Founded by a stout Wall Street financier in the 1930s, the Augusta National Golf Club has maintained an enduring reputation as a discrete, no nonsense fraternity. Marked by its world-renowned Masters tournament, and a non-chalant, arrogant attitude towards public opinion, the history of the Golf Club is one embellished with prejudice. After opening its doors to black members in 1990, the Greencoats as they are locally known, have come under pressure from women’s right advocates and others regarding its all-male exclusive membership.
After 80 years, the tenacious club finally bent to demands. Earlier this week, the Brotherhood stepped outside of tradition, announcing the admission of two women to its over 300-membership roster. The two women selected included Stanford professor and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Darla Moore, a billionaire banker and philanthropist from South Carolina.
Hats off to the Golf Club for lifting its gender barrier but, I will have to disagree with chairman, Billy Payne’s remarks that this is a significant and positive time for the Club’s history. According to PGA Tour Commissioner, "women represent one of the fastest growing segments in both playing and following the game of golf." Given these developments, this decision is certainly decades late.
These women are well accomplished in their respective fields and should use their new roles to encourage more inclusive agendas at the Golf Club. This will not be a victory for gender equality if they are the first and only women to possess the coveted membership. Nonetheless, the testament of the Club’s decision to open its doors will not be fully realized until more women and others from diverse backgrounds are also welcomed.