’m going to New York at 6 a.m., so I covered it up with a trash bag. I didn’t want to say, ‘Hey, look at the green jacket, me, Mr. Cocky Man.’“
Then, during media appearances in Times Square, Johnson slipped on the green jacket while wearing a pair of jeans. Apparently, that didn’t go over well back in Augusta, either.