By David Rynecki

(FORTUNE Magazine) – BEGGING. BRIBERY. KICK- backs. Stories abound about what it takes for an outsider to wangle an invitation from a member to play Augusta National, Baltusrol, Winged Foot, Shinnecock Hills, and other fabled, exclusive sites of major championships. But the truth is, you can tee up at some of America's most illustrious courses. You just have to know how.

Here are a few suggestions: First, find out whether your dream course hosts a charity golf tournament. Winged Foot, the site of the 2006 U.S. Open, is the venue for the annual Wall Street Charity Golf Classic, a fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation ( The entrance fee is $1,600 per person, but holing out on the 18th green alone would be worth that price for many fanatics who remember the 1997 PGA Championship there, when Davis Love III sank a winning putt against the backdrop of a rainbow.

If the course doesn't host a charity tournament, you may still be able to gain access by contributing to a worthy cause. Many charities hold auctions, and some of the most popular items are rounds of golf. For example, an organization called Golfers Against Cancer ( hosts an auction each year that includes a threesome at Shinnecock Hills, site of the 2004 U.S. Open, as well as at several other famous locations. Last year the Shinnecock threesome went for $4,000.

Another option is to become a volunteer. Every tournament needs hundreds of workers to hold up QUIET signs or conduct traffic across fairways. The customary reward: an invitation to play the course on the Monday after the tournament. Even Augusta allows several hundred volunteers--many of them doctors, lawyers, and prominent businessmen--to play 18 holes a few weeks after the Masters. So the next time you watch a major championship on TV and see some sweaty, gray-haired guy holding a sign, don't feel sorry for him. Soon after, he'll be living his dream--hacking it out along the same fairways as Tiger and Vijay. -- David Rynecki