April 5th, 2012
08:38 PM ET

When will Augusta admit female members?

Augusta National chairman Billy Payne sidestepped questions about female members in his pre-tournament press conference.
Augusta National chairman Billy Payne sidestepped questions about female members in his pre-tournament press conference.

It could have been the week the famed Augusta National made history. It could have been the week the club announced its first female member - nearly 80 years since its inception back in late 1932.

Instead, current chairman Billy Payne stuck to his guns and refused to discuss whether tournament sponsor IBM's new CEO Virginia Rometty would be considered for membership just like her four male predecessors.

It was a packed press conference at the National on Wednesday when the chairman gave his annual address to the world's media. I counted maybe five different attempts - including my own - to get Mr. Payne to elaborate further on his stance that the club simply doesn't comment on membership matters. But to no avail.

So what's next? Will this hot topic of debate go away or will it remain on the table? There are thousands of people out there on the course every day, many of them women.

People I spoke to suggested that we're now in 2012 and it's time for change, but in terms of visible protests - like the one witnessed outside the club back in 2003 - there was nothing doing.

The fact remains that Augusta National is a private club. We assume there are no female members but we don't know that for sure. How could we if the club retains the right to not discuss the matter?

Ideally we would and perhaps should be hearing from Mrs. Rometty on this matter but as of right now - there was no comment from herself or IBM.

One thing I do know is that Augusta does things on its own timetable and won't be pressured into anything. It took the club until 1990 before it accepted its first ever African-American member and it would have surprised me greatly if the National had chosen this of all weeks to announce a first female member.

Quite simply, nothing to distract from the smooth running of the tournament will be tolerated.

Indeed when and if the day comes, it may well be the case that there IS no big announcement.

Oh and by the way, keep an eye out for Mrs. Rometty this weekend. If she's at Augusta for Sunday's final round and she's dressed in a green jacket THEN we'll know history has indeed been made!

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soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Tim Kander

    Why doesn't Augusta National maintain their tradition of offering the CEO of IBM an honorary membership. At the same time they can maintain their tradition of limiting normal memberships to Men. When the Masters is over they can review their membership policy and consider making changes to their policy on normal memberships with due course.

    April 6, 2012 at 4:44 am | Reply
  2. Lou

    Why do "we the people" stand for this nonsense? Simple solution– don't watch the event on TV and don't attend in person. And why does the PGA hold the event there? We should stick our finger in the eyes of the PGA! (unreal)

    April 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Reply
  3. Dammaged

    Why should they allow women? I don't ask for access to the women's change room at the local swimming pool. Guys need their space and women need their space.

    April 6, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Reply
  4. Bill

    It's a private club, it's their money, who's business is it but theirs? There are plenty of organizations across the country that are women-only. What's the big deal?

    April 7, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Reply
  5. ramco19xx52

    Leave it as it is. Leave it as an all male membership. Ladies have the capability to start their own exclusive all Female Golf Event.

    April 8, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Reply
  6. alehandro

    As long as Augusta National garners all this attention for not allowing women members I believe it will continue with that policy. This is the archetypal snob mentality as it perpetuates the belief that the committee has something special that everyone wants. The elitism is transparent and the only way to diffuse it is to stop caring. Without the opium of publicity the club's exclusive policy becomes just a silly little anachronism and the perpetrators of it become pitiful traditionalists completely out of touch with reality. Clearly the men-only rule is sexist but above all it's just plain dumb, so let's stop giving credence to it by having the same discussion every time the Masters comes around.

    April 8, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Reply
  7. Marty Conrad

    This would be the perfect time to offer admission to the new IBM CEO. The membership policy notwithstanding, this is a worthy and accomplished individual that they would want in their membership.

    April 9, 2012 at 4:08 am | Reply
  8. joen

    Just leave it alone. If women want a club to rival what a membership in Augusta National would be, then they are free to go for it. Otherwise, just leave things alone. It's nice to have a little freedom in a PRIVATE club to do as they wish regarding membership.

    April 9, 2012 at 6:17 am | Reply
  9. A M Pilaro

    Augusta National as a private club and should be permitted to offer membership to whomever the governing body desires. However , Augusta National holds the most public golfing event in the world and as such should join that world community which includes women.

    April 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Reply
  10. silverdeer

    Personally, I don't understand why women would want to be a member at Augusta. If the guys want their own private club so be it. Membership costs money and if they do not want the money of the females in this world then that is their option.

    April 18, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Reply
  11. Alex

    They are a private institution and are free to set whatever rules they want. This is about private property rights. They don't have to let women in any more than the boy scouts have to let girls in. We don't need government meddling with the basic freedoms associated with property. The Civil Rights Act already screwed that up to a certain extent (not a popular thing to say, but legally accurate); we don't need to screw it up even more.

    April 30, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Reply
  12. Page

    The course at Augusta is private but the Masters Tournament is anything but private. This is all about business. It's no longer about just the good old boys, women are an integral part of business in today's society. Just take the Master's to a course that isn't so caught up in its archaic traditions, rules and mentality and move on. It's not like there aren't other golf courses out there.

    May 4, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Reply
  13. Brian

    A "private" organization like Augusta National has the legal right to exclude others. All women's groups like: Women for Women and National Organization for Women (NOW) have excluded men for years.
    This thinking and attitudes as to rights of membership works both ways!

    May 4, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Reply
  14. VK

    Brian, NOW does accept men, and so does W for W. Not sure where you're getting your info from, but nevertheless, it seems a bit dated for Augusta to exclude women. I do agree, though, that the club is private, and that they are under no obligation to admit women. Just seems to me to be bad business. Half the patrons during the Masters are women, and women are outstanding golfers. Why not open up the club to women? They're not a threat.

    May 5, 2012 at 1:46 am | Reply
  15. Roger I

    What is a female member?

    May 16, 2012 at 11:57 am | Reply
  16. Marko V. Adag

    if you can't join them, beat them. don't patronize augusta national, don't watch the masters!

    June 4, 2012 at 7:58 am | Reply
  17. nuketim

    The PGA needs to move the Masters to a golf course that has women as members.

    June 5, 2012 at 1:48 am | Reply

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