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. guest666

    Who cares? Golf is for losers.

    April 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. longtooth

    Keep trying CNN. It's almost a controversy !

    April 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • ThiaS

      Clearly you are a man.

      April 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ThiaS

    Shame on IBM and the pro-golfers themselves. There is no Masters without the golfers, they should stand up against the PGA and refuse to play there any longer until a change is made... or if a change won't be made, find another golf club. IBM has so many women at the top of their corporation, how could they support this? They are as much at fault as the PGA and Augusta themselves.

    April 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesse

      You do know that Golf stands for Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden right?
      and if you own a business you have the right to refuse serivce to any person at any time for any reason... it is your property and not theirs. this is how the US works, if you dont like it leave.

      April 5, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      Shame on you for thinking you have the authority to dictate the rules of a PRIVATE club.

      April 5, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Beth

      You do know that golf originates from a gaelic word and has nothing to do with an acronym in English (when the game was invented in Scotland), right? Word fail. Come on, doesn't anyone Snopes anything anymore? In any event, there is nothing illegal about this. If they want to refuse membership to women that's their own deal and the best way to deal with it is to refuse to patronize them or anything related to them. Gee, that will be so hard for me with my intense love of golf...

      April 5, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  4. jim johnson

    Most ordinary southern women don't trouble themselves about the discrimination here. They handle these things differently. If Bubba want his men's club, fine, She will just kick back with one of the older Paula Deen cookbooks, and plan a heart-stopping dinner for him when he comes home from Augusta golfing. Soon he will be dead, and she will have enough money to golf at Pebble Beach and St Andrews for the rest of her life.

    April 5, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kris

    I really do not like the idea of a club excluding women and for decades excluding blacks. So if a restaurant wants to call itself a club, it can exclude blacks, women, Jews and etc, it can.

    April 5, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba™

      GOD BLESS AMERICA!

      April 5, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • jim

      I hope so

      April 5, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ♚Mmmmm♛

    ...i say integrate! or disintegrate! ...lol

    April 5, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ellen Thompson

    Who cares? There is nothing wrong with having a private mens club. There is also nothing wrong with having a private womens club.

    April 5, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. TYHYMAT

    Lets just get real here.......There are thousands of 'WOMEN'S ONLY CLUBS' in the USA........What is good for the goose also works for the gander. ........So all you pushy women ........GET LOST.

    April 5, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. kstarlin1234

    There is a health club in my area called "4 women only" , they don't allow male members. I don't see anyone standing at their door. It's a private club. They can make their own rules..

    April 5, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. KWS

    What a surprise.

    Extremist political agendas and golf don't mix. Who'd a thunk it?

    April 5, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Cindy

    My stepfather was a member of two of the largest country clubs in his state. He was a very influential business man. He said the really big deals are always made on the golf course or in the men's grill at the country club. He had to be a member in order to do the big deals. This IS the glass ceiling for women. If you don't think it matters, ask yourself it is okay that your wife, your daughter, your mother, your sister are not allowed to make as much money as a man doing the same job. It is sick and disgusting. If people want to boycott something that really matters, boycott this.

    April 5, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • TYHYMAT

      What we need to do Cindy is to open up the thousands of 'WOMEN'S ONLY CLUBS' in the USA to men.................Then and only then can we talk BOYCOT.............Life works both ways........RIGHT???????

      April 5, 2012 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Z

      Yes it is !!! When women work as hard at their jobs as men do, then you can have equal pay! Do you know how many maternity days I was given when my children were born??? NONE ! I missed 0 days of work because my boyfriend left me. I missed 0 days of work because of cramps or bloating.

      April 5, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. tiger7970

    So, I agree with the commenters that support the right of private businesses to only serve patrons they want to; i.e. they have a right to exclude women and I think that right should be there.

    However, what a ridiculous tradition. What century do these fools live in? I had to read the story twice to make sure it wasn't something from the 18th century.

    April 5, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  13. crella

    Then there should be no women's tournaments....there are plenty of women's tournaments that don't admit men. Are they really going to go there? Do they want mixed golf, tennis, etc?

    April 5, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ?.

    i don't think women would want to go back to the cave very bad.

    April 5, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. alex

    As a woman, my initial response is to think this is discrimination. But then I think of how much I love having female solidarity and like the idea of women's clubs, be they rowing, golfing, hiking, reading, volunteering, etc. Is that any less discriminatory? I guess "old boys clubs" have negative, discriminatory connotations linked to them because they originated from the days when women were overtly discriminated against, that these "old boys clubs" of the past were places where executive men of influence rubbed elbows with each other and created the policies that in some way contributed to women's disenfranchisement. Today women are grouping together to support each other in our growing advancement in politics, medicine, engineering, science, etc. So, hey, maybe just form an Augusta Women's Golf Club counterpart.

    April 5, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      Completely agree with you. This is not a threat to women's rights. Pick your battles Martha Burk...this is not one.

      April 5, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
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