The Masters has all the time been an invitational event, even before it was called the Masters, though its appeal and prestige have swelled because the tournament’s early days. The chance to play today is hardly a surprise — Augusta National publishes a roster of clear-cut ways to qualify, from being a previous Masters champion to ending in the highest 4 on the previous yr’s P.G.A. Championship, though it has the authority to ask others to compete. But players aren’t all the time aware that the storied tournament comes with a physical invitation.
Patrick Reed, who earned certainly one of Augusta National’s green jackets in 2018, recalled that he had been tipped off to regulate the mail for his first invitation after he won the Wyndham Championship, but that it was still “unbelievable” when the envelope from the club near the Savannah River arrived ahead of the 2014 Masters. He kept that first invitation, in addition to the one from the yr after he won.
“Each of them are ones I’m going to avoid wasting and cherish eternally,” he said at a news conference in 2019, though he didn’t know where his other invitations had wound up through the years. He added, “Just the chills whenever you’re opening it up, it’s just an awesome experience — though it’s just a bit of paper that has your invitation on it.”
Neither Crenshaw nor Player could recall another tournament with quite such a habit, or, at the least, not one quite so polished. (“I don’t remember getting a letter from the R&A,” Player, who has long described the British Open as his favorite tournament, mused wryly of that event’s organizer.) Many in golf, including Crenshaw, ascribe the enduring formality to Bobby Jones, an Augusta National founder who died in 1971.
“To me, it reflects what Bob Jones all the time retained on nearly the whole lot that’s at Augusta: It’s proper, it has a certain quantity of grace to it, there’s a touch of humility,” Crenshaw said. “It’s beautifully done, and the font has never modified, and the seal is on it. It’s the way in which they do things.”