The elegant cards invariably begin, “The Board of Governors of the Augusta National Golf Club cordially invites you to participate” in the upcoming Masters Tournament.
Participate in the Event
In an interview, Crenshaw, who won the Masters in 1984 and 1995, said, “I’m ecstatic every time. “That’s what every player will tell you. They receive that official invitation, and when you see it, you think, “Wow, I’m qualified to participate in the event.
Opening Round on Thursday
The Masters, which will play its opening round on Thursday, is one of the few sporting competitions that openly cultivates and savours mystique. The manicured rectitude of a course splendid with azaleas and dogwoods and largely, proudly free of modern life’s conveniences and intrusions are there, along with the green jackets for winners and Augusta National members, the Tuesday night dinners for former champions, the cheap pimento cheese sandwiches for fans, and the green jackets.
The mailing and receipt of invitations to the men who have qualified for the Masters, however, is one of the tournament’s throwback traditions, and it usually takes place in private months before the field takes on Augusta National’s punishing greens.
Since the beginning of the tournament in 1934, Augusta, a town that embodies everything Southern, has sent invitations and requested that golfers RSVP.
The responses are still changing even though the invitations have hardly changed over the generations. Today’s players typically respond via email. However, Augusta National relied on written correspondence for many years. The club recently gave The New York Times access to some of the written correspondence it has stored in its archives. These correspondences contain not only pages of golf history but also glimpses into the personalities of the players and their shifting fortunes.
In February 1946, about two months before he won his only major championship, the Masters, Herman Keiser wrote in cursive on “Herman Keiser Golf Pro” letterhead, “It will be a pleasure to be there.”
The following year, Claude Harmon replied to a Western Union telegram with, “It is with pleasure that I accept your invitation to play in the Masters Tournament.” It’s always a pleasure. Thanks.”
Players over the years also corresponded from the Sands Hotel in Tucson, Arizona, and a Holiday Inn in San Ysidro, California. Sam Snead used the letterhead of Miami’s Hotel Dallas Park to write in 1949 that he would “accept with pleasure,” while Lloyd Mangrum simply stated his intention to play in 1955 on the invitation itself and returned it to Augusta.
Nick Faldo, Jack Nicklaus, and Tom Watson all opted for succinct but warm letters.
Nick Faldo in 1988, Arnold Palmer in 2003, Doug Ford in 1957, and Tiger Woods in 1995 are shown clockwise from top left.
In 1995, Crenshaw accepted as he pondered what José Mara Olazábal would order for the Champions Dinner because Arnold Palmer’s wife frequently seemed to prepare his responses; Player sent one on a Christmas card, and Palmer frequently appeared to prepare them himself. Eldrick “Tiger” Woods, who had just turned 19, had submitted an acceptance letter that same year, and it was noted in the writing that he did so. Then there is a piece of paper with Woods’ recognisable signature on it that could have been found in the stationery section of a department store.
In 2019, when Woods informed Fred S. Ridley, chairman of Augusta National, that he would play in the Masters, the letterhead, bearing the name and logo of one of his corporate endeavours, was a reflection of his new position in life. (Questions about who wrote the 1995 letter to Woods were not answered by the agent.)
Palmer acknowledged in a letter from 2003 that he looked forward to “seeing my many friends at Augusta National during the week,” but some responses, like his, seemed formulaic. Others claimed that despite being aware of what Augusta really wanted—a simple acceptance or regrets—they still tried to vary how they constructed their responses.
Crenshaw said, “I tried to change it up a little bit, but they are just waiting for a response.