Overheard on CNN.com: Women in Augusta National? How about men in ladies' room?
Demonstrators gather during Masters week demonstrations outside the gates of Augusta National Golf Club in 2003.
April 3rd, 2012
05:58 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Women in Augusta National? How about men in ladies' room?

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

The Masters Tournament is coming to Georgia's Augusta National Golf Club again, and political psychologist Martha Burk argues that IBM CEO Virginia Rometty should use her company's event sponsorship to influence the club's men-only membership. The story outraged many readers, who said private clubs should not feel obligated to change their rules. Others said women should not be denied access to power plays forged on the course. What do you think?

Let women into Augusta golf club

The most-liked comment turned the tables on women.

AlCoholic: "Let men into women-only gyms."

guest203: "And into the ladies' room. If I tried to use the women's bathroom at a stadium I'd be arrested yet every time I go to the men's room their are women there because the line is shorter. Hey Martha, find a short pier and take a long walk."

HJCihak: "Martha, why is it so hard for you to understand? It's a PRIVATE club. They can make their own rules. Just as there's no law that says I have to socialize with you, there's no law that says Augusta men have to allow women into their private sanctum. Personally, I think this whole crusade of yours is nothing more than a way for you to grab your 15 minutes of fame. Please, don't go away mad. Just go away."

This woman's comment in support of the club's men's only status was also very popular.

GSUEagle1982: "I'm a woman, and I personally couldn't care less about getting in there if I were a CEO. I understand the point you're making that business is done on the golf course, but that doesn't negate the fact that business can be done on ANY golf course. Why are you making an issue of something that isn't an issue? I don't understand this. Who cares if they're a men only club? Further, who cares if they're black, white, hispanic, or anything else only? It's a private club, and if they don't want women in there then they're not going to make deals with them in there, regardless of whether they're strong-armed into allowing them or not. I'm all for anti-discrimination, but we're talking a golf club's membership here, not someone's hiring practices!"

But another reader - gender unknown - said they feel conflicted.

dhk57: "Rats. I hate it when I find myself on the side of the humorless, strident ultra-feminists. But unfortunately, that's the case here. Or maybe not – maybe I'm just on the side of the businesswomen, who are more concerned with getting the job done and advancing their own careers than with haranguing the rest of us about their list of gender grievances. Those are the real feminists. Nevertheless, much as it pains me to say it:

1) Burk is (ugh!) right. This isn't about access to a golf club; there are other, far better places to play golf. This is about access to the kinds of backroom deals that go down daily at Augusta. By locking women out of these deals, you make them less attractive for top management positions, even when they would be the first choice based on personal merit.

2) I don't understand how some commenters have conflated this issue with Title IX or Constitutional issues Yes, however repugnant we may find it, the government has no place prohibiting private clubs that take no public monies from having discriminatory admissions policies. But Burk is not proposing that they do - she is proposing a private solution (citizens and companies withdrawing their support) for a private problem. Is there a law against that?

3) Having a men-only club in 2012 is just stupid. As has been repeatedly said, we would not be having this conversation if it were a whites-only club. If the old boys really need a break that badly from their mink-stole'd, giant-sunglass-wearing, rat-dog-carrying trophy wives for a few hours, put a Versace store in the clubhouse. They won't need to talk to them again until it's time to go. But don't lock out the real women."

Mars and Venus aren't just planets.

WilltheFree: "I get Martha's point, but I don't think she understands people at all. As a man, at times I want to socialize with 'the guys' without any women around. It just so happens that this Augusta club provides that release for its members. I also understand from my women friends that they like to have 'girl time.' And I think both those requests are perfectly OK. It just so happens that's what Augusta provides for men. Yes, it's rooted in history and probably discrimination, but that's what it provides today. And as a private club, there's no reason why they can't do that. Martha's position is as silly as they come. If there was a ladies-only club that did the same thing and my wife wanted to join, she'd be welcome to. And this is such an obvious statement to me that Martha's position only makes her appear overly radical, and much less credible than a normal, mature adult."

Where do you make your big deals?

JanetMermaid: "Wow, so many posters (I'm assuming men based on the comments) truly don't get it. These types of facilities are where the serious deals are made. It isn't about golf, as the article says. It isn't about women wanting to play too. It is about a CEO of a major corporation being denied access to the same deals and plans that other corporate CEOs get just because she is female. Obviously none of you has ever been in a position where who you know and where you are seen with them is of equal (or more) importance than your title alone. It isn't about exclusion as a woman. It is about exclusion as a CEO."

Amegioa71: "Deals are made in the restroom too, so are women to allowed to harass us at the urinal too?"

This one goes out to the "Titanic" fans.

accorn: "Men are expected to sacrifice themselves on lifeboats, yet in the name of equality, I've got to let them play golf with me. Next time I'm on a sinking boat, I'm finding a feminist to throw overboard."

What's your take on this sporting conundrum? How's your swing? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Golf • Overheard on CNN.com • Sports
soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Dean

    Here's an idea... get Ellen DeGeneress, Oprah, Rosy O'Donnell, and two hundred and ninety seven other wealthy women together... have them all chip in to build a fabulous golf club... and don't allow men... really, we won't care....

    April 5, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. EmmyLou

    The problem is not that Virginia won't be allowed in the club, it's that her company is sponsoring the event. I suspect no one would expect a male CEO to accept that an event his company pays for denies him full participation.

    Get a grip on yourselves, folks. Virginia has the smarts to get where she is, then she's got the smarts to handle this to best benefit herself and the company. She doesn't need advice from the peanuts who think they know all the answers.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fed Up!

      The problem is to many people in this country like to stir the @#$( pot and create as many problems as they can for anyone they can. So her company is sponsoring the event, well duh, don't you think then she would have known from the get go that she wasn't allowed in??? What real difference does it make? What has she truly lost by not being there? Now think about the damage she's done, with regards to any potential future deals. Was it worth it???

      April 5, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Humpman

    @ Dean Thank You finally someone with a little Logic. Thats what i have been saying since this whole issue popped up. Im all for equality so women get out there start helping build roads and buildings.....O wait guess you really don't want it to be that equal huh.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Luke Easter

    Women At Augusta National & The Masters

    This is the Super Bowl of golf, yes; “The Masters” is taking place,
    And this week a million women will have a rearranging of their face,
    Husbands, boyfriends, johns, black eyes, broken nose, busted lips,
    Main concern at Augusta National, will a female get a membership?

    Priorities are pushed aside or were they ever there in the first place?
    Focus on golf as women by untold millions are abused is a disgrace,
    Rory, Hunter, the top players in the world, the likes of Tiger & Phil,
    Drugged & knocked up in a back ally, there’s the morning after pill.

    Most women still do not get equal pay along with plenty of disrespect,
    Rule of thumb for sponsorship to IBM because they write the check,
    Whomever the CEO, a membership at this prestigious golfing venue,
    Yet the current boss is Ms. Virginia M. Rometty so, something new?

    Announcements about everything from sand traps to the wet greens,
    And still no word from this exclusive private club what does it mean?
    After all, the men who belong were they not brought about via birth?
    Come on ladies, if these guys don’t want you, what is it really worth?

    Don’t many clubs and organizations have women only members too?
    Look back in history and all the mistreatment gals had to go through?
    Why should 2012 be any different or any other year for that matter?
    Are there not many more important issues than golf for idle chatter?

    Well, if IBM pulls out it’s like drug dealers, another is ready to step in,
    Okay, try not to get in a huff all because of selfish, childish grown men,
    Being raised by mothers who obviously didn’t teach them sisterly love,
    Neither can women don a MLB uniform, swing a bat & wear a glove.

    Never stopped Hillary, Michele, Sarah, Gabby, there are many more,
    No woman alive can effectively bust down every discriminatory door,
    Haven’t women played on the guy’s tour but men never on the LPGA?
    Simply the old adage, “boys will be boys” there’s nothing more to say.

    April 5, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Samuel

    Females have girl only schools, Professinal Vollyball, and Women only gyms, why can't we just have a mens only cub, there many other clubs for men and women out there that are great, why fight over just one club.

    April 5, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. syzito

    It's a mens only club get over it and get a life.

    April 6, 2012 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  7. Tom

    Let's be real folks, yes business deals are made on the golf course. However to argue that Virginia Rometty is "missing out" on business deals because she can't play at Augusta is absolutely asinine. She is the CEO of IBM, there is no businessperson in the world who is going to pass up doing business with IBM because she can't take them out for a round at Augusta. IBM is #18 on the Fortune 500 list, with a 237.7 BILLION Dollar Market Cap ... they'll figure out a way to get the deal done somewhere other than Augusta National. Perhaps hop on the IBM corporate jet to play a round at Pine Valley or Cypress Point, both of which are nicer than Augusta and allow women to play.

    April 12, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
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