A Wee Masters Story

A long time ago, in the Bahamas, I was lucky enough to play with Mr. Clifford Roberts who was at the time the Chairman of The Board of Governors of Augusta National Golf Club. He spent January on Grand Bahama Island prior to going back to Georgia to run the annual Masters Tournament. His first “duty” was to send out the actual invitations to participate. And I got to play with him on the Wednesdays he was in Freeport. Cool, for a young Canadian.

Prior to this, in another land near Bolton Ontario, I was lucky enough to play regularly with Gary Maue, Bruce Harper and their friend Bruce Castator. One day when Bruce was paying me the $5.00 I’d won he remarked “But you don’t have a Masters tie or invitation”. It was true, Bruce had played in the Masters, and he was invited as the Canadian Amateur Champion. He had a great amateur career and the Masters experience was the pinnacle. In those days the Canadian PGA Champion also got invited. When I asked Clifford Roberts why this had changed and why the two Canadian spots were no longer available. I thought maybe Moe Norman had been the problem as he had embarrassed many players with his game.

“Well Gary, every player entitled to an invitation gets theirs in the mail around the middle of February. Every one, the same. A few years ago the winner of the CPGA wrote me in December that he had not got his yet. In January he wrote me and also had the chamber of commerce in Manitoba write me a demanding letter or two asking why he hadn’t been invited. Then I started getting calls from the CBC. Well,even Jack NIcklaus hadn’t received his yet, no one had. So that’s when I said no more Canadian Invitations.” Pretty simple reasoning, and if you read more about Clifford Roberts, about what you’d expect. Ward Harden and Bill Payne continue the traditions.

What made me think of this is reading about how proud Nick Dougherty was to receive his invite. He’s a good long shot bet to win on his first visit to Augusta. Well maybe finish second to Tiger.

picture from GOLF WORLD Nick Dougherty with Masters Invite

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

1 CommentLeave a comment

  • Just read your Wee Masters Story and am glad to hear that it wasn’t Moe that gets the blame. I never would have thought that you’d resort to moving all the way to Scotland to avoid playing with me one more time. We did have a bit of fun didn’t we. Here’s a short Castator story for you. Bruce was driving up to Bolton for his usual Sunday game with the guys and got pulled over in the middle of town for speeding. He explained that he was late for a starting time and should have been more careful. The cop when looking at his license asked if he was the Bruce Castator that had won the Amateur. Bruce replied well yes will it make a difference? The cop replied no and gave him the ticket. Bruce was one of a kind and loved coming to play with the guys who treated him like the old friend that he was.
    Congrats on the good move.



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