Augusta National Golf Club is quite possibly the most prestigious golf club in the nation. The exclusive club hosts the Master’s Tournament, Golf’s most coveted title. Most golfers would give anything to have one of the Club’s Green Jackets, reserved only for winners. A part of the club’s exclusivity is it’s restriction that women cannot be members of the famous club. This arcane policy has survived under the radar because of Augusta’s status as a private club with a closely guarded secret membership. However, the club’s membership became national news when the club refused membership to one of the Primary sponsors of the Master’s Tournament. Each year, Augusta gives a membership to the C.E.O of IBM which sponsors the Masters Tourney. Yet this year, Augusta has refused to issue a membership to the current C.E.O of IBM, who happens to be a woman. Despite giving a membership to IBM’s previous four C.E.O.’s Augusta withheld a similar offer to Ginni Rommety, who became C.E.O. in January.
The President issued a statement through his Press Secretary, expressing his belief that “”We are kind of long past the time when women should be excluded from anything”. “His personal opinion is that women should be admitted”. How Augusta will respond to the mounting pressure remains to be seen but as a private club, Augusta can discriminate. If the public is truly outraged at their policies, it will have to show Augusta that such behavior is unacceptable in America. The Master’s Tournament is advertising driven which means that if golf fans are truly offended by Augusta, there is only one way to effect their bottom line.