Discuss: All-male Augusta National step into the present, admits two women
Was that the ground shifting? Augusta National Golf Club is admitting its first two women members since the country club was founded in 1932. The two are former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Darla Moore, a South Carolina financier.
Credit Martha Burk, chairwoman of the National Council of Women's Organizations and a thorn in Augusta National's side over the club's lack of female members
There was not an inkling this was coming. The notoriously private private club, home to the premier Masters golf championship, had long turned a deaf ear to calls to diversify its membership. In addition to not having any female members, the club had so few members of color that even Tiger Woods was hard-pressed to defend their right to discriminate when he won his first Masters in 1997. Woods muttered something about private clubs having the right to set their own rules.
Even as Woods made history, Martha Burk and other women protested daily outside the club. I felt a chill when then Augusta president Hootie Johnson responded to the protesters by saying the club might admit women one day, “but that timetable will be ours and not at the point of a bayonet.” To make sure the world knew Augusta would bow to no one, the club returned all television sponsorship revenue so money could not be applied as pressure. Wow. Imagine if Johnson had said the same thing, but inserted "blacks," or "Jews" for the word women.
I had forgotten about Augusta National but change was overtaking the old plantation mentality plowed into the Georgia club manicured fairways. This year IBM, one of the top corporate Masters sponsors, appointed Virginia Rometty as its chief executive. That created a dilemma for Augusta National since it had awarded memberships to the previous four CEOs. What to do. What to do. We found out Monday in a statement so understated it left intact the club's reputation for secrecy around membership votes.
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