The man behind Colonial’s tartan jacket

Zach Johnson won the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial on May 30.

Zach Johnson won the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial on May 30.

Zach Johnson shot a record-setting final round last Sunday to win the Crowne Plaza Invitational. The victory earned Johnson a piece of golf history – a tartan jacket.

Ever wonder who the man is behind this unique honor?

Barry Smith, owner of Willliam Barry Distinctive Apparel in Fort Worth, Texas, lives for the game of golf. It explains why he was crowned as the official Colonial tartan tailor.

photo

Barry Smith

Smith’s shop is just a five-minute drive from Colonial Country Club. He has been a member since 1977 and served on the tournament committee for more than 30 years. But he wasn’t called to tartan duty until 1989.

“As a true golf fan I couldn’t think of anything better than having the chance to measure and manufacture the famous plaid jacket for the Colonial champion,” Smith said.

Smith’s list of friends has grown over the years as his handiwork has been fitted for tournament champions. The William Barry shop has become a player favorite – tailoring dress shirts and trousers – for players who have and haven’t worn Smith’s tartan jacket.

Someone in Smith’s position doesn’t spend this much time around golfers without collecting some stories.

During the 1990 tournament, Lanny Wadkins asked for a pair of tartan trousers to match the jacket. Wadkins wanted to give the matching outfit to Ben Crenshaw (known for his flashy style) at the trophy ceremony. The full tartan look was the talk of the locker room.

In 1993, Ian Baker-Finch, the 1989 Colonial champion, decided to strip down to his boxers on the 13th hole to retrieve his ball from a water hazard. The next year, Baker-Finch was gifted with a pair of tartan boxer shorts crafted by Smith – just in case he found the water again. It is among Smith’s most entertaining tales.

Here are a few more jacket tidbits:

• Colonial Country Club founder Marvin Leonard created the tradition of the jacket in 1946. It wasn’t until 1952 that the fabric was changed from a dull navy to plaid. He chose plaid because he wanted to honor the history and tradition of golf by using the traditional Scottish tartan.

• Coincidentally, Leonard was close pals with Augusta National chairman Clifford Roberts. So we may have the slightest hunch where Leonard got his jacket idea.

• The tartan for the jacket is shipped in from Scotland every year to ensure the finest traditional tartan is used.

• There are only nine players that have won both the Colonial plaid jacket and the Augusta green jacket in their careers: Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Ben Crenshaw, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Fuzzy Zoeller, Billy Casper, Phil Mickelson and Johnson.

Fashion, golf and history really go together. Keep that in mind the next time you head out to play a round.

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