Ohio Spotlight

April 11, 2024

Ohio: No stranger to The Masters

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

As Jim Nance so eloquently likes to put it, The Masters, which will begin this Thursday, truly is a tradition unlike any other.

What Nance might also and accurately add? If there’s a state other than Georgia that lays claim to the splendor and tradition of golf’s most famous tournament, it’s Ohio.

Of course, the tournament’s most famous champion – Jack Nicklaus – is an Ohio legend. Born in Columbus and educated at Ohio State, Nicklaus’ golf career saw a whopping six Masters championships (1963, ’65, ’66, ’72, ’75 and ’86) – more than any other golfer.

Massillon’s Tom Weiskopf finished second on four occasions. Athens’ Dow Finsterwald finished third twice. And although he was born in Springfield, Missouri, Herman Keiser proudly called Akron home and was the winner of the 1946 Masters. Plenty of golfers born or raised in Ohio have shined at Augusta over the years.

But Ohio’s connection to The Masters goes far deeper than the Golden Bear, beyond the stellar play of Nicklaus and his many Buckeye State brothers.

The Green Jacket, the tournament’s enduring symbol, is a product of Ohio. According to OhioHistory.org, the Buckeye State is responsible for this prized piece of hardware.

Per the site:

“…the most iconic piece of Masters’ tradition­–the venerable Green Jacket–is purely an Ohio creation.Fifty-two men have been presented the Green Jacket as the trophy for winning the Masters Tournament. And since 1967, each has been exclusively (and secretly) crafted in Cincinnati by Hamilton Tailoring. It’s the same jacket worn by Augusta National’s nearly 300 members for club functions. And they’re rarely seen elsewhere. Augusta national has strict rules requiring all Green Jackets to always remain on the grounds of the club. The one exception is made for the current Masters Champion. He’s allowed to wear it in public for the one year following his victory. Then it must return to the club.

Augusta National steadfastly guards its traditions and secrets, so the folks at Hamilton Tailoring are tight-lipped about the making of the Green Jackets. Heck, they don’t even have a website. What we do know is this:

  • The Green Jackets are painstakingly stitched in Hamilton Tailoring’s 150,000-square-foot building in Avondale, on Cincinnati’s northeast side.
  • It takes roughly a month to produce each three-button, single-breasted blazer.
  • It’s estimated that Green Jacket costs about $250 to make (unconfirmed, more secrecy) and is crafted from: 2 1/2 yards of brilliant rye green (Pantone 342) tropical-weight wool, Custom brass buttons inscribed with the Augusta National logo, Official Masters patch, Hand stitched name label on the inside
  • The winner doesn’t keep the jacket he’s presented in Augusta National’s famed Butler Cabin on Sunday–he’s later given a bespoke Hamilton Tailoring-made version. Tournament officials have a few common sizes on hand and make an educated guess.”

Nicklaus and the Green Jacket? When it comes to Masters legend and lore, about the only thing Ohio can’t claim is Tiger Woods – and even all five of his jackets were made in Cincinnati.

And this year’s field offers another connection to the Buckeye State, as Ohio State’s Neal Shipley has qualified to play as an amateur. As an amateur, Nicklaus finished 13th in the 1960 Masters and 7th in the ’61 Masters; according to Golf Digest, Shipley is the top-rated amateur in this year’s Masters field. Shipley, who played three seasons at James Madison before transferring to OSU, was the runner up in the 2023 U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver.

Scottie Scheffler (not from Ohio) is the current favorite to win this year’s Masters (at +450), while Jon Rahm (+1200), Rory McIroy (+1200), Xander Schauffele (+1400) and Brooks Koepka (+1800) round out the top-five favorites.

But, Ohio, if you’re feeling lucky and have confidence in the local kid, Neal Shipley’s ship would come in to the tune of +200000. In other words, if one were to wager $10 on the young Buckeye – and he wins – their ten-spot would turn into $20,000 faster than the greens at Augusta.

It’s fun food for thought, especially considering Ohio’s rich tradition – one unlike any other – as it pertains to The Masters.

FC Cincinnati: Tradition in the Making

© Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Soccer is the world’s game, and while the best leagues are housed overseas in Europe, the sport is on the rise stateside, specifically in the state of Ohio, with FC Cincinnati in MLS. At current, FC Cincinnati sits comfortably in the fifth slot on the MLS’s Eastern Conference, possessing 12 points, just two off the lead. It’s clear that the club has emerged as a consistent challenger in MLS – it feels as if there’s a long history of being highly competive – but relatively speaking, FC Cincy is still fairly new on the scene.

Initially a member of the United Soccer League, FC Cincinnati has been a part of the MLS since the 2019 season. The club has been in the city of Cincinnati since it was initially founded in 2015. After playing in the USL during the 2016-2018 seasons, FC Cincinnati joined the MLS as an expansion team for the 2019 season where the club has blossomed into one of the premier teams in the league. Much like European football, the colors and crest a team wears on match day is an integral part of the spirit of support for a club. FC Cincinnati features orange and blue as its primary colors, along with a logo that features a lion with wings. The use of the color orange makes sense for the club as it shares the shade with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, which tracks considering the two teams play in the same city and FC Cincinnati co-CEO, Jeff Berding, worked for the Bengals from 1996-2015 before helping start the soccer club.

The first MLS game in FC Cincinnati history came on March 3, 2019, as they battled the Seattle Sounders, one of the most popular clubs in the league. Cincy wound up losing the match 4-1, although they would manage to bounce back in their home opener, beating the Portland Timbers 3-0 in front of a sold-out crowd of over 30,000 spectators. The club would go on to make the playoffs for the first time during the 2021 season following the pairing of General Manager Chris Albright and head coach Pat Noonan, both of which remain in place during the 2024 season. During the 2023 campaign, FC Cincinnati tied the San Jose Earthquakes for the longest home win streak with 10 consecutive wins, which had been in place since way back in 2002. Cincy rode the momentum of the 2023 season back to the postseason, eventually qualifying for the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup. Furthermore, FC Cincinnati was awarded the MLS Supporters’ Shield during the 2023 season, a testament to the rapid growth and support of the club in Cincinnati since its inception less than a decade ago.

One dynamic that has helped accelerate interest around FC Cincinnati was the creation of TQL Stadium. When the club first started play in MLS, they were housed at Nippert Stadium, home to the University of Cincinnati football program. The stadium was renovated to accommodate soccer while their new venue, TQL stadium, was built. The current home to the club since 2021, TQL Stadium, is a soccer-specific venue that holds just over 25,000 fans. Located in the West End neighborhood, the stadium is state-of-the-art and one of the best venues across MLS. FC Cincinnati is trending in the right direction as a club. With dedicated and invested ownership, a sprawling new stadium, and a competitive team on the pitch, FC Cincy is one of the best teams in MLS today.