Augusta admits women20th August, 2012 by Colin Victor
Augusta National Golf Club, which has been under increasing criticism for its all-male membership, has invited two women to join the club for the first time in its 79-year history.
Former US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier, Darla Moore, are to become the first women to wear the green jacket when the club opens for a new season in October.
“These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership,” chairman Billy Payne said on Monday.
“It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their Green Jackets when the Club opens this fall.”
The debate reached boiling point in 2002, when Martha Burk of the National Council of Women’s Organizations applied pressure on the club to permit female members. Former chairman, Hootie Johnson, stood his ground, even at the cost of losing two years of Masters television sponsorship, when he famously said Augusta National might one day have a woman in a green jacket, “but not at the point of a bayonet.”
Responding to the announcement, Burk said, “Oh my God. We won. It’s about 10 years too late for the boys to come into the 20th century, never mind the 21st century. But it’s a milestone for women in business.”
The issue became a hot topic earlier this year when the world-famous golf club, which hosts the Masters every April, faced severe pressure because technology company IBM, which runs its website, appointed a woman – Virginia Rometty – as its CEO. Her four predecessors were all given membership of the club, but she was not. Both contenders in this year’s USA general election, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, then criticised Augusta National because no woman has ever been allowed to join the club in its 79-year history.
Previously, women were allowed to play the course at the club, but they were not allowed to be members or wear the famous green jacket, which is reserved for about 300 men, including Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Arnold Palmer, who joined the club on an invitation-only basis.