Condoleezza Rice First Woman Admitted to Augusta National Golf Club

In a historic move, women will finally be included at the Augusta National Golf Club, one of the most exclusive clubs in the world, and the host of the Masters, Golf’s biggest tournament.

For nearly 80 years, Augusta has been an all-men’s club.

As first reported by the Associated Press, Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne made the announcement Monday that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and business executive Darla Moore will be the first female members of the club. In a released statement, Payne says:

This is a joyous occasion as we enthusiastically welcome Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as members of Augusta National Golf Club.

We are fortunate to consider many qualified candidates for membership at Augusta National. Consideration with regard to any candidate is deliberate, held in strict confidence and always takes place over an extended period of time. The process for Condoleezza and Darla was no different.

These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership. It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their Green Jackets when the Club opens this fall.

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 National family.

"Augusta National is a private club whose membership is small (around 300). You cannot apply to join Augusta National; you can only be invited to join," according to About.com.  Only men have been allowed to join the club (women are allowed to play the golf course).

For years, debate has swirled over membership.

"The most recent debate was sparked because one of the Masters' sponsors, IBM, had recently promoted Virginia "Ginni" Rometty as its first female CEO, and Augusta National traditionally had offered memberships to the CEO of IBM," reports USA Today.

Rometty wasn’t given membership.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to properly cite language that was originally used without attribution to About.com and USA Today. We apologize to our readers for this violation of our basic editorial standards. Mic has put in place new mechanisms, including plagiarism detection software, to ensure that this does not happen in the future.