Sports | August 15, 2017 1:10 pm

Augusta National Golf Club Sues Auction House Selling Green Jackets

Green Jacket Auctions Inc. selling Byron Nelson's '66 green jacket.

Augusta National Sues Auction House for Selling Green Jackets
Byron Nelson during the 1978 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club in April 1978 in Augusta, Georgia. In the picture, he's wearing the green jacket in question. (Augusta National/Getty Images)

Every year at the Masters, a new champion ends up donning the coveted green jacket in a quaint post-tournament ceremony unlike any other on the face of the earth. There’s no champagne spraying, high-fiving, or sweaty trophy raising. Just that green jacket—awarded for life. (A quick reminder that Spaniard Sergio García took it home this past April.)

For that reason, the Augusta National Golf Club sees its signature fashion accessory as a sacred rite—one that it’s fighting an auction house to keep that way. Per Bloomberg, Augusta National Inc., which owns the golf course, is suing Florida company Green Jacket Inc., which is auctioning off one champion’s green jacket, two member’s green jackets, and some other trademarked items associated with the club.

Byron Nelson's Augusta National Golf Club jacket
Byron Nelson’s Augusta National Golf Club jacket is currently up for auction through Green Jacket Auctions. (

The lawsuit claims that Augusta National owns the green jackets and that except for a single year, they must be kept on the course’s grounds. That, and the champion golfers who wear them merely own “possessory rights” to them, while they’re at the golf course. The same rules apply to member jackets.

The champion green jacket in question was the one awarded to golfing great Byron Nelson in 1966, and at press time, has a current high bid of $114,874 (its opening bid was $25,000). The member jackets—one which sports an “ANGC” patch and belonged to an early member, George King; the other to member John R. Butler, Jr.—have a current bid of $14,265 and $9,847, respectively. Interestingly, the lawsuit claims that the jacket registered to Butler, Jr., was never removed from the club by the golfer, nor did he OK its sale.

This is not the first green jacket the auctioneer has sold. In 2013, Green Jacket Inc. auctioned off that which was worn by the winner of the first Masters, Horton Smith. It reached a hammer price of $682,000.