Augusta National's First Female Members: HE SAID!
My esteemed colleague, Katherine Dyson, offered up the first take on TravelGolf.Com on what it means to have female members at Augusta National. I can’t resist the opportunity to add my five cents. I hope that my points contribute more to the conversation that Katherine began.
Augusta National is unlike any other golfing enterprise in the inhabited world. It is a destination club, with few home town members. Before Rock Creek, Ballyneal, Sand Hills and Pete Dye golf clubs, there was Augusta National. What does that mean? It means that you don’t play Augusta too often. If you do, you might find a stern warning, followed by a suspension or expulsion. Want to improve your game? Join a second or third club.
Augusta National has a number of cabins on site, in addition to the Crow’s Nest space on the top floor. Members and their guests spend 2-3 days at a time on property, enjoying the golf, dining and history of the club. New members Condoleeza Rice and Darla Moore will certainly avail themselves of this opportunity, inviting friends, family and professional colleagues to play the nearly-mythic golf course of The Masters. They simply won’t do it that often.
It was a stroke of wit on the part of ANGC to invite two women at once. When the first african-american member, Ron Townsend, came in a decade or so ago, he was admitted solo. The decision reeked of tokenism. The decision to invite two women, while clearly symbolic, presents the idea of pluralism potential (no matter how unlikely it is.)
Can you separate Augusta National from The Masters? Scribes and pundits say “no.” They continue by adding that the golf club cannot benefit from positive tournament coverage, yet not align itself with the equality that the viewing public demands. Other clubs with discriminatory policies not in the public eye, like Burning Tree, Bob-O-Link and Pine Valley, avoid this notoriety, this attention. In other words, unlike the host of one of male professional golf’s four majors, they owe us nothing.
For some, it’s hard to defend discrimination. For others, it’s easier to justify by utilizing the private home, private organization equation. Those who supported the inclusion of women will be disappointed with the coming months. You’ll read little to nothing about either member, so don’t expect the admission of the two ladies to be a town hall meeting. Rice and Moore will blend in with all the other wealthy, anonymous members, appearing only during Masters week in their green jackets.
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