This week proved historical for both the Augusta National Golf Club and women. The club announced Monday that it would open its membership to females. It is the first time in the 80-year history of the club that women will be able to become members. The first two women to be admitted will be Darla Moore a South Carolina businesswoman and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
The club’s chairman, Billy Payne said that the two women share passion for golf just as all of the club’s members do and are two people known and highly respected by the entire club membership. The membership issue of only allowing males has been problematic for the club for some time and even threatened to overshadow one of golf’s most prestigious tournaments, the Masters, held each April.
A women’s rights activist, Martha Burk, first brought the issue to light in 2003, when she and other women protested outside the club. She also tried to pressure the different corporate sponsors into stopping their financial support each year for the Masters tournament. After hearing the announcement made by the club, Burk called it a victory for all women.
Burk was a vocal protester this past April when Virginia Rometty was not permitted to join the club. Rometty is the CEO of International Business Machines, a large corporate sponsor of the Masters. Normally, executives from the different corporate sponsors are guaranteed membership into the club. Nevertheless, Rometty did not receive membership in April because of her sex.
President Obama commented last April that he thought women should have the right to become members at the club.
Tim Finchem, the current Commissioner of the PGA Tour lauded the decision by the club to admit women.