The Masters: Why do caddies wear white jumpsuits?
Surely, you’ve wondered: Why do caddies at Augusta National Golf Club wear white jumpsuits?
To find the answer, you’ve got to go all the way back to the 1930s when the club opened.
And it isn’t only during Masters week that the caddies at Augusta National wear these jumpsuits – it’s the standard caddie uniform there and one you’d see any time you’d be lucky enough to receive an invitation and visit for a round.
The earliest caddies at Augusta National were poor African American men from the local community and the jumpsuits were provided because the club’s founders and members wanted to make them look smart and neat.
The caddie jumpsuits weren’t worn in the Masters until 1946 – the first Masters played following World War II after a three-year hiatus. According to Ward Clayton at www.masters.com, the jumpsuits, “were made of a heavy, hand-sewn, herringbone material. Prior to that caddies usually wore clothes similar to the style of the day, even though pinned-on numbers to help fans recognize players were used beginning in the early 1940s. Today’s jumpsuits are made of a lighter material that is wrinkle resistant. Each player’s name (on the back), number and Augusta National logo (on the front) are Velcroed onto the uniform. Each suit is washed nightly.”
So, what does the number on the caddie’s jumpsuit mean? The caddie numbers are assigned based on the order the player officially registered for the tournament during Masters week. There is, however, one notable exception. The caddie of the defending champion automatically receives “No. 1.”
Interestingly, when Jack Nicklaus returned in 1966 to defend his 1965 Masters, he refused to accept the No. 1 caddie number.
Clayton explained why:
“He chose the No. 90 that caddie Willie Peterson had worn the year before. ‘A No. 1 has never won this tournament, you know,’ Nicklaus said the week before the 1966 Masters as he went through his usual pre-Masters week practice routine. ‘The fact of no repeaters doesn’t bother me; really it doesn’t make one bit of difference. I would just like things to be like last year.’ It was, as Nicklaus became the first player to win consecutive Masters, a feat since repeated by Nick Faldo (1989-90) and Tiger Woods (2001-2002).”