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Ohio firm fashions green jackets from Georgia cloth

February 16, 2012 - 4:52 pm
Phil Mickelson is presented the Masters trophy by chairman Hootie Johnson Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club.  File/Staff
File/Staff
Phil Mickelson is presented the Masters trophy by chairman Hootie Johnson Sunday at Augusta National Golf Club.
By Damon Cline |

The coveted green jacket might be made in Ohio, but it's cut from Georgia cloth.

For three decades, Cincinnati-based Hamilton Tailoring Co. has made the traditional blazer worn by Masters Tournament winners. It uses wool fabric produced at the Victor Forstmann Inc. mill in the central Georgia town of Dublin.

Hamilton Tailoring's chairman, Ed Heimann, last purchased the emerald fabric in 1990, according to the plant's records.

The 500-yard roll Mr. Heimann bought is enough to make 200 green jackets.

``That's a lot of jackets,'' Dublin plant manager Dorsia Atkinson said. ``That's why he hasn't ordered any in awhile.''

But the custom apparel maker could be running low. Mr. Atkinson said account records note Augusta National Golf Club informed the company in 1997 that Hamilton Tailoring would need to order another roll sometime this year.

``We sent them a letter saying we wanted to continue being their supplier; they said they will be needing some cloth in 2000,'' Mr. Atkinson said.

A phone message left on Mr. Heimann's voice mail was not returned Friday.

His company takes about a month to produce each three-button, single-breasted blazer, which is fitted with custom brass buttons inscribed with the Augusta National logo.

The famous green coat is available only to Masters winners and Augusta National members. Mr. Heimann told the Cincinnati Post the Augusta National accepted his offer to make the custom jacket about 35 years ago.

``We were formed in 1909,'' he was quoted as saying. ``And I'm a golf nut, so the fit is natural.''

The wool used to make the fabric is imported from several countries, primarily Australia, Mr. Atkinson said.

Victor Forstmann, one of Dublin's largest employers, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Victor Woolen Products Ltd. of Quebec, Canada. The New York-based textile manufacturer was known as Forstmann & Co. before last year's acquisition, which helped it emerge from Chapter 11.

The company, which once operated wool worsting and weaving plants in Louisville and Milledgeville, filed for bankruptcy protection after its third straight year of losses.

Behind the green jacket

  • It's the classic three-button style, single-breasted and center-vented.
  • Made of tropical-weight wool (about 2 1/2 yards per jacket) from Forstmann Co. mill in Dublin, Ga.
  • That brilliant rye green: Pantone 342.
  • Estimated cost to make: $250. (Although no club spokesperson will confirm this publicly.)
  • Made exclusively since 1967 by Hamilton Tailoring Co. of Cincinnati.
  • Logo-stamped brass buttons made by Waterbury Button Co. of Cheshire, CT. Breast-pocket patch made by A&B Emblem Co. in Weaverville, N.C.
  • The owner's name is stitched on a label inside.
  • The winner doesn't keep the presentation jacket he wears on Sunday -- he's later given a custom-made version to keep.
  • Tournament officials watch as leaders emerge in the final round and try to have a few appropriate sizes on hand.
  • Sometimes they guess wrong. Jack Nicklaus was given a ridiculously big 46-long in 1963, which he said "looked like an overcoat." When Nicklaus came back a year later, the club still had not made a jacket that fit, so he borrowed one from former N.Y. governor Tom Dewey, a club member. Nicklaus eventually ordered one himself from Hart, Schaffner and Marx in 1972.
  • After a year, the winner must bring the jacket back to Augusta National and never wear it outside the club again. But there have been exceptions. Gary Player got into a heated exchange in 1961 with Cliff Roberts after he mistakenly left his jacket in South Africa.
  • Sam Snead was the first Masters champion to get a green jacket, in 1949, to make him an honorary member. It was then awarded to all past champions retroactively.
  • The original purpose of the green jacket, as envisioned by Cliff Roberts, was to identify club members as "reliable sources of information" to visiting non-members -- and to let waiters know who got the check at dinner.
  • Traditionally, last year's winner presents the jacket to the new champion at the tournament's end.

 

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