100 years ago today, women couldn’t vote. They had basically no rights in what was seen as a male dominated world and were brushed aside to raise babies and keep their man healthy and well-fed. After earning the right to vote nationally in the 1920′s and locally in the 1940′s, women began to change how they are viewed, and today many are heads of boards and staffs made up of the men that have kept them down for centuries.
The folks at Augusta National, however, were still in the dark ages until an announcement came down today — 12 years into the 21st Century– that it’s okay for women to become members of their golf club.
Former Secretary of State Condolezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore have accepted offers from the prestigious (and oft pretentious) home of the Masters. It’s the first time in the club’s 80-year history that they’ve even offered a woman membership, let alone accepted one as an actual member of the club.
“I have visited Augusta National on several occasions and look forward to playing golf, renewing friendships and forming new ones through this very special opportunity,” Rice said in a statement released by the club. “I have long admired the important role Augusta National has played in the traditions and history of golf. I also have an immense respect for the Masters Tournament and its commitment to grow the game of golf, particularly with youth, here in the United States and throughout the world.”
With Rice and Moore entering the club as members, the debate and criticism directed at Augusta is likely going to end. For years the club has been blasted as a sexist club with it’s all-male membership and constant refusal to enter the 21st Century progressive mindset. The debate hit an intense high in 2002 when then chairman Hootie Johnson refused a protest by Martha Burk of the National Council of Women’s Organizations to allow women members. Johnson famously stated that there may one day be a woman with a green jacket, “but not at the point of a bayonet”.
Needless to say, Johnson saying this went over less than swimmingly with the rest of the world. There was even the threat of sponsorships being pulled from the Masters.
“As a sponsor of The Masters, we applaud today’s historic announcement by Augusta National and warmly welcome Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as members of Augusta National,” Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T, said in a statement.
When Billy Payne took over for Johnson in 2006, he said that all considerations will be kept private when it comes to membership. He stated that although this is historic, Rice and Moore will not be treated any differently then any other member and that included the membership consideration period.
But any way you slice it, the world is waking up this morning a better, more progressive and increasingly equal place. Women haven’t even bee voting for 100 years now, and already they have a new right: the right to play golf at Augusta National.