1937 Robert T. "Bobby" Jones' Personal Augusta Green Jacket....
UPDATE: Please note that the attributed photo match of Jones wearing this jacket is in error. The photo is from 1946 and we believe that the image likely pictures Jones in a later version, tailored by Brooks rather than the offered 1937 original Haskett jacket.
Almost as legendary as the skill which earned him golf's only Grand Slam was the grace and dignity of the man who claimed all four Majors of the 1930 season. Jones famously dismissed accolades for calling a penalty stroke upon himself at a crucial juncture of a match with the statement, "You may as well praise a man for not robbing a bank." For Jones, there was no struggle between right and wrong. Wrong never stood a chance. Golf journalist Herbert Warren Wind put it best when he wrote, "In the opinion of many people, of all the great athletes, Jones came the closest to being what we call a great man."
Presented is arguably the most important Bobby Jones artifact that exists, which puts it quite solidly in the running for the most important collectible from the history of golf as well. While Jones joined Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey and Bill Tilden as the leading icon of his respective field of endeavor during the Golden Age of Sport, his most enduring contribution to the game is the Masters Tournament, contested on the Augusta, Georgia grounds he personally transformed from untamed woodlands during the Great Depression. The fabled Green Jacket serves as the tangible symbol of golf's greatest achievement, awarded to the victor every second Sunday in April inside Augusta's Butler Cabin. As closely guarded as it is coveted, the Green Jacket today is restricted to the grounds of Augusta with winners strongly urged against taking the garments "off campus," and absolutely forbidden from selling them. Super Bowl rings, World Series trophies and Championship belts may routinely enter the hobby, but the Green Jacket remains the most elusive of prey.
Jones had retired from professional competition by the time he turned his attentions to the Augusta project, though he still competed in the Masters Tournament for a number of years as a treat to his fans anxious to see the legend in action. Jones' personal Green Jacket was not a victor's prize, but rather worn to identify him as a member of the staff, an idea germinated from his experience at the 1930 British Open where red jackets were supplied to course representatives and the winning golfer. It was in 1937 that Jones issued Green Jackets to all Augusta members, and 1949 that the garment became an annual prize for the Masters Champion.
The very first Green Jacket was custom made for Bobby Jones by Haskett of New York City. Clifford Roberts, Jones' partner in founding Augusta National, was a Wall Street financier. He most likely commissioned Jones' original jacket which was to become the prototype for all future Green Jackets. Its main distinguishing feature from later Green Jackets is that only on Jones original jacket is the Augusta National Golf Club logo embroidered into the lapel pocket and not sewn onto the pocket as a separate patch.
When Clifford Roberts ordered Green Jackets for the general club membership he used the services of the Brooks Uniform Company, also located in New York City. Afterwards, other manufacturers were contracted to provide later editions of the original design. As far as we know, Bobby Jones' first Green Jacket made by Haskett, as offered here, is the only surviving example from 1937. Apparently, all of the Brooks Uniform Company examples were discarded in the distant past. A few Brooks examples can be seen on vintage photographs, the most distinctive feature being the A.N.G.C. (Augusta Nation Golf Club) lettering on the lapel patch and the crude shape of the map of the United States, both features which exactly match Bobby Jones' original Haskett jacket.
With characteristic generosity, Jones personally made a gift of this jacket to the artist who painted the portrait of Jones that hangs in Augusta to this day. A 1991 notarized letter traces the chain of custody from the artist, to the gentleman who purchased the jacket when the artist fell upon hard times, to the letter writer. A second letter from Frank J. Christian, who served as the club photographer for Augusta National for fifty-two years, confirms the jacket style as the earliest of its kind. Also included is a modern print of one of Christian's photos, picturing Jones wearing this exact jacket.
The green wool garment survives in remarkable and 100% original condition, down to the brass buttons and the simple golden "RTJ" embroidered on the interior chest pocket. Inside this pocket we find a label from "Haskett, 2 West 45th St., New York" with handwritten identification "Robert T. Jones Jr., Feb/37, 6133," the final number apparently some form of inventory code. A more fitting digit would be "1," considering this blazer is the very first Masters Jacket, that it serves as a symbol of the pinnacle of links achievement, and that it originally belonged to the man who will forever reign as the most illustrious figure in the history of competitive golf. Letter of provenance from owner. LOA from Augusta club photographer. LOA from Heritage Auctions.
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