- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s gay marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
- U.N. rights chief: Flight MH17 downing possible war crime
- Attack on park in Gaza war kills 10, mostly children
- Calif. protesters to block Israel-owned ships at Port of Oakland
- Obama to give Africa $38M, but tells young leaders: Stop ‘making excuses’ for economy
Column: Augusta has women, but hardly a leader
Question of the Day
AUGUSTA, GA. (AP) - The men in green jackets could barely contain themselves, sitting there smugly as if they had done something to transform the game of golf. Augusta National now has women members and, if it was a long time coming, they now seem to think it’s the best addition to the Masters since flowering azaleas were planted on the back nine.
“It’s just awesome,” Masters chairman Billy Payne said.
Condoleezza Rice surely agrees, though for now she’s not saying. The former secretary of state avoided reporters Wednesday as she made her way around the Par 3 contest, smartly attired in a tailored green jacket over a tan skirt.
Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore are trailblazers in a way, though few outside of golf would confuse their admittance last August to one of the most exclusive clubs in the world to be on a par with some of the great equality battles of the last century.
Indeed, the guardians of Augusta National hardly qualify as visionaries. For years the only places for black people at the club were waiting on tables or carrying the bags of members, and the concept that women could actually be members didn’t take hold until more than a decade after Martha Burk tried futilely to rally support for the cause.
Now that they’re here, though, things couldn’t be peachier. Seems the fears of women running amok on the perfectly green fairways of Augusta National were, shall we say, a bit overblown.
“These two ladies have been very special and it’s just been delightful,” Payne said.
They might have been a decade ago, too, but the green jackets are a stubborn bunch when it comes to changing the traditions that have served them so well. Former chairman Hootie Johnson famously dug his heels in when challenged by Burk, writing her at the time that Augusta National might someday admit women “but that timetable will be ours and not at the point of a bayonet.”
The timetable apparently called for women in 2012, and luckily a few of them were available. They managed to snare a prominent name in Rice, and as an added bonus put to rest any lingering controversy over the membership of America’s most famous golf club.
They could have gone further, but didn’t. On a day when Payne talked about girls and boys putting and chipping on the 18th green the Sunday before next year’s tournament and a day before a 14-year-old from China tees off in the Masters, he also spoke about Augusta National becoming “a beacon in the world of golf” and doing its best to influence others in the game.
Except, of course, the green jackets have no plans of doing any of that. In his annual pre-Masters press conference, Payne refused to give a position on belly putters, declined to take a stand on smoking on the golf course, and wouldn’t even discuss details of Augusta National’s new corporate party complex.
And if you think a delegation from Augusta is going to travel to Scotland to urge members at all-male Muirfield _ host of this year’s British Open _ to also enter the modern world and accept women, well, think again.
“I think they should do what they want to do, and I would not interject the way I feel on the issue,” Payne said.
More like a flashlight than a beacon, but that’s OK. Golf fans, for the most part, don’t care who wears the green jackets, or who sets the rules. They just want to watch Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson battle it out on the back nine on Sunday in the major that means the most.
Augusta National handled the issue of women members the way it wanted to, and if it took them longer than it should, well, the green jackets aren’t entirely to blame. Those playing in the Masters never dared _ or cared _ to push the issue, and there was certainly no outcry among golf fans lucky enough to wander around Amen Corner.
By Mark Davis
The nation founders, the Lone Star State thrives
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- D.C. police chief orders officers not to arrest legal gun owners carrying weapons in public
- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- CURL: Obama, staffers not even pretending any more
- Family of Marine killed in Afghanistan pushes back against cover-up
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- DeSean Jackson working on offensive cohesiveness with Redskins teammates
- Washington Times strikes content and marketing partnership with Redskins
- D.C. seeks stay in order striking down ban on handguns in public
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq