Sympatico: Augusta steps boldly into 21st century with female members

Yesterday I wrote a column about Augusta National’s decision to admit two female members. Given the discussion the notion generated on this blog in the past, hopefully it’ll eclipse my remarks about Rob Ford and there will be talk about what this means for golf:

Augusta National – welcome to the 21st century.

It is fascinating to see that at a time when a disabled athlete can compete in the Olympics, and after women have tipped it up on the PGA Tour several times, a golf club admitting a female member is national news. It seems incongruous at a time when sports are making so many strides to be inclusive.

But that’s what golf’s most famous club, Augusta National, a course run by a group of men that has overseen the Masters since 1934, did when they finally agreed to allow two high-profile women join. Officially former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and business woman Darla Moore are now members of Augusta National Golf Club. The club announced the news today.

“These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership,” Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said in a statement. “It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their green jackets when the club opens this fall.”

Did that hurt so much?

The full column is here, and the comments are open.

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Jeff Lancaster

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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Shame it took Augusta so long to make this decision. The temptation is to applaud the admission of woman but but the sad truth is it took so long to occur that the reaction is most likely to be…it’s about time. Nothing to celebrate here…

  • What’s wrong with a men-only or women-only clubs? Despite its profile, its ludicrous to think that the inclusion of female power brokers to the membership at ANGC in any way will further the game. AGNC’s contribution to the game does not need to include a more inclusive golf club. Besides, other than purchasing high priced brokered tickets to the Masters each year, none of us will ever have the opportunity to set foot on the grounds and certainly not for an invite to play, let alone membership. This whole debate is so tired…

  • National Golf Club of Canada only allows male members. It is sexist and is banned from hosting tournaments by Golf Canada.

    Ladies Golf Club of Toronto only allows female members. It is considered to be empowering for women and is allowed to host tournaments.

  • @Jeff & @Al:

    No truer words uttered by narrow minded members of the male population.

    Btw, there is nothing wrong with male or female only clubs but when those clubs accept millions of dollars from organizations that represent or profit from the consuming public, then the club organizations have a responsibility to basic values of equality and fairness. And denying membership to woman because of their gender is simply unfair and lacks any human respect.

    ANGC was “sucking and blowing” at the same time. No they simply suck…or maybe they blow…take your pick…but they do host an amazing golf tournament…and I might add do many good things for the community…But their attitude and behaviour cannot be overlooked.

  • @Weekend:

    If the circumstances were identical, but this was a women’s only club, I would have no issue either. I’m not sure how that makes me narrow minded.

    What about the wealth, religious or political views required to be part of the membership? Should you not have the opportunity to apply for membership? Memberships are not egalitarian.

    The dollars the club collects are not required to be provided. There is no obligation on the part of the corporations (e.g. IBM) to shell out millions of dollars for sponsorship opportunities to one of golf’s biggest audiences. It is the management teams of these corporations that should be held to task for their sponsorship decisions. ANGC has been clear on its membership stance. Why should it have to change?

  • @Jeff:

    You make a fair point about the management teams of sponsors being held to task for their decisions.

    But the reality is that Men remain the power, influence, and money brokers of our society. Organizations that restrict access to that power, influence, and money simply because of gender should not have the privilege of receiving funds from sponsors who obtain those funds from the consuming public.

    They (sponsors) have a responsibility. And while they are not forced to pay ANGC…the Masters is a highly attractive media property which gains significant advantage from providing a highly sought after television property. But then to say, “we’ll take your money” but we will act as we wish…that is disingenuous and arrogant.

    ANGC is waving an attractive media property in the face of advertisers who have to swallow their values in order to access the lucrative money potential from being associated with the Masters. Essentially, ANGC are powerful old white men wielding their power. And the public sucks it up because they like watching beautiful flowers on an outstanding golf course in April.

  • Jeff,

    Augusta didn’t have to do this. No law forced it to integrate. But if you want to sell something, buyers have to like the product. Buyers were starting to complain about the product, and so Augusta has changed it — or at least changed the packaging.

  • With the Rometty issue last year, it became clear that if ANGC did not admit women like her, they were discriminating solely on the basis of gender.

    While that is their right, no doubt, it made things very uncomfortable for high profile members. If you are the CEO of a publicly traded company, you are subject to constant scrutiny. Shareholders and especially employees would likely pressure some of these men into giving up their memberships.

    Other similarly exclusive clubs fly under the radar. They don’t have press conferences talking about their role in growing the game. ANGC just doesn’t have any comparables.

  • Didn’t women suffragettes get the right to vote in the 1920’s ?? I DISagree, I think Augusta National stepped Boldly into the 20th. Century ! ! ! circa. 1972 or thereabouts, this news is about 40 years tooo late and they should not be commended for obviously dragging their heels on this matter.

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