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Historic Step for Women! Augusta Accepts First Women Members in 2012
In a historic advancement for the recognition of women’s rights the Augusta National Golf Club, the home of the Masters, has opened its doors to women. Under extreme pressure, especially from the PGA Tour, it opened its doors to blacks in 1990. For two decades it has been under pressure from national women’s groups to open its membership to women. It has finally happened.
Whether it is meaningful or just a token gesture will have to await further membership offers, but it is a first step and was greeted with praise from all quarters.
The first two women members are former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore.
“This is a joyous occasion,” said Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne, who has had to stonewall the subject since he became the chairman in 2006. It was ten years ago that Chairman Hootie Johnson withstood his ground against a protest led by Martha Burk of the National Council of Women’s Organizations.
“These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership,” Payne said in a statement. “It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their green jackets when the club opens this fall. This is a significant and positive time in our club’s history and, on behalf of our membership, I wanted to take this opportunity to welcome them and all of our new members into the Augusta National family.”
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem released the following statement, “The PGA TOUR commends Augusta National Golf Club on the news that it has invited Condolezza Rice and Darla Moore to become its first women members. At a time when women represent one of the fastest growing segments in both playing and following the game of golf, this sends a positive and inclusive message for our sport.”
Augusta National, which opened in December 1932 and did not have a black member until 1990, is believed to have about 300 members.
Moore, 58, first rose to prominence in the 1980s with Chemical Bank, where she became the highest-paid woman in the banking industry. She is vice president of Rainwater, Inc., a private investment company founded by her husband, Richard Rainwater. She was the first woman to be profiled on the cover of Fortune Magazine, and she made a $25 million contribution to her alma mater, South Carolina, which renamed its business school after her.
Rice, 57, was the national security adviser under former President George W. Bush and became secretary of state in his second term. The first black woman to be a Stanford provost in 1993, she now is a professor of political economy at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.
Rice recently was appointed to the U.S. Golf Association’s nominating committee.