Augusta National a boys club no more

The Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters golf tournament, said it has admitted two women...

The Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters golf tournament, said it has admitted two women as members for the first time: Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and financier Darla Moore.

IAN HUTCHINSON, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:07 AM ET

Martha Burk had slipped off the radar the past few years, but began blipping loudly again with news on Monday that Augusta National had admitted its first two female members in former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina businesswoman Darla Moore.

In declaring victory over one of golf’s venerable venues, Burk was quoted as saying “the boys” had come into the 20th century, hinting that they hadn’t yet arrived in the 21st century, despite a decision that many “boys” were waiting for over the past 10 years or so, along with women.

The high road was not one that Burk wanted to take, even though it was mission accomplished for the National Council of Women’s Organizations which, led by Burk, began the campaign for female members at Augusta 10 years ago.

Burk could have focused on the positive, but the truth is, this decision does little for women or for golf, other than opening the gate of an exclusive club to a chosen few.

Burk’s intentions were honourable, but her in-your-face threats of sponsor boycotts of the Masters delayed the decision longer when you consider that former Augusta chairman Hootie Johnson declared it might one day have a female member, “but not at the point of bayonet.”

Burk, on the other hand, maintains it never would have happened if she hadn’t done what she did 10 years ago, including a 2003 protest down the street from Augusta that received lots of media attention but few supporters and it petered out a few days before Mike Weir won the Masters.

Monday’s announcement seemed to catch Burk off-guard and it came at a time when pressure to allow female members was low, even if it did hit a peak recently when Virginia Rometty was named CEO of IBM, a position that would, in recent years, mean an Augusta membership.

However, you want to spin the history leading up to Monday’s announcement, a new era has set in at Augusta, but it hardly signals a new age of enlightenment for society.

Augusta has been notoriously slow to change. It didn’t have a black member until 1990 and in this day and age, a new member making headlines due to gender or race shouldn’t be the case, even if it’s within the law and women were allowed to play as guests.

On the flip side of that is Burk’s fascination with Augusta, seemingly a lust for the high profile cause that took time away from more important pursuits in the name of gender equality that would benefit society more as a whole than the few affected by this decision.

The people who claim to bring about change for society have fallen victim to the lure of the one percent that the Occupy movement likes to talk about and that’s what’s happening with the attention given to the elite in this case.

Hopefully, this brings a conclusion to the whole sad tale played out over 10 years and Augusta will continue to add women, although it might be difficult to tell with the way it protects its membership matters.

This story can’t disappear fast enough for golf, a game that has been attempting to shake the elitist image for years and needs to attract not only women, but families, immigrants, seniors and people of diverse backgrounds and economic situations.

While the Augusta situation over the past 10 years likely turned some women off the game, the fact that this story is all about the wealthy casts that elitist image out there again as golf attempts to lure the masses.

A wrong was righted with Monday’s announcement, but once this story fades away, society still finds itself with greater problems than who’s on the tee at Augusta.

WHERE SERGIO BELONGS

Sergio Garcia doesn’t offer many opportunities to write something positive about him despite his immense talents.

It is those talents that make you wonder sometimes where he’s coming from, such as earlier this year when he stated at the Masters that he might not be good enough to win a major. At times, he alternates between brooding and bratty.

Yet, Garcia held it together despite an overnight wait due to rain to secure the Wyndham Championship on Monday. Garcia was challenged, but he was up to the task and shot a final round 66 to win by two shots.

What stands out is that Garcia’s eighth career PGA Tour victory came more than four years after his last one at the 2008 Players Championship.

Mind you, Garcia won a couple on the European Tour last year, so he hasn’t been winless, but the important development is that he has secured a spot on the European team for the Ryder Cup, an event that he has excelled in with a 14-6-4 record.

Garcia’s contributions were more than wins and losses. The Ryder Cup, unlike the majors, seems to be Garcia’s element and he became a positive force, a team leader.

After missing the 2010 Ryder Cup as a player, his return this year may be something to kick-start a once-promising career, produce the number of wins that he’s capable of and, more importantly, convince himself of the talents others see, but he seems to have trouble identifying.

If that ever happens, he may surprise himself by shaking the best player never to win a major tag.

 


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