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