The Augusta National Golf Club announced today that it has admitted its first ever female members: Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore, a business powerhouse from South Carolina. This is a bold move for the club, which has always been exclusively male in its membership.
Augusta National hosts the Masters Tournament each year, which is one of four championships in PGA. It’s also a spectacularly beautiful course, and it has been rated as among the best in the world. There is a history of prestige and power associated with membership, and once a player has been granted membership, they receive a special green jacket to indicate that the wearer is a member of the exclusive institution. One cannot “apply” to be a member, as memberships are based solely on invitation, and invitations are issued at the discretion of the members.
Clearly, an invitation to join Augusta National Golf Club is a Very Big Deal in the world of golf. Until 1990, it did not allow black members and actually had a policy for many years requiring that all caddies be black and all players be white. Until Monday, August 20th of 2012 (that’s today), women weren’t allowed to be members at all. We feel it’s time for all of us to give a standing ovation to the progressive values of a wonderful golf club.
Wait…that’s not what I mean at all. What I meant to say was that it’s time for us all to scratch our heads in baffled wonderment that it took a prestigious, nationally recognized club until 1990 to allow blacks and until today to allow women. Given that some of the top names in golf are Tiger Woods (part black, part Asian, part golf wizard) and Kathy Whitworth (a woamn who won more tournaments than any man, ever), it seems like Augusta National might be just ever-so-slightly behind the curve of America. Of course, Augusta National is a private club that is allowed to make its own rules about its membership, but with the international stage on which the club operates, it’s about time this happened.
In 2003, when a women’s organization petitioned Augusta National to open its membership to female golfers, former chairman Hootie Johnson said that he wouldn’t be “forced at the point of bayonet” to start admitting women. Reality check, Hootie: In this century we, 1) don’t openly discriminate against women, or 2) OWN BAYONETS. What is wrong with this picture?
You don’t get a pat on the back for allowing two famous women to be part of your club and get your special green jacket. What you get is an eye roll and a condescending “congratulations.”
If we want to start making great strides of female athleticism and inclusion, let’s at least hold out for the NFL. I’d rather have a diamond-encrusted Super Bowl ring than some ugly-ass jacket, and I’d rather hang out with Peyton Manning than Hootie and The Blowhards.