FORT WORTH -- As a tailor, an owner of an apparel shop in Fort Worth, and a golf fan, Barry Smith could not have a better side-job than making Colonial Country Club's famous plaid jackets awarded to the winners of the annual PGA Tour event held at the course.
"It's been a thrill to deal with our champions over the years," says Smith, who runs William Barry Distinctive Apparel and has a plaid jacket of his own due to his position on Colonial's tournament committee. "It's very rewarding."
Colonial started awarding jackets to its winners in 1946, beginning with a plain navy design. The design was changed to Scottish tartan in 1952 as a nod to the birthplace of golf, and the fabric used to make the jackets is imported from Scotland. While Colonial is not the only tournament to award a plaid jacket to victors, Smith says the pattern is unique.
"There's nine or ten colors in the pattern, and that's just something that's not very common in these days and times."
Tournament winners initially wear a model jacket for the trophy ceremony--Smith says he gives them a size based on an educated guess--then he measures them for a custom-fit jacket that is presented the following year. And when he says "custom," he really means it!
"It probably takes about 20 measurements. I take digital pictures of [the winner's] shoulders and his side so we can check his shoulder alignment, head position, so on and so forth."
The jackets are kept at Colonial Country Club as a matter of convenience. The club cleans and presses them each year prior to the tournament and places those belonging to active players in their lockers so they can be worn upon their arrival.
In addition to players, jackets can be given to tournament committee members, longtime volunteers, and tournament title sponsors--but they must be awarded; they can't be bought. That's a good thing for many who own them as Smith estimates the value of each to be around $1,500!
As for making plaid items other than jackets, Smith says there have been two instances: Ben Crenshaw was awarded pants to match his jacket following a victory, and Ian Baker-Finch was awarded plaid boxers after he took off his pants to hit a ball out of the water hazard on the 13th hole! (If you've never seen the video, you need to check it out.)
While the privilege of wearing the jacket is great, it should be noted they're made of wool. So when the heat is on, as it is this week, it's just as great to take them off.
"It feels good after an announcing shift to get in the air conditioning, yes sir," admits Smith.
Hey, with temperatures in the high-90s, getting in air-conditioning feels good no matter what you're wearing!