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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Filed under: Golf • Sports
soundoff (396 Responses)
  1. darmonx

    whats withthe obsession of getting into this golf course? NOW should just buy a plot of land, put 18 holes in it and exclude males from membership! get off your high horses...no one is stopping you from building your own augusta.

    April 6, 2012 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Howard

      No one is on a high horse. As the article states, women don't really care about it.

      April 6, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  2. ljhays

    As a woman, I don't know why this continues to be a topic for discussion. Who cares what a bunch of Y-chromosomes does with its little golf club. Let them have their man cave; move on.

    April 6, 2012 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  3. Brig

    It is a private club. They will decide their policy with the members. Our opinion really doesn't matter. So move on to another subject.

    April 6, 2012 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  4. Skeptic

    What's wrong with the "male only" golf club? You never heard of women wanting to join the men only bath houses.

    April 6, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
  5. brian

    Most southerners were happy with jim crow laws too. It was tradition. The old south still stands.

    April 6, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • jwarino

      this has nothing to do with jim crow. geez extremists are weird.

      April 6, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. brian

    So everyone would be fine if they still excluded blacks?

    April 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • jwarino

      if shes a woman yea.duh

      April 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. LinzK

    I'm a woman who was raised in Georgia. I would generally consider myself post-feminist. Would it be nice if Augusta National decided to include women in its membership? Yes. But should the American people harass a private organization into doing something it doesn't want to do? Seems like a bad precedent to set. In America, private organizations/clubs have the right to include who they want. I think this falls under the careful-what-you-protest-for category.

    April 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. LisaH

    I absolutely believe they should follow tradition...which is to extend membership to IBM company officers. Breaking that tradition and failing to extend membership to Virginia Rometty is not only unfair but (a far worse sin in the South) RUDE.

    April 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • jwarino

      you don't get it, she don't care.

      April 6, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chuck Connors

    "Times are changing" – transalation: men are having everything taken away whether it's deserved or not for the sake of political correctness.

    April 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. COldWarVet75

    So why is this different than the men ban at "Women's Workout World"?

    April 6, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BAROWNER

    I think we should respect a private club's membership rules. They do not take public money and all of the sponsors are there because they want to be. Would the La Leche league admit men??? I think not.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. IBM'r, well kinda...

    The point is that the new CEO of IBM is a female. IBM is a sponsor of the event. In the past, ALL IBM head honchos were "invited" into the "club"... It will be interesting if IBM pulls sponsorship if she is not "invited". I will volunteer to represent, if they would actually hire American people instead of contractors and persons in other parts of the world.. (75% of IBM employees are located outside of the United States)

    April 6, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Burbank

    IBM should simply withdraw monetary support, it's an insult to it's top executive who happens to be female. After all, the exclusivity is all about money anyway, so hit back where it hurts the most!

    April 6, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Sloane1893

    Your ovaries are in the inside, therefore, you are inferior.

    This place is a tale of terror.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Pendy

    Augusta National is a PRIVATE club. Whatever the merits of a no-women policy, that policy is THEIR business, and no one else's.

    April 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • ann

      True – it is a PRIVATE club. West Point used to be private; the Citadel was private; most branches of the military used to be all-men. Looky here – they got with the times and changed. Not saying Augusta has to change, but.........

      April 6, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trevor

      See if you same BS logic works at a private college.

      April 6, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      I agree. If these complaining women want to join a club, let them join another or make their own club and not admit men. I remember this crap back in the 80s when women began saying that they felt jilted because they could not join a man's club. Big deal. Who cares. Why all this stupid "he said, she said" from these babyboomer hippies. All they do is want t to fight and argue over everything. I wish this generation would just go away.

      April 6, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
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