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The green jacket: Should it stay or should it go?

Matt PaulsonBy Matt Paulson,

Navy blue and black. Black shoes and a brown belt. Brown shoes and a tuxedo. A green jacket?

As a kid, I spent countless hours before and after rounds on the putting green at our public executive nine. Each putt was for a different major. “This to win the U.S. Open.” “With this putt, he is the PGA Champion.” “The British Open hangs in the balance with this putt.” But none was like the 72nd green at Augusta. The first of the calendar year’s majors (the fourth of the year of the Tiger. He has his own year. Who knew?) seems to hold a mystique like no other.

Maybe it’s the hallowed alleyways off the tees or the seemingly unnaturally green surroundings that provide a benevolent beauty with a magnitude outmatched only by the feeling one gets when he steps onto the first tee. Maybe it’s the glass surfaces or the history that screams with a deafening silence echoing through the pines into the ears, minds and hearts of every player that is fortunate enough to enter its bounds. There’s just something about Augusta.

So for those who ward off golf’s best players at – arguably – golf’s finest venue, those who tap into some spiritual reserve to become as close to perfect for four days out there as any player can hope, can’t we find something better to give them than a green freakin’ jacket?

May the golf gods strike me dead for blaspheming such a storied prize, but honestly? In real life, who wears a green jacket?

Are there green pants to match? Where does one get a pair of Master’s green slacks? How late is “Jesper’s Closet” on Fifth Avenue open? Is this truly an acceptable piece of outerwear to venture out into public donning? Phil hasn’t taken it off. I’m pretty sure he’s bathed in it. And what color do you wear with a green jacket anyway? Do you have a sense of humor about it and just yank out some red pants? You know: Go for the entire elfin ensemble.

I guess part of the mystique is indeed the idea that no one else has it, unless they too won at one of golf’s most hallowed grounds. Really, who else is going to buy a bright green sport coat under their own free will? It is the secret handshake of the champions at Augusta, the best of the best of the best. But, in all honesty, it’s about as pretty as Roseanne getting a sponge bath by Steve Buscemi who is receiving a backrub from Carnie Wilson while she sings “Hold On.” Try to get that vision out of your head. It may take years of therapy. Or if you’re impatient, as most of us are, I suggest a swift blow with a large mallet.

I don’t mean to wax Joan Rivers here. In fact, nothing should be waxing Joan Rivers. But can’t we learn a little lesson from Happy Gilmour? We’ve all seen the movie. And I know you’ve all tried to hit a tee shot like Happy. But does anyone remember what he wins at the end? Yes, 10 points for the gentleman in the front row: It’s a gold jacket. it’s shiny, and it’s flashy. What more can one ask for in the new age?

Let’s get with the times. Golf is now pop culture. It’s cool to play. With the dawning of Tiger, the sport we all love became mainstream. And there’s nothing wrong with that, we just need to catch up. Let’s kick the good old boys in the arse. Bling, bling is taking over. The hip-hop culture is in. Throw out that green jacket, and let’s get a little more modern. It’s time to pull out the diamond-encrusted FUBU coat with the “Master’s Chizzampion” ‘do-rag in the Butler Cabin. You know what, let’s go all out. The PGA Tour will now pay for the champion to get platinum-coated teeth with the year they won across the front. No?

Alright, alright. Perhaps I’ve stretched too far with this one. There comes a time when sacrilege flies past the humorous right on into just plain stupid. Perhaps the green jacket does belong around Phil’s shoulders, and around the shoulders of all those who have come before him. They fended off gnashing teeth from the best players in the game, perfecting their body movement and quieting their perpetually racing thoughts to hold on through the final 18. Maybe I just envy them. Perhaps it’s simply sour grapes. But can’t we at least try to negotiate? Can we compromise? I’ll allow the green jacket simply because I will concede that it’s indeed here to stay. But can we at least think about the ‘do rag?

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