Monday, August 20, 2012

Augusta National Noteworthily Accepts Women?


August 20, 2012

The New York Times headline, Augusta National to Add First Two Female Members, By KAREN CROUSE, notes some particulars as Augusta National Golf Club, the private club that hosts The Masters, and has been under attack over the past decade because of its all-male membership, announced it had added two female members on Monday. Former United States Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina businesswoman, Darla Moore.

“This is a joyous occasion,” Billy Payne the, on vacation and unavailable for further comment, Augusta National chairman said in a statement released by the club, adding, “These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership.” Mr. Payne’s statement also includes, “This is a significant and positive time in our club’s history.” And “on behalf of our membership, I wanted to take this opportunity to welcome them and all of our new members into the Augusta family.”

The Times recounts that in April, at Mr. Payne’s annual news conference before the Masters, he deflected questions about the absence of female club members. Augusta National’s membership policies had become a major talking point again because I.B.M., one of three principal sponsors of the Masters, had elevated Virginia M. Rometty to chief executive and the previous four chief executives of the company had been given club membership. The lack of an invitation for Ms. Rometty sparked a national discussion during the week of the tournament, with even President Obama and Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, voicing the opinion that the club should open its doors to women. An obvious infringement on states’, clubs’ and individuals’ rights.

Ms. Rice, 57, served as national security adviser and secretary of state under President George W. Bush, and despite her public disagreeing with some details of that administration’s atrocities she proved herself an able team player. She is a professor at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University, where she has also been provost. A proven well run university where if anyone objects to her power there, certainly no one has gained prominent national recognition for any objection. The Times states Ms. Rice was considered a likely candidate for Augusta National membership if it became open to women.

Ms. Rice said in a statement released by the club, “I have visited Augusta National on several occasions and look forward to playing golf, renewing friendships and forming new ones through this very special opportunity. I have long admired the important role Augusta National has played in the traditions and history of golf. I also have an immense respect for the Masters tournament and its commitment to grow the game of golf, particularly with youth, here in the United States and throughout the world.”

The other new woman, whose implication is also that she won’t do anything either to upset the status quo is Ms. Moore, 58, vice president of Rainwater, a private investment company founded by her husband, Richard Rainwater. She rose to banking success, becoming the highest paid woman in the industry and first woman to be profiled on the cover of Fortune magazine. The University of South Carolina business school is named after her and the former Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson described Ms. Moore as a “good friend” in a statement. As with Mr. Johnson, Ms. Moore is a South Carolina native, a graduate of the University of South Carolina, and banker.

Opened in 1932, Augusta National added its first black male member in 1990. Women had been allowed to play at the club as guests of members. Then in 2002 Martha Burk of the National Council of Women’s Organizations began a campaign that urged the club to include women before the 2003 Masters and the then chairman, Hootie answered, “There may well come a day, when women will be invited to join our membership. But that timetable will be ours, and not at the point of a bayonet.” The instrument that we can also assume was used to keep women out?

The Times then prints the sycophantic assessment of Amy Alcott, a Hall of Fame golfer, who has played Augusta National as a guest. She was in the middle of a charity tournament at Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset, N.Y. on Monday when she found out through phone messages that women had been admitted to Augusta National as members. She said, “It is a great thing that it has happened.” Ms. Alcott, who said she was paired with an Augusta National member but had not discussed the news with him, added: “People have been waiting for this. Nobody functions well with an ultimatum. I said it would happen when people least expect it.” Oh my, that’s what this announcement is? Now when the club can demonstrate how it stands politically is when the announcement is least expected? Or rather right on schedule?

The Times points out that the PGA Tour prevents courses with a discriminatory membership policy from hosting its tournaments, but in May the tour commissioner, Tim Finchem, said that when it came to Augusta National the Masters was “too important” to the tour’s interests. Once again 2012 seems right on schedule for acknowledging PGA rules? Hardly, when, as is obvious, the checkbooks wrote the amendments.

In a statement released Monday, Mr. Finchem said, “At a time when women represent one of the fastest growing segments in both playing and following the game of golf, this sends a positive and inclusive message for our sport.” He forgot to mention how, all along, he was ‘talking about’ how the announcement was coming in such a timely fashion?

Timely, except for one thing. Male leveraging of females from the halls of power has existed for centuries and it’s doubtful accepting two obvious team members signifies an advancement by women. However a real demonstration of women’s influence would be if the CEO of IBM is really allowed to demonstrate any power of her own, by pulling the plug on that sponsorship. But, for the record, I watch The Masters every year and love that tournament. So, when can we expect a Women’s Masters that matters? Huh?
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