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That led to an exchange between reporters and Payne that, while testy, bordered on comical. Pressed several times on what he would tell his granddaughters about their chances of joining the club, Payne finally answered:

“My conversations with my granddaughters are also personal.”

OK. What would Payne tell a reporter’s daughters?

“I don’t know your daughters,” Payne replied.

If IBM’s Rometty wanted to make it an issue she certainly could, but so far she and the company, at least publicly, seem satisfied with being one of the three major sponsors of the Masters and leaving the push for change to others. And, as a pressing social issue, equality at Augusta National doesn’t exactly rank up there with making sure every child in America grows up able to read and write.

Burk herself is watching this one from afar, not about to get burned again. Still, she couldn’t help but tweak IBM and the green jackets who caused her so much grief.

“I think it’s astounding that one of the largest corporations in the world is having their strings pulled by a bunch of old guys in Augusta,” she said.

That’s the way things happen at the Masters. No one dares tell the guardians of Augusta National what to do, or when they should do it. It may be a benevolent dictatorship, but no one doubts it is a dictatorship.

By the time Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy tee off Thursday, the IBM issue likely won’t matter much. Attention will turn to the golf itself and the issue will be forgotten for at least another year.

Best of all, the pimento cheese sandwiches will still only be a buck fifty.


Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at) or follow at