Augusta National admits women, and we all should smile

The man who made it happen. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The man who did the right thing. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

That a day too long in coming has finally arrived probably shouldn’t touch off a celebration, but somehow this does. There was never a good reason for Augusta National not to include women among its membership. There was no reason beyond the stubbornness that human beings — both male and female, let’s stipulate — can sometimes mistake for “tradition.” But now the famous private club has admitted two women into its green-jacketed ranks, and that’s one less reason to regard Augusta National as the tin-eared old coot it has often seemed.

Yes, went the hollow argument, Augusta National is a private club and as such could admit whom it chooses. But Augusta National is a private club with a ragingly public face. It invites outsiders — at least those fortunate enough to land tickets — onto its premises for a week every April, and through television and the Internet and even iPhone and Android apps it invites the rest of us to partake of the Masters. It sells merchandise (lots of it) bearing the club logo. Given all that, could it reasonably argue that its membership rolls were of no concern?

Confronted by Martha Burk, former chairman Hootie Johnson sought to dig in his heels and succeeded only in digging a deeper hole. There was no way Augusta National could, in the 21st Century in these United State, remain stag much longer, and everyone who wore the green jacket had to know. Hootie held fast while Burk, who overplayed her hand, eventually went away, but the issue never did. It was raised again this spring, and Billy Payne chose to dodge the question during his annual Masters week briefing.

Say what you will about Billy Payne, but he is not tin-eared. The man who brought the world to Atlanta in the form of the 1996 Summer Olympics always figured to be the man who would admit women to the club on Magnolia Lane, and sure enough he was. Condoleezza Rice, once the Secretary of State, and Darla Moore, a financier known for philanthropy within her home state of South Carolina, are ideal choices, and having Rice, who is African-American, as one of the first women members of a club that not long ago included no African-American men is a most encouraging sign.

And, by adding Rice and Moore, Augusta National hasn’t just welcomed a woman. It has welcomed women, plural. “A joyous occasion,” Payne called it, via a press release, and it is. It should have been done long ago, but we take our breakthroughs where and when we find them. More Payne: “It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their green jackets when the Club opens this fall.”

Some may see this as the fall of one of the last bastions of male-dom, but here’s what we say to such folks: Come out of that cave, men. Nothing is the way it used to be, and a lot of what used to be wasn’t right and/or proper to begin with. Credit Payne for realizing that there’s a world outside the gates of a golf course. Credit him for being the man who finally made happen what needed to happen.

So long as Augusta National was men-only, the question would have been asked: “Why is it men-only?” There was no good answer to that, and there could never have been a good answer. The only right response was to render the question moot. Billy Payne has, and Augusta National is better for it. And so, in a small but significant way, are we.

By Mark Bradley

213 comments Add your comment

Skram30082

August 20th, 2012
12:38 pm

First!

And this is a great column. You’re correct on all points.

Mark Bradley

August 20th, 2012
12:39 pm

Kudos, Skram. And thanks.

[...] Click here for Mark Bradley’s take on the decision. [...]

Weyman C Wanamaker Jr, (A Great American)

August 20th, 2012
12:43 pm

Good for Condi & the other woman. Would have rather it be Christie Hefner (just think of the parties!)

Herschel Talker

August 20th, 2012
12:44 pm

MB:

We love you, man!!!

HT

Ostrich Racer

August 20th, 2012
12:44 pm

I’m all for change, as long as they keep the pimento cheese prices down.

SSIgator

August 20th, 2012
12:48 pm

“Why is it men-only?” There was no good answer to that.
_____________________

Yes there is – It was the way the club wanted it. Of course the PC Police will never quit on their mission to have everyone feel all warm & fuzzy and agreeing with them on their adgenda by sticking their noses in to places they have no business being in.

Mark Bradley

August 20th, 2012
12:50 pm

And here we go.

C’mon, folks. Give it a rest.

Denley

August 20th, 2012
12:51 pm

Smile why? I could care less.

Abnerish

August 20th, 2012
12:51 pm

I believe Martha Burke caused the delay of this announcement. Had she not caused the stink that she did, I am convinced they Augusta National would have come to this decision much sooner. After Martha did her thing, the Club could not allow female members because it would look like they caved to pressure. Waiting until the pressure had subsided (despite what the AP reported), the club was able to do this at a time of their choosing. I am happy they decided to do this and even happier that they did it when they were ready, not when the media or Martha Burke was ready. Congrats Condi and Darla. Let me know if you ever need a fourth!

Denley

August 20th, 2012
12:53 pm

Watch tho. They will now complain that they invited conservative women. Guaranteed. Liberals are never happy with anything.

Fetus Breath

August 20th, 2012
12:54 pm

Mark Bradley
August 20th, 2012
12:50 pm

And here we go.

C’mon, folks. Give it a rest.

\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”\”

You started it with this blog entry…..Just what did you expect?

Not very bright are you?

Matt

August 20th, 2012
12:55 pm

I’m no sexist. My wife could whip me on the tennis court. Women are human beings and valuable participants and contributers to our society. That being said, this is complete BS. If Augusta wants to let women in then fine but the fact that they are forced to do to public pressure is ridiculous. It’s nothing but a fraternity with a golf course!!! Entitlement is overtaking this country. I want to, therefore I should have it and if I don’t get it I”m going to jump up and down until I do. Augusta should let women in!!!!!! WHY??? Because it’s not fair!!!!! So what??? Fair is not an argument. Children have this argument. Here’s an idea: Start your own women’s club and not let men in!!

Again, Augusta is free to do what they want but the fact that they are essentially forced to cave due to public pressure is ridiculous.

Jr

August 20th, 2012
12:56 pm

So when will u write an article asking N.O.W to admit men?

Bryan G.

August 20th, 2012
12:56 pm

I understand the sentiment, Mark, but I just think this was always a non-story. Who cares if it’s all male? On the same line…who cares now if they are not? It was always a made-up fake media story in my opinion.

The rut

August 20th, 2012
12:56 pm

Sure wish I was one of those ladies boyfriend.

Fetus Breath

August 20th, 2012
12:58 pm

Next thing you know, the NFL will have women officials on the field.

Let us pray.

Matt

August 20th, 2012
12:59 pm

Who wants to be a part of something where they are not wanted??? So they let them in? Now what? The other members will be forced to be polite and friendly?? Condeleeza “they aren’t being nice to me”!!!!

Fetus Breath

August 20th, 2012
1:00 pm

Suppose they will start serving wine coolers and light beer there now.

Athens Dog

August 20th, 2012
1:01 pm

I’m not a golfer, although I do enjoy watching Sunday afternoon in Augusta. Saying that, I’m happy for
Secretary Rice and Ms Moore. Altogether fitting that Secretary Rice would be in the first ladies group,
she is dignity and grace personified.
However, and you knew a ‘however’ was coming, it IS a private club. The thought that they were pressured into inviting women is revolting. I’m glad they did, but a private club should be able to do as they please as long as they are not baking the law. Rather than bow to public sentiment, I prefer to believe that they just simply changed their minds for whatever reason.
The marketing of the logo, etc…is a nonsensical argument. If people don’t want the merchandise, they won’t buy it. Augusta National fought, and won, with CBS years back over commercials during the broadcast. The members of the club need many things, no doubt. Money isn’t one of them.

Ted

August 20th, 2012
1:01 pm

Really? Who cares? It is a club of rich and/or well connected good ole boys and now it will have rich and/or well connected good ole girls. All this did was give Mark an easy chance to get his copy out for the day.

SSIgator

August 20th, 2012
1:02 pm

And here we go.

C’mon, folks. Give it a rest.
_________________

Feeling a little sensitive today Mark? Your wrote, posted and opened the article up for comments. Or did you convince yourself that all of the readers would simply agree with what you wrote because you and other writers in the media all like to be on that PC Police bus and therefore, the rest of the public should be as well? Just because the “We Are All One Big Happy Family” crowd asserts that this is the way we should all feel does not necessarily make it so.

JB

August 20th, 2012
1:02 pm

Good stuff. National did it their way on their time table. It’s a private club. The way I look at it, they have added Romney voter 301 and 302 to the club, thank goodness.

only fair

August 20th, 2012
1:03 pm

all the guys in the nationwide tour who rarely make the cut and thus aren’t making much money should demand now that they be allowed to play on the lpga tour , and then they will take away women from that tour. that would be justice for pc muck run awry.

Getaway

August 20th, 2012
1:05 pm

Now,if they will only end their discrimination against middle-class white guys! Where’s our Martha Burke?

Lester Shepherd

August 20th, 2012
1:06 pm

I wondered who the sleaze bag wd be and Rice cd not be a bigger example. Wow Wee!

The Augusta National Golf Club sd be all male. I can’t see anything wrong with it. So what! Can’t men have their caves? Ridiculous.

Fetus Breath

August 20th, 2012
1:08 pm

@ the Rut

Really? You would want to be a boyfriend to one of those women? You would probably want to go dress shopping with them….Help out with the laundry…..Drink light beer……Drive a mini van…..

Yuck

Athens Dog

August 20th, 2012
1:09 pm

Densely and Abnerish are both correct.
And now we can turn our attention to other, more important Injustices in our quest to be a truly fair nation.
Maybe we can get public universities to stop giving admission preference to minorities, and use the same guidelines for all.
Maybe all collegiate scholarship monies from public sources could be made available to all students based on their academic qualifications regardless of gender, ethnicity, etc…

SSIgator

August 20th, 2012
1:09 pm

Mark -

Martha Burke called – she wants to have a beer with you and celebrate.

Al Bundy

August 20th, 2012
1:10 pm

So much for traditions….good ole boys have to be political correct now…sissies!

VoiceOfReason

August 20th, 2012
1:11 pm

@Mark Bradley

This is has nothing to do with Billy Payne. He is just a spokesperson for the membership. Get your facts straight. It was a membership vote that made this happen. Private club. They set their own polices.

Abnerish

August 20th, 2012
1:11 pm

I disagree with the comments that say the club did this out of pressure. If they felt that pressure, they would’ve done this YEARS ago. Perhaps I’m naive, but I feel like this was done because the members wanted to do it. End of story. I don’t think these two women will feel unwelcomed into the club. I mean, it’s not like they applied for membership. The club INVITED them! Big difference.

And, Mark, I wouldn’t get too upset. Those are obviously intentionally over-the-top stereotypical jokes. Harmless…

jeffrey d

August 20th, 2012
1:13 pm

What’s next? Next they’ll have women voting

Roll Turd

August 20th, 2012
1:15 pm

Can you imagine the uproar if a few men wanted to join the Red Hat Society….!!! I am sick of all the double standards…!!!

ole dawg

August 20th, 2012
1:16 pm

God , I hope Billy hasn’t gone and messed it up for all of the deer hunting and fishing clubs in Georgia! Dadgumit, us men got to have a place to go without our wives where we can chew, spit, drink beer, eat food that’s bad for us, and lie. Billy… we coming after you if we have to take our wives this year:)

GTBob

August 20th, 2012
1:16 pm

I would love to care, but I don’t. Really rich and powerful people deciding which other really rich and powerful people are allowed to hang out with them. Yawn. Just keep the course pretty every April.

Gordon

August 20th, 2012
1:17 pm

Mark,

I think you are a good man and a good writer, but I think you have inadvertently insulted these two women. Has it occurred to you that they were admitted because the club wanted them to be members because of who they are and not what gender they happen to be? And Rice is an especially good choice because she is also black?

Nothing in Payne’s statement indicated anything but delight that two people (along with many others) will make their club a better place because of who they are. Augusta National is one of the last places on this earth where nobody really cares whether the world approves or not, so happily these two were admitted for the right reasons.

Abnerish

August 20th, 2012
1:17 pm

Amen, Athens Dog, It’s time to move on. I know the sooner we stop focusing on such trivial things such as race and gender, the sooner we can get to a truly equal society. Equality can and should be achieved. Fairness, however, is an unattainable goal, meant for games and kindergartners.

Fetus Breath

August 20th, 2012
1:18 pm

You can\’t be an atheist and be a member of the Elks lodge.

MarkBradleyMom

August 20th, 2012
1:18 pm

Oh Mark. Can’t wait to knit that sweater with you. That’s what makes me smile.

- Mom Bradley

gbal

August 20th, 2012
1:30 pm

Fetus Breath

August 20th, 2012
1:35 pm

Really, the first female members should have been strippers.

Sid

August 20th, 2012
1:36 pm

Our last bastion of sanctity is now gone forever.

Can’t argue the choice of Rice, that woman has earned it. I really don’t know that much about Darla Moore. Why did SC Gov. Nikki Haley remove her from the University of South Carolina board?

“regard Augusta National as the tin-eared old coot it has often seemed.” Only to you Mark.

“But Augusta National is a private club with a ragingly public face. It invites outsiders and the rest of us to partake of the Masters. It sells merchandise (lots of it) bearing the club logo. Given all that, could it reasonably argue that its membership rolls were of no concern?”

Mark, private membership is of concern to the private members. It has ZERO to do with women should be on the rolls because they have the finest golf tournament in the world. “There was never a good reason?” But it was good enough.

If they were considering welcoming women into the club all Martha Burk did was make it impossible for Augusta National to do so during and subsequent to her tirade. So when Billy took over from Hootie he probably said, “Wait 10 years to let women in, Martha should have kept her mouth shut.”

Let’s tee it up!

sansho1

August 20th, 2012
1:37 pm

The ironic thing is, by admitting women into their ranks, Augusta National itself is leaving its defenders behind. What oh what do they have left now?

Dawglasville

August 20th, 2012
1:42 pm

I think it is funny (sad) that only my fellow white males think there is too much political correctness. I’m sure that their kids, or grandkids, won’t feel the same way. Not because of the way they are, or will be raised, but because us future white males will one day be a minority.

GTBob – Wow. That is the closest I’ve ever come to agreeing with you (1:16) and football is only 2 weeks away.

Sonny Clusters

August 20th, 2012
1:44 pm

Not many people know a Clusters was one of the early members at August National. We mostly play baseball, though, and not all that much golf. We did like the pretty flowers and nicely manicured grass and that drove our love for landscape management and almost took us to Clemson University instead of second shift. This offer to the two women was a decision for the club and no one else. The decision was made and two impeccable candidates have been invited and have accepted. That’s good news. At least Augusta National did not pick somebody in a slump that has potential. We have never seen Condoleeza’s or Darla’s arms but we are betting they are not Popup arms and we bet if either one made the All-Star team it would be for the right reasons.

Skram30082

August 20th, 2012
1:45 pm

One day, you knuckle draggers will realize how ridiculous this seems.

Doesn’t the fact the Lee Elder was the first African-American to play the Masters in 1975 make that time seem like the Stone Age?

Does not the benefit of hindsight enlighten you as to how far we’ve come as a society, as well as how LONG it took us to get here?

I know a lot of these posters are just trying to stir the pot, but others truly just don’tget it.

bitter 8 handycap

August 20th, 2012
1:48 pm

Money cant buy my good looks and nice golf game———the name masters is

—kinda like——-illuminati—–the enlighten one’s——-chumps

thank goodness for —public courses

Fetus Breath

August 20th, 2012
1:49 pm

Am I allowed to say woodpecker?

Frank Lane

August 20th, 2012
1:49 pm

Agree, but the rules for being a gentleman need to change to being a gentle person.