Same-name mixup sends Masters invite to ‘casual golfer’ Scott Stallings

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Scott Stallings plays golf, but he’s no pro — and certainly not good enough to compete at the Masters, one of professional golf’s most prestigious tournaments.

And yet, on New Year’s Eve, the 60-year-old real estate agent and self-described “casual golfer” received an invitation to play at the four-day tournament in Augusta, Ga., this spring, seemingly giving him a chance to win a coveted green jacket, one of the sport’s highest honors.

Except the invitation was supposed to go to another Scott Stallings. A mix-up with the invitation from the Augusta National Golf Club, which hosts the Masters, resulted in it ending up with Stallings, the Atlanta-based real estate agent, instead of Stallings, the 37-year-old professional golfer and three- hour PGA Tour winner.

The Masters is the first of four major tournaments of the year and the only one played on the same course every year. The field is limited to the world’s best golfers. By winning 2022’s tournament, Scottie Scheffler bagged $2.7 million of the contest’s $15 million purse.

Augusta National did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

But all will be granted a mulligan of sorts. After realizing that he was not the intended recipient, Stallings and his wife, Jenny, made it their mission to ensure the invitation made it into the right hands, he said.

They’re lucky they found the invitation when they did. Scott and Jenny decided to celebrate New Year’s with an impromptu getaway at their condo on St. Simons Island, which they’d purchased in August to use as a vacation rental. But when no one booked it for the week straddling New Year’s Day, they decided to stay there themselves.

They arrived on New Year’s Eve. As is their custom while traveling, Scott started unloading their luggage from the car while Jenny headed inside. As she approached, she spotted a UPS package at the front door and opened it. She immediately recognized the familiar Masters green of the envelope inside and the tournament’s logo on the front. Jenny thought their years-long effort to score tickets to the tournament had finally paid off. But as she considered it, that didn’t make sense because they hadn’t even applied to get tickets to this year’s event.

Jenny read the letter inside, realizing that it wasn’t a ticket to watch but an invitation to play in the tournament. She blurted out the news to her husband.

“It felt amazing. It felt like we had just won the lottery,” Scott Stallings said. “We know that the Masters is just such an important event. It was like holding the golden ticket.”

For a moment, he let his mind wander. He’d just received an invitation for Scott Stallings to play in the Masters. He was, in fact, Scott Stallings and had a driver’s license to prove it. Armed with the official invitation, he suspected that he could wriggle his way onto the course at Augusta National and maybe even play a few holes before anyone was the wiser.

Stallings let his mind wander a little further. Maybe — just maybe — the invitation was intended for him. Augusta National might have chosen him at random as a way of letting the common man compete alongside the likes of Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.

But reality bullied its way into Stallings’s thoughts, dashing his hopes. He knew there was a pro golfer who shared his name. And he knew this was not his golden ticket. Although momentarily deflated, the realization that he had gotten the invitation by mistake gave the Stallings new purpose.

“We had something special in our hands, but at the same time, we knew we were not the rightful owners,” Stallings said. “So it was our mission to get it back to the rightful owners.”

Just not immediately. Because the Stallingses had plans for New Year’s Eve, they put the Masters invitation on their dining room table. It stayed there the next morning as they took their planned New Year’s Day walk on the beach. After night fell, they returned to their project. They had to get the invitation to pro golfer Scott Stallings, but how?

Jenny sent a direct message on Instagram to the pro, who replied with a laughing emoji. So they took photos of the two envelopes and invitation letter and sent them as proof. Stallings the real estate agent also gave Stallings the pro golfer his phone number.

But he called that night around 9:30, after Stallings had set his phone to “do not disturb” mode. The call went to voicemail. On Monday morning, Jenny checked Instagram and saw that the golfer had posted screenshots of their messages to his account and the story had blown up.

“Literally had been checking the mailbox five times a day and then I got this random DM yesterday,” Stallings wrote.

At 11 am, the professional golfer called back while preparing to play the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii, and the two Scott Stallingses finally connected. He gave them his home address in Tennessee so they could send the invitation he’d been eagerly awaiting for weeks.

The next day, Tuesday, Stallings and Jenny took the Master’s invitation to a UPS store in Georgia. They filmed the experience in a video they posted to Instagram.

“Okay, Scott, why are we at the UPS store?” his wife asked from behind the camera.

Wearing a frown and holding up a green envelope emblazoned with the Masters logo, Stallings explained.

“Because I’m having to send my invitation to play at the Masters back to the other Scott Stallings,” he said.

Stallings said the pro golfer invited him and his wife to Augusta during Masters week, a token of appreciation for fixing the invitation blunder. That includes a dinner with all four Stallingses and tickets to watch practice rounds before the tournament begins on Thursday. Stallings said he’s thrilled to go to Augusta National during Masters week, something that’s eluded him for years.

“It’s just a dream come true,” he said.

Stallings is still holding out hope that he’ll find a way to watch the tournament — maybe even on the weekend when a champion will be decided. One thing isn’t in doubt: Stallings is rooting for his namesake, now more than ever.

The professional golfer, however, still doesn’t have his invitation. On Wednesday afternoon, the real estate developer checked the tracking information for the UPS package he’d sent the day before.

“It ice en route,” he said. The package is scheduled to arrive at the golfer’s home in Knoxville on Thursday, he added.

Then, the real estate agent hedged a bit on his ETA: “I think.”

The other Scott Stallings will be checking the mail.

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