The Masters has always been an invitational event, even before it was called the Masters, although its appeal and prestige have grown since the tournament’s inception. The opportunity to play today comes as no surprise – Augusta National releases a list of clear ways to qualify, from being a former Masters champion to finishing in the top four of the previous year’s PGA Championship, although he has the power to ask others to compete. But players don’t always know that the Legendary Tournament comes with a physical invite.
Patrick Reed, who won one of Augusta National’s green jackets in 2018, recalled he was warned to keep an eye on the mail for his first invite after winning the Wyndham Championship, but it was always “incredible” when the club’s envelope near the Savannah River arrived ahead of the 2014 Masters. He kept that first invitation, as well as that the year after his victory.
“Both are the ones I will save and cherish forever,” he said at a press conference in 2019, though he was unsure where his other invitations ended up over the years. . He added: “Just the chills when you open it, it’s just an awesome experience – even if it’s just a piece of paper with your invitation on it.”
Neither Crenshaw nor Player remembered another tournament with such a habit, or, at least, not so polished. (“I don’t remember ever getting a letter from the R&A,” Player, who has long described the British Open as his favorite tournament, thought wryly of the organizer of that event.) Many golfers, including Crenshaw, attribute enduring formality to Bobby. Jones, a founder of Augusta National who died in 1971.
“To me, it reflects what Bob Jones has always taken about almost everything in Augusta: it’s okay, there’s a certain grace, there’s a touch of humility,” Crenshaw said. “It’s beautifully done, and the font has never changed, and the seal is on it. It’s their way of doing things.”