Most Augusta patrons seem untroubled by male-only membership policy
The 2012 Masters Tournament gets under way Thursday morning in Augusta, Georgia.
April 5th, 2012
02:14 PM ET

Most Augusta patrons seem untroubled by male-only membership policy

Augusta, Georgia (CNN) - Ask women at Thursday's first round of the Masters Tournament whether they'd paid attention to the controversy over Augusta National's male-only members policy, and you get a quick reply.

"We were just talking about that," one woman said.

Ask them if they think change is needed, and you get divergent opinions.

"I surely believe women should play golf anytime and anywhere they want to," said Linda Hines of Birmingham, Alabama. "Equality for all, pay and golf."

Why the controversy?

IBM sponsors the tournament, and the club has always extended membership to the company's officers. But IBM's new CEO is a woman, Virginia Rometty. Critics have called on Augusta National to offer her its traditional green jacket.

But Hines, who said she loves golf, believes any change at Augusta must come from within. She said she didn't like the scene in 2003 when Martha Burk, then leader of the National Council of Women's Organizations, led protests outside of Augusta.

"The board of directors has to have an open mind," she said. "Times are a changing."

Speaking to the media Wednesday, club chairman Billy Payne didn't indicate that times would be changing at Augusta.

"All issues of membership are now and have historically been subject to the private deliberation of members," Payne said. "That statement remains accurate; it remains my statement."

Elizabeth Walters of Wilmington, North Carolina, who was at Thursday's first round with her two children and mother, was fine with that approach.

Walters said she sees no need for Augusta to open membership to women and would not let the controversy detract from the tournament.

"It's a wonderful tradition, and I'm happy to be here," she said.

She also said her husband is from Augusta, making her familiar with the area.

"I've never had anyone that I've met here who has a problem with the way things are," she said.

Her mother, Nancy Mengelt, is from Madison, Wisconsin, a liberal area where "we usually have a problem with something," she said.

But she said she had no problem with male-only Augusta National.

"I like all the traditions. I support that," she said.

Support for Augusta came from Down Under, too.

"The club should stick to tradition and not allow women to become members," said Ro Brownie, attending the Masters after flying in from Sydney, Australia.

Brownie said if IBM's Romelty isn't a golfer and doesn't want to play here, she should put a stop to the hubbub.

"She should wave it away," Brownie said.

Ashley Mohrman said she's a member of "a very old conservative club" in Massachusetts, which changed its rules to allow women to become members with their husbands. And it has recently admitted a same-sex couple, she said. But she's not troubled by the Augusta stance.

"I don't think it is a problem for most people," she said.

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soundoff (396 Responses)
  1. Lilly

    I think it's important to let men have some clubs to themselves. It's not anti-women, but just pro-men. Men should be allowed to feel good about themselves.

    April 6, 2012 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
    • jackiesmith

      i know, poor men. where on earth can they go to feel good about themselves! they've had to fight so hard for everything they have, from voting to education to economic rights to contraception. poor menz! how can they feel good when women oppress them so?

      thank goodness for the augusta club. men might have to go to places like congress or the white house or saudi arabia or afghanistan to feel good otherwise. you amazing moron.

      April 6, 2012 at 3:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Do the laundry

      Thank you ever so much for "allowing" men to feel good about themselves. You're so kind. Now, get back in the kitchen and fix my lunch, Dearie.

      April 6, 2012 at 4:30 am | Report abuse |
    • krs

      I can't believe that you are really a woman, as no woman in her right mind would make a statement as moronic and archaic as that. Men don't need their feelings propped up and validated like little children. The fact that you would treat them as such is repulsive.

      April 6, 2012 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. tendem

    OMG next they will be wanting to have abortions there

    April 6, 2012 at 12:57 am | Report abuse |
  3. C Franco

    For those who are so fond of tradition, what about the tradition of extending a membership to IBM company officers? If the men at Augusta National refuse to do that now because the CEO of IBM is a woman, it makes them look like total fools. Can't they see that with a woman as head of IBM it changes everything?

    Women play golf. Women run corporations. Stop living in denial, folks.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Nick

      -no. They can have one rule (no women) nullify another rule (CEO's of sponsors). basically, you can join as a sponsors CEO, unless you are a woman.

      Whats the big deal here anyway? Why cant ladies go start their own golf club and not welcome men?! What spiteful little children.

      April 6, 2012 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
    • Look at it this way

      It doesn't change a thing... and men are men. Stop living in denial Franco.

      April 6, 2012 at 4:32 am | Report abuse |
    • missing the point

      C Franco is correct. In addition, these men who belong to this club are very powerful decision makers in this country. Their influence on national and governmental policy is extensive. Make no mistake, many of these members are quietly running our country from behind the scenes.

      This has nothing to do with golf and anyone who thinks otherwise is deluding themselves. This is about the power wielded by its members, and these men do not want to abdicate that power. The tradition of extending membership to the CEO of the tournament sponsor should be honored. These men are being spiteful little children, Nick, not an intelligent powerful woman who threatens their egos and power.

      April 6, 2012 at 8:12 am | Report abuse |
  4. p4p

    i say... keep the women out of where they are not wanted. we are not the same... you squat when you pee, we dont. you go through pms, we dont... you are bipolar, we seldomly are. we keep it simple, you complicate everything. it's a private club... let it go. MEN ONLY... we want to get away from our women every once in a while (just like the women like to have their time), so get over it... there is a reason child support sways toward women and against men... society believes that women cannot support themselves, dont have the capacity at all to do so. if you want to change something, change that... love, peace and chicken grease

    April 6, 2012 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
    • S.Lutz

      What a pig.

      April 6, 2012 at 5:14 am | Report abuse |
    • krs

      Seriously? Without our bleeding you wouldn't have been brought into existence, which is bittersweet because I think many of us wish that you hadn't. Instead of making sweeping generalizations about gender, why not get off your high horse and look at the facts. This isn't 1912-you don't get to treat us like property anymore.

      April 6, 2012 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
  5. Matt

    One has to wonder if it would ever make news if a women only club did not admit men. It is a private club and they should be able to have whatever backward rules they want. Why doesn't CNN spend some researching the clubs that actually matter if they want to make news of it... like the Skull and Bones, Bilderberg, etc... you know the exclusive clubs that the people who legislate our lives away are all part of. Oh thats right... Augusta does not effect your bottom line like the clubs that matter do.

    April 6, 2012 at 3:09 am | Report abuse |
  6. MJ Soens

    This is a first for The Masters to have a female CEO as head of a corporate sponsor. Augusta National's members, in the "spirit of tradition" will decide, with the class they have alwys shown, a solution. JRZYMLT

    April 6, 2012 at 4:06 am | Report abuse |
    • You betcha

      Yes, they will. No women members. End of discussion.

      April 6, 2012 at 4:34 am | Report abuse |
  7. Brownstain

    Fat old white men who can't get it up any more don't need women around.

    April 6, 2012 at 6:25 am | Report abuse |
  8. Brownstain

    Billy Payne has a dead worm in his shorts.

    April 6, 2012 at 6:28 am | Report abuse |
  9. Brownstain

    Watching golf is as exciting as watching paint dry.

    April 6, 2012 at 6:38 am | Report abuse |
  10. JUGGERNAUT

    PATRONS = OLD RACIST WHITE MALES.

    April 6, 2012 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  11. Geoff Wood

    GOLF = Gentalmen Only Ladies Forbidden

    April 6, 2012 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
  12. SuZie Coyote

    Yes. Let's trot out the Uncle Thomasinas who don't mind at all being discriminated against – "Yes, Massa (Masters)." See! Women don't mind being second class. Not at all....even those uppity CEO women!

    April 6, 2012 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Chuckus

      Exactly. I find many parallels to racial segregation, and these women should be ashamed of themselves for not being outright enraged. I'm enraged and I'm a man. This whole voting on it idea is disgusting too, this should not be up for discussion it should be an outright "Let Women In"

      April 6, 2012 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  13. PumpNDump

    Keep the gashes out. End of story.

    April 6, 2012 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  14. Richard

    Its a private club. They can include whoever they want. This discussion is about a CEO not having access to a ridiculously exclusive club. She can play golf anywhere else she wants. If Augusta was opened to women its not like millions of women would immediately be calling for tee times. Its still $10-20k a year to be a member. I'm a guy, I love golf and I can't play there. I'm not losing any sleep over it. Go play Tour 18.

    April 6, 2012 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  15. T'sah From Virginia

    The men rather be in hot tubs with each other – to each their own. Besides, if women join this club they would be responsible for keeping it clean; no one wants to be around filthiness!!! On top of it all, there are WOMEN clubs and their are MEN clubs – I am sure WOMEN do not want MEN in their private clubs.... think about it!!

    April 6, 2012 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Rebecca

      Most men's clubs don't hold one of the most prestigious major tournaments in golf. Most men's clubs aren't where large business deals are brokered. This is far bigger than golf.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • all for women!

      I agree with T'sah!! I am all for women's equality, blah blah blah, but seriously, some of these women's groups should be careful what they wish for. Do you want men crying about being part of your women only clubs and groups? Sororities and Fraternities are age old organizations and strictly one gender only in each. Augusta isn't being discriminatory – they are just sticking to their age old rules. IF the women are really upset about it.. find a ALL WOMENS ONLY tourney and get promoting it. but hey, be ready for some guys wanting part of it too... what goes around comes around..... touche!!!

      April 6, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Burbank

      I just reported you for abuse, Mr. "Filthy". I think it's you that needs a bath!

      April 6, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Samps

      @ Rebecca
      It’s smaller actually. It’s a private club. If they want to do business with you, you can invite you as a guest or you can meet at the office. You and yours are simply trying to make this a women’s rights issue period. You act like spoiled children and give feminists a bad name.

      April 6, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
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