Augusta National Golf Club admits first female members
Women make history as Augusta members
- NEW: Obama says decision was “too long in coming” but “the right thing to do,” his spokesman says
- Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore become Augusta National’s first female members
- Opting to admit women marks a “significant and positive time” for the club, its chairman says
- Women’s rights activist Martha Burk declares victory, says pressure forced the club’s hand
(CNN) — Augusta National Golf Club opened its exclusive membership to women Monday for the first time in its 80-year history.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina businesswoman Darla Moore will become the first women to join the Augusta, Georgia, club, Chairman Billy Payne said Monday in a statement.
“These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership,” Payne said.
The issue of its formerly all-male membership has long dogged the private club and has at times threatened to overshadow the Masters Tournament, among golf’s most prestigious events.
Women’s rights activist Martha Burk put the issue in the spotlight in 2003, when she led a protest against the club and worked to put pressure on corporate leaders to withdraw their support for the organization and the Masters.
On Monday, she declared victory.
“My first reaction was, we won — and we did,” Burk said. “By we, I mean the women’s movement and women in the United States, particularly those in business.”
She said continued pressure from women’s groups and corporate interests forced the club’s hand. Activists over the last decade “facilitated a couple of sex discrimination suits against corporations whose CEOs are (Augusta National) members,” Burk said, but she did not name any corporations or individuals.
Burk also pointed to the April controversy over the club’s failure to admit IBM CEO Virginia Rometty, as it has past IBM leaders. Sponsoring the Masters usually guarantees membership to a company’s officers. But Rometty had been ineligible because she is female.
“We gave them a pretty big black eye in April when they dissed Ginny Rometty and did not allow her in the club as they had all of the males preceding her as CEOs of IBM. And I think they knew they could not sustain it,” she said.
At the time, White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Barack Obama believed women should be admitted to the club.
Payne declined to comment on the issue then, and is not talking about it now outside of the statement issued by the club, according to club spokesman Steven Ethun.
In that statement, Payne said the decision marked a “significant and positive time” for Augusta National.
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem lauded the decision.
“At a time when women represent one of the fastest growing segments in both playing and following the game of golf, this sends a positive and inclusive message for our sport,” Finchem said in a statement.
He was far from alone in applauding Augusta National’s decision.
Mitt Romney — the Republican party’s presumptive presidential nominee who, in April, had said that he’d admit women if he were in charge of the club — offered congratulations on Twitter to both his friend Rice and Augusta National.
And Nancy Lieberman, a Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee who played parts of two seasons in a men’s professional league, likewise cheered the move. “Congrts breaking thru #equality,” she wrote on Twitter.
“Slowly but surely lots of crumbs ad up to a cake,” wrote another women’s sports pioneer, Billie Jean King.
Obama “welcomes the development” as well, Carney said Monday.
“He thinks it was too long in coming, but obviously believes it was the right thing to do,” the White House spokesman told reporters.
The choice of Rice and Moore will ensure that women admitted to Augusta will be equals to their male counterparts, Burk said.
“They have chosen two groundbreaking women, two very prominent women, who are clearly equal in stature to the other members who are, of course, all male,” Burk said. “I think it would have been a mistake to choose a lower-profile woman and basically make that statement that, yes, we’re letting women in but they’re not really going to be equal with the men.”
Rice served under President George W. Bush as the first female national security adviser and the first African-American woman to hold the post of secretary of state. She also was on President George H.W. Bush’s National Security Council staff and was a special assistant to the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1986.
She grew up in humble beginnings in segregated Birmingham, Alabama, and rose to prominence in academia and international diplomacy. She has been on the faculty of Stanford University since 1981, has authored two best-selling books and is a member of various boards and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has been awarded 10 honorary doctorates.
Rice, who is also an accomplished pianist, said in a statement released through Augusta that she is “delighted and honored” to join the club.
“I have long admired the important role Augusta National has played in the traditions and history of golf,” she said.
Moore is the vice president of Rainwater Inc., the investment firm founded by her husband, Richard Rainwater. Fortune magazine once named her among the top 50 women in business, and the University of South Carolina’s business school is named in her honor.
She is also chairwoman of the Palmetto Institute, a nonprofit that says it is dedicated to producing “dramatic and sustained growth in the creation, distribution and retention of wealth for every person in South Carolina.”
Moore said she is “extremely grateful for this privilege.”
“I am fortunate to have many friends who are members at Augusta National, so to be asked to join them as a member represents a very happy and important occasion in my life,” she said.
Burk’s protests against the club’s policies made Augusta the focus of national attention beginning in 2002, when she wrote letters challenging the male-only membership policy at the club.
The club’s chairman at the time, Hootie Johnson, responded that admitting women as members would not be done “at the point of a bayonet.”
The next year, Burk organized protests to coincide with the Masters, which drew widespread attention. The uproar led Augusta National to decide not to have advertising for the CBS broadcast of the Masters in 2003 and 2004.
In 2006, Burk was among a group of Exxon shareholders who accused the company of violating its discrimination policies by supporting the golf tournament.
On Monday, the syndicated newspaper columnist and co-founder of Center for Advancement of Public Policy women’s equity advocacy group said she hopes Augusta National’s decision “cracks open that glass ceiling just a little bit further” for American businesswomen. At the same time, Burk called the development “just one small step.”
“(Corporations) need to be working toward parity in the halls of power; Augusta National is just one,” she said. “It’s an important one symbolically, but we have a long way to go.”
Sports of The Times
Yet-to-Be Details of Olympic Golf
Published: August 18, 2012
Nobody teed off in London, but in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, golf will re-emerge as an Olympic sport.
Britain Takes a Final Bow (August 13, 2012)
“I hope I qualify,” Tiger Woods told reporters recently. “I’ll be 40 by then. It’s something I’ve never experienced.”
Neither has any other living male or female golfer.
Not since 1904 has there been an Olympic golf champion. That year, George Lyon, a Canadian amateur, defeated H. Chandler Egan, the reigning United States Amateur champion, 3 and 2, in the final at Glen Echo Country Club outside St. Louis, where the Olympics were held in conjunction with the “Meet me in St. Looey, Looey” World’s Fair.
During the Paris Olympics four years earlier, Charles Sands, a member of St. Andrew’s, the first American golf club, now in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., shot 82-85 in the men’s tournament. Margaret Abbott, a Chicago socialite traveling with her mother in France, won the only women’s competition with a 47 for nine holes at Compiègne.
After disappearing into decades of debate, golf will return to the Olympics four years from now in Brazil, a nation with only 107 courses and a sports heritage geared more to soccer’s Pelé and Ronaldo. Sixty men and 60 women from a yet-to-be-announced format from the world rankings will play 72 holes in separate tournaments on a yet-to-be-built course.
Woods appears eager for the Olympic experience, but don’t expect all the top names to be there. Just as many top tennis professionals have ignored the Olympics, some top golf pros surely will. There is no prize money and no appearance money, only a gold, silver or bronze medal, although a pro’s equipment or clothing contract might contain a bonus for an Olympic medal.
Another factor: with the 2016 Olympics in an Aug. 5-21 window, the men’s tournament must be squeezed between the British Open and the P.G.A. Championship, each more prestigious and more lucrative. That would afford some of the top pros an excuse not to attend.
So far, only the Olympic course architect has been announced by the Rio 2016 golf committee for a South American metropolis of 6.3 million people with only two existing courses, both private. Brazil’s best golfer, Alexandre Rocha, is No. 430 in the world rankings.
Of the eight architectural finalists, seven are renowned: Jack Nicklaus/Annika Sorenstam, Greg Norman/Lorena Ochoa, Gary Player, Peter Thomson, Tom Doak, Robert Trent Jones II and Martin Hawtree. But the committee chose Gil Hanse, a lesser-known American based in Malvern, Pa., and his consultant, the Hall of Famer Amy Alcott.
Hanse “most aptly met the selection criteria,” the committee said. He “tackled the challenge of designing a course for use by both elite and amateur athletes, one of the main legacy objectives.” His design “addressed the environmental sustainable directive for the Games and efficiently conformed to the building restrictions of the land.”
Yes, the land for the 7,226-yard par-71 course (6,494 yards for women). Hanse compared it to Australia’s sandbelt region with distinguished courses like Royal Melbourne, Kingston Heath and Victoria.
“The sand affords you so many other opportunities to be creative; it facilitates drainage especially,” Hanse said during a recent interview.
“It’s a very open site with some native species on some of the dune formations. The primary trees are mangroves, which are all down along the edges of the lagoon.”
Hanse’s most celebrated design is Castle Stuart, the site of the Scottish Open. He has restored eminent courses like Quaker Ridge, Los Angeles Country Club, Ridgewood and Plainfield.
Hanse, who plans to move to Rio with his wife, Tracey, will begin construction in late October, with the course expected to be ready for play in the middle of 2014 and test events in 2015.
“I think if the golf course identifies a really top-notch player as your champion, that’s really all you can ask of it,” Hanse said. “Hopefully, when the medals are handed out, we are talking about who won, as opposed to the golf course. As for designing a course that also will be played at a shorter length for the women, at the end of the day, if it felt like they were on two different golf courses, that would be really cool.”
According to Hanse’s conceptual routing plan, one large pond and three smaller ponds will affect play on eight holes, twice on four holes. Water will border seven fairways and narrow the entrance to five greens. Three greens will be near the beach.
“An underutilized aspect of golf architecture when dealing with players of this caliber is presenting them with interesting problems to solve in the recovery shot,” Hanse said. “Royal Melbourne shows that. Augusta National shows that. Even when these guys get around the green and they miss a shot, that aspect of utilizing slopes and speeds to recover, instead of just Point A to Point B — that, I think, is fascinating.”
But which “players of this caliber” will be in Rio in 2016? Time will tell.
And when Hanse was asked if he would share the nuances of his Olympic course with all those “players of this caliber,” he smiled.
“Only the Americans,” he said.
A version of this article appeared in print on August 19, 2012, on page SP10 of the New York edition with the headline: Yet-to-Be Details Of Olympic Golf.
Condoleezza Rice breaks into all-male US golf club
Washington Aug 21, 2012 Former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, a key architect of the landmark India-US civil nuclear deal, has broken into one of America’s staunchest boys’ clubs — the Augusta National Golf Club.
For the first time in its 80-year history, Rice and South Carolina businesswoman Darla Moore will become the first women to join the famous golf club in Augusta, Georgia.
Founded by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts and designed by Alister MacKenzie on the site of a former indigo plantation, the club opened for play in January 1933.
“These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership,” said Billy Payne, chairman of the private club, long dogged by controversy over its formerly all-male membership.
The issue which has at times threatened to overshadow the Masters Tournament, among golf’s most prestigious events, was put in the spotlight by women’s rights activist Martha Burk in 2003 when she led a protest against the club.
On Monday, she declared victory. “My first reaction was, we won… and we did,” Burk was quoted as saying by CNN.
“By we, I mean the women’s movement, and women in the US, particularly those in business.”
Continued pressure from women’s groups and corporate interests forced the club’s hand, she said pointing to the April controversy over the club’s failure to admit IBM CEO Virginia Rometty, as it has past IBM leaders.
Sponsoring the Masters usually guarantees membership to a company’s officers. But Rometty had been ineligible because she is female.
Both President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger welcomed the development.
Obama “thinks it was too long in coming, but obviously believes it was the right thing to do”, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Monday.
Romney, who had said in April he would admit women if he were in charge of the club, offered congratulations on Twitter to both Rice and Augusta National.
South Carolina Businesswoman Invited to Join the Augusta Nationals
South Carolina financier Darla Moore, along with former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, have become the first women admitted into Georgia’s Augusta Nationals golf club – home of the Master’s Golf Tournament.
The private club has been notorious in recent years because it has, until recently, been all-male and did not allow its first black member until 1990. Martha Burk, a leader in the National Council of Women’s Organizations, conducted a protest across the street from Augusta Nationals in 2003. She has been critical of the organization’s stance on female members, but applauds the decision this year.
“These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership,” said Billy Payne, chairman of the Augusta Nationals and the Masters. “It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their green jackets when the club opens this fall.”
Darla Moore got her degree in political science in a short three years at the University of South Carolina, then earned her MBA at George Washington University. Her career started at Chemical Bank in New York, focused on bankruptcy. The South Carolina native has become one of the highest paid women in business, and has donated a significant amount of money to the University of South Carolina’s business school, which has been renamed in her honor. She also donated $5 million to USC for a new aerospace program, although she was removed from USC’s board of directors last year by Governor Nikki Haley.
Moore and Rice have both graciously accepted the invitation.
Augusta National Membership: How much does it cost and how do you apply?
By Brent Kelley, About.com Guide
Answer: The easy answers:
- How much does it cost? Probably a lot less than you’d expect.
- How do you apply for membership? You don’t.
Augusta National Membership Costs
Augusta National Golf Club does charge its members an initiation fee and monthly dues (and there are other club costs, such as lodging and dining for those members who chose to use those services). But the fact is, the club makes so much money off The Masters Tournamentand Masters merchandising, it doesn’t need to charge huge membership fees.
In 2009, Golf World magazine published an article titled “Inside Augusta National Golf Club.” A club member (speaking anonymously) told the magazine that the initiation fee is in “the low five-figures.” So definitely less than $50,000, and we can probably interpret that to mean less than $25,000 (and it might even be closer to $10,000). A lot of money, to be sure, but much less than many, many other exclusive golf clubs charge.
As for monthly dues, another source told Golf World they amount to “a few thousand” dollars. So in the neighborhood of $250 a month/$3,000 a year.
Applying for Augusta National Membership
How do you apply for membership? Again, you don’t. There is no way to apply to join Augusta National. Augusta National memberships are by invitation only. When a membership spot opens, the club decides who to invite and mails the invitation.
Augusta National Golf Club has about 300 members at any given time. Membership is strictly by invitation; there is no application process. In 2004, USA Today published a list of all the current members. Membership is believed to cost between $10,000 and $30,000 and annual dues were estimated in 2009 to be less than $10,000 per year.
Augusta only invited and accepted an African-American member for the first time in 1990 following a controversy at Shoal Creek Golf and Country Club. Shoal Creek, an all-white golf club in Alabama, also refused membership to black players and faced demands that the PGA Championship not be held there following racial comments by the club’s founder. Chairman Billy Payne declined to discuss the club’s then continued refusal to admit women in his 2012 pre-Masters press conference,  and Augusta National subsequently extended membership to Condoleeza Rice and Darla Moore on August 20, 2012.
Notable current members include:
- Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
- Pete Coors, former chairman and CEO of Coors Brewing Company, current Chairman of Molson Coors Brewing Company & MillerCoors
- Bill Gates, co-founder and chairman of Microsoft
- Pat Haden, former NFL player and current athletic director at the University of Southern California
- Lou Holtz, former college football coach
- Hugh L. McColl Jr., Former CEO of Bank of America
- Darla Moore, South Carolina businesswoman
- Sam Nunn, former United States Senator from Georgia
- Sam Palmisano, former CEO of IBM 
- T. Boone Pickens, Jr., oil tycoon
- Harold “Red” Poling, former CEO of the Ford Motor Company
- Condoleezza Rice, former United States Secretary of State
- James D. Robinson III, former CEO of American Express
- Carl Sanders, former Governor of Georgia
- Lynn Swann, former NFL player
- Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric
- Clifford Roberts (1934 to 1976)
- William Lane (1976 to 1980)
- Hord Hardin (1980 to 1991)
- Jackson T. Stephens (1991 to 1998)
- Hootie Johnson (1998 to 2006)
- Billy Payne (2006 to present)
In 1966, the governing board of Augusta National passed a resolution honoring founder Bobby Jones with the position of President in Perpetuity.
2002 membership controversy
Augusta National and Chairman Hootie Johnson are widely known for a disagreement beginning in 2002 with Martha Burk, then chair of the Washington-based National Council of Women’s Organizations, over admission of female members to Augusta National. Burk said she found out about the club’s discriminatory policies by reading a USA Today column by Christine Brennan published April 11, 2002. She then wrote a private letter to Johnson contending that hosting the Masters Tournament at a male-only club constituted sexism. Johnson characterized Burk’s approach as “offensive and coercive”, and responding to efforts to link the issue to sexism and civil rights, Johnson maintained the issue had to do with the rights of any private club:
|“||Our membership is single gender just as many other organizations and clubs all across America. These would include Junior Leagues, sororities, fraternities, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and countless others. And we all have a moral and legal right to organize our clubs the way we wish.||”|
Burk, whose childhood nickname was also Hootie, claims to have been “called a man hater, anti-family, lesbian, all the usual things.” Johnson was portrayed as a Senator Claghorn type—”a blustery defender of all things Southern”.
Following the discord, two club members resigned: Thomas H. Wyman, a former CEO of CBS, and John Snow, when President George W. Bush nominated him to serve as Secretary of the Treasury. Pressure on corporate sponsors led the club to broadcast the 2003 and 2004 tournaments without commercials. The controversy was discussed by the International Olympic Committee when re-examining whether golf meets Olympic criteria of a “sport practiced without discrimination with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.” In August of 2012, the Augusta National board of directors extended membership to two women.