Why Are Players And Caddies Wearing Yellow Ribbons At The Memorial?

Players and caddies are helping to raise money for children's hospitals by participating in the 'Play Yellow' movement

Tommy Fleetwood wearing a yellow ribbon at the Memorial Tournament Muirfield Village
Players are wearing yellow ribbons at the Memorial Tournament
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Many players and caddies are either wearing yellow items of clothing or a yellow ribbon during the final round of the Memorial Tournament, but why?

It's to help raise money for charity from Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. The 'Play Yellow' movement is spearheaded by Jack and Barbara Nicklaus, who host the Muirfield Village event, in partnership with the PGA Tour and Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. 

“'Play Yellow for Children’s Hospitals strives to bring the entire golf world together to help the 10 million kids treated at local children’s hospitals each year," the Play Yellow website states.

It has been running since 2019, and players in all rounds of the tournament do their bit by wearing yellow shirts, caps or ribbons. Before the 2024 event, Nicklaus spoke about the campaign and revealed it had surpassed its initial $100m target.

He said: "So we started on this program and we passed, after about three and a half years, we passed about 130 million. And so I don't know what level we're at now, we're 130 million plus, I think we're probably in the, by now, by the fourth year of our campaign."

But why the color yellow? Nicklaus gave a detailed answer to that question too. He explained: "Play Yellow was started by a young man that, who is a son of our minister, Barbara's minister when she grew up. And he contracted Ewing sarcoma when he was like 9 or 10 years old, and his mother asked Barbara if I would call him. So I called him and talked to him and developed a relationship. And I talked to him quite frequently. Nobody knew much about what we were doing.

"But, anyway, one day I called him after a tournament I had won and Craig said to me, he says, 'Jack, Jack, do you know why you won today?' And I says, 'Why is that, Craig?' He says, 'I wore my lucky yellow shirt.'

"So that's where it started. So I won that tournament, we didn't really say much about it. He passed away at the age of 13, 1971."

Tiger Woods wearing a yellow ribbon on his cap during the 2020 Memorial Tournament

Tiger Woods wearing a yellow ribbon during the 2020 Memorial Tournament

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Nicklaus then recalled one of the most famous of his 18 Major title, his 1986 win at The Masters, and explained it was the catalyst for the movement to come.

He continued: "I wore yellow quite often then on Sunday for him, and I was rummaging through my suitcase in 1986 and I found this yellow shirt. And I said, 'What do you think, Barbara?' And she says, 'Craig would love it. Go for it.'

"So I wore a yellow shirt on Sunday in '86, and then I won and ended up having to tell the story. And then the story came out. And then to progress on further, we started doing some yellow, Play Yellow things, which were ribbons and things that we had at several of the tournaments."

Jack Nicklaus at the 1986 Masters

Jack Nicklaus revealed that wearing the yellow shirt at the 1986 Masters had a hand in the Play Yellow initiative that exists today

(Image credit: Getty Images)

So, with the $100m milestone passed, what does it mean for the future of Play Yellow? According to Nicklaus, it's onwards and upwards.

"We've done very well," he said. "We'll not stop here. We'll continue to raise money. And this one little boy, it's a legacy. I feel that shirt lives on."

Elliott Heath
News Editor

Elliott Heath is our News Editor and has been with Golf Monthly since early 2016 after graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism. He manages the Golf Monthly news team as well as our large Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. He covered the 2022 Masters from Augusta National as well as five Open Championships on-site including the 150th at St Andrews. His first Open was in 2017 at Royal Birkdale, when he walked inside the ropes with Jordan Spieth during the Texan's memorable Claret Jug triumph. He has played 35 of our Top 100 golf courses, with his favourites being both Sunningdales, Woodhall Spa, Western Gailes, Old Head and Turnberry. He has been obsessed with the sport since the age of 8 and currently plays off of a six handicap. His golfing highlights are making albatross on the 9th hole on the Hotchkin Course at Woodhall Spa, shooting an under-par round, playing in the Aramco Team Series on the Ladies European Tour and making his one and only hole-in-one at the age of 15 - a long time ago now!

Elliott is currently playing:

Driver: Titleist TSR4

3 wood: Titleist TSi2

Hybrids: Titleist 816 H1

Irons: Mizuno MP5 5-PW

Wedges: Cleveland RTX ZipCore 50, 54, 58

Putter: Odyssey White Hot OG #5

Ball: Srixon Z Star XV

With contributions from