The first time the all-male membership flap raised its head, most people simply yawned. Polls at the time showed American evenly split on the issue. When the question was framed another way, whether it was all right for executives of companies with policies against gender discrimination to belong to Augusta, 52 percent responded “Yes,” and 35 percent “No.”
Most people apparently bought the argument that as a private club, members had the right to associate with whomever they pleased. Johnson took pains as the fight escalated to moderate his tone. By the time the tournament rolled around, he made Augusta National’s membership rules sound no more exclusionary than the Girl Scouts.
What’s been overlooked so far is that Rometty hardly needs help. She didn’t get where she is by issuing veiled threats or relying on other people to fight her battles. If playing golf alongside a cadre of aging corporate chieftains on the manicured lawn at Augusta matters to her, she’ll find a way to get it done. After all, she’s got more than enough experience beating them head-to-head at much tougher games than golf.
Jim Litke is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at jlitke(at)ap.org and follow him at Twitter.com/JimLitke.