- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 8, 2002

Martha Burk has enlisted another key ally in her fight against Augusta National Golf Club.
Burk, who leads the National Council of Women's Organizations, yesterday received written support from U.S. Olympic Committee chief executive officer and Augusta member Lloyd Ward to seek to open up membership at the all-male Augusta National to women.
Ward marks the third prominent executive and Augusta member in four days to offer their support to Burk. Citigroup chairman Sanford Weill also wrote the NCWO to say he would like to begin talking about admitting a woman to Augusta. Harold "Red" Poling, the former president of Ford Motor Co., similarly said he thought a female member was in Augusta National's future.
"Lloyd Ward sent us a very nice letter saying he would work assertively to open up the club membership," Burk said. "This is very, very encouraging. There is now a groundswell of support for [allowing women] developing, and when a groundswell like this starts happening, I think people want to lead and not simply be followers."
Ward is only one of a handful of black members at Augusta.
"I am working with others who are members of Augusta National Golf Club who share the belief that the organization should include women in its membership ranks," Ward wrote. "It is my intent to aggressively work for that reform."
Ward went on to say he was "committed to breaking down barriers which exclude women from membership at Augusta in the weeks and months ahead."
The expressions of support from Ward and Weill represent by far the most success Burk has had in leading her four-month fight against Augusta, corporate sponsors supporting the Masters and CBS, which televises the tournament each year. Prior to these responses, statements from the club, TV network, and individual companies had ranged from dismissive to combative to the NCWO's demand for change.
Both Ward and Weill were specifically targeted by Burk and other NCWO leaders to receive individual letters asking them to reconcile their Augusta membership with formal policies prohibiting discrimination at the other organizations they lead. The NCWO ultimately plans to mail about four dozen such letters to Augusta members.
Augusta National executives declined to comment, as has been their policy since initially responding to the NCWO in July, saying it would not change its membership "at the point of a bayonet."
Rep. Amo Houghton, New York Republican, and Motorola chief executive Christopher Galvin, two other Augusta members, also responded yesterday to NCWO overtures, saying the issue was private club business.
"I was very disappointed in that," Burk said. "Amo Hougton is a public official, and this position I find absolutely appalling."
While the Augusta debate remains far from any actual resolution, speculation has already begun at who the club's first female member might be. Early suggestions include U.S. Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor; legendary pro golfer Nancy Lopez, who recently said she had no problem with Augusta's current membership policies; and Darla Moore, a multimillionaire financier from South Carolina and longtime friend to club chairman Hootie Johnson.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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