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.

Post by:
Filed under: Golf • Sports
soundoff (396 Responses)
  1. dave

    If they changed their rules 99% of women still could not get in - this is a RICH AND POWERFUL persons club

    April 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Erwin Steucke

    I looked and looked in this article for the VALIDATION ON THE 'many women' There is no such validation from which I conclude that CNN once again has trouble dealing with facts. I guess I will give up on CNN and go to AOL. At least youcan believe what they say- or they don't say it.

    April 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ann

    Question: Does Augusta employ women to serve the men-only club? If yes, then they need to allow women as members; if no, then they can continue with their tradition that leaves them stuck in the previous century.

    April 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tee

    The women in Augusta are extremely passive individuals. Blacks and minorities particularly. Whatever the white man or the establishment tells them, they are fine with it. Black people are afraid to vote, afraid to speak up, afraid of their own shadow, I know because I have some cousins there, that think it is the 1900's. I have a cousin who can't even park his own 18 wheeler in his backyard, where he pays taxes and everything. GOLF stands for Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden, actually women were not suppose to be allowed to join Country Clubs anyway.

    April 6, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jane

    Clubs like these who openly discrimenate are not cool anymore. I plan to boycott their sponsers. IBM, Exxon Mobil Corp. and AT&T Inc.

    April 6, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harlon Katz

      Go ahead – I don't know how many IBM mainframes you are buying, so it may or may not make a difference. Plus, Exxon Mobile is giving away an extra 0.15 cash back on gas right now, so it is your loss.

      April 6, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Why? Do you lose sleep at night? Really? Get a grip.

      April 6, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ty

    Why is this anyone's business. The only reason women want in is to make money, that is it. Why can't men have something that is theirs and only theirs. If they are forced to let women play in this tournament, than all female only sports will HAVE to accept any male into their team. START YOUR OWN ALL WOMENS CLUB AND SEE HOW MANY MEN WANT TO BE A PART OF IT. PUT THE EFFORT TO START YOUR OWN CASH COW, STOP TRYING TO PUSH YOURSELF INTO AN ALREADY WELL ESTABLISHED CLUB. STOP BEING LAZY!!!!

    April 6, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dr. Deena

      Ty– do you have a clue what this discussion is about?? It has NOTHING to do with women playting in the Masters Tournament. It has to do with whether or not women are allowed to join the Augusta National Golf Club. Just so you know, joining the Club doesn not give you a free pass to play in ANY tournament. You have to be a card carrying PGA golfer meeting specific criteria to even be considered for this tournament. The women have their own golf tournaments under the LPGA. This has nothing to do with tournament play– it's about club membership currently being open to MEN ONLY. The CEO of one of the main sponsors (IBM) is a woman, and ANGC will not allow her club membership even though they've made it availble to every single MALE CEO at IBM ever since they became a sponsor. Read Ty, read!!!

      April 6, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jan

    Slavery was a pretty quaint tradition. Keeping blacks out of baseball and golf was quaint. Denying women the right to vote – traditional and quaint. Denying the CEO of IBM membership just because she has breasts and lacks testicles – disturbing. How does Tiger stomach this knowing Blacks were not allowed at the Masters (except as caddys) until 1975. Blacks could not be members until 1990. The PGA will not allow tournaments at racially segregated clubs. Why the difference for gender segregation? There is no good answer. Tradition is not a good answer.

    April 6, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Harlon Katz

      Jan – are there any organizations that exclude men – I know there are some gyms. Are you in favor of closing them down as well, all in fairness of course?

      April 6, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sillyscared

      Why do some women care is my answer? If their was an all women's only club I would not feel slighted in the least. I'd say good for them and play elsewhere. You can't have everything.....

      April 6, 2012 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Harlon Katz

    Freedom of assembly – just because they are rich and "powerful" does not mean you can force them to "assemble" with you. Now, IBM can pull its sponsorship if they want to. The thing is, the new CEO will need to decide if that is in IBM's best interest. It is all about publicity – IBM views its sponsorship of the Masters as valuable. I am sure if IBM drops it, some other company will take it over, which may not be in IBM's best interest.

    April 6, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Harlon Katz

    I think we need to ban all the "Women's" colleges that refuse to admit men. In fact, we should force them to provide scholarships and such until the number of men enrolled matches the overall population. Otherwise, it is not FAIR.

    April 6, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. GTA

    For all those who are operating under the assumption that Augusta National GC is closed to women but is open to men, try again. The average man in the street cannot get anywhere near the place, and likely never will.
    ANGC is one of the most exclusive clubs anywhere in the world. Prospective members do not apply, they are invited.

    April 6, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. tallulah13

    Augusta is a private club, but it takes money from corporate sponsors when it holds it's tournaments. They are taking money from a company that has a female CEO. If they want to be a boy's club, they shouldn't take the money.

    April 6, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Prince Albert

    Belizean Grove:

    The group’s roughly 115 “grovers,” as members call themselves, include ambassadors and top executives of Goldman Sachs, Victoria’s Secret and Harley-Davidson. They meet each year for an annual retreat in Belize or another Central American destination, as well as occasionally in New York and other cities for outings described as “a balance of fun, substantive programs and bonding.”

    One tiny thing – they don't acept Men

    April 7, 2012 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  13. eroteme

    'Most Augusta patrons seem untroubled by male-only membership'. Obama will take care of this, he sees potential votes out there for his reelectikon.

    April 7, 2012 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  14. Martin Walters

    Glad to see some women have enough self esteem to not be threatened by a fraternity. Start your own sorority, it's a free country. Right? It also allows economic exclusions, no one is complaining about that.

    April 7, 2012 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  15. plumbrite

    this should not be in politic's,the president should be running the country not the golf course

    April 7, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • e

      The President has nothing to do with it. Try reading the article.

      April 7, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard Gauthier

      Augusta is a private club, and, as such, has every right to include or exclude whomever they legally wish. HOWEVER, major corporations have a responsibility to ALL their shareholders, male and female, to act in their best interests. I fail to see how IBM or any corporation, can justify sponsoring or advertising at an event that excludes some of their shareholders. These corporations should use the Free Market (we're all in favor of that, right?) to cause the PGA to move elsewhere, or to cause Augusta to change their policies.

      April 7, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16