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. Joan Wheeler

    Golf balls to the patriarchy and all its supporters.

    April 5, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. MnStan

    "Men only tradition" supports the practice of powerful men to continue the tradtion of keeping a "lid" on women. I woud urge IBM to pull out their participation if Augsta decides against accepting their CEO just because she is a woman. It would be very positive PR for IBM. IBM will be viewed as a company that stands up for its CEO and sends a message to all its female employees that they are valuable.

    April 5, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay in NC

      So, do you think that men should be allowed to play in the women's golf tournament? Is it OK that they have their womens club?

      April 5, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Buzzer

      Keeping "a lid" on women is the last think on these guys minds at the club...they're probably thankful there is a place they can get away from them for a while...just like women do with women only clubs... MOST men don't wear their feelings on their sleeves and constantly turn things into something bad and think every rule is meant to "keep someone down"...

      April 6, 2012 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
  3. clarke

    I really don't care. So let them have their space.

    April 5, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. M

    I don't have a problem with any group excluding anyone else. If you don't want my demographic in your restaurant, in your cab, in your country club, your place of worship, etc... If for whatever reason you don't want my contribution, then I'll take it where it can be appreciated. How did this desire of wanting an oasis for people who remind you of you, where you don't have to efface yourself for the sake of social harmony, become right for everyone except white males?

    April 5, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Nancy

    I am fine with private individuals forming a club for any legitimate purpose. If men want to get together with other men, okay by me. But at Augusta National, the male members encounter women frequently. Women are there as staff and, of course, as guests of members. What benefit does male-only membership confer exactly? What I am not okay about is the ridiculous, sentimental reverence that the Masters tournament evokes, the big sponsorship, and the TV air time and media coverage. Leave Augusta National to itself, entirely to itself. I'd encourage sponsors to abandon their support.

    April 5, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Andrea M

    I think it's a good thing. The ban on women frees ladies to follow much more interesting pursuits. Golf just might be the most boring sport on the planet, the ban simply gives women an out from having to play with their husbands.

    April 5, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. berman

    Wow, imagine that...nobody who would actually go to the Masters/Augusta actually cares. This whole "scandal" is the product of bored reporters and a 24/7 news cycle. PS...women are allowed to play golf at Augusta.

    April 5, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Stu

    I assume this means that there will also be an end to all women health clubs, social clubs, golf tourneyments, etc. Changing Augusta will solve nothing.

    April 5, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Z

    Good for the goose good for the gander... We now have co-ed Baby Showers, we can also have Co-ed Locker Rooms, bathrooms and Gyno Visits! You asked for it, you got it !!!! Dont complain when it doesnt work out so well for you

    April 5, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Brian

    So what if IBM pulls it's sponsorship, there must be a long line to take their place. Masters has a large viewership. Have to say, it's never ever crossed my mind to join any woman only club. Why would I???

    April 5, 2012 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Cooper

    Not to allow her would be breaking tradition as they have always extended membership to the executives at IBM. One way or another, a tradition will be broken. Whether to allow her as an IBM executive who happens to be a woman or to deny her because she is a woman and therefore breaking the IBM executive membership tradition. Whatever is one to do?

    April 5, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lowblow

    It isn't a big deal and women I talk to don't care

    April 5, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. pijoe

    As a man I support ANY private women's membership club. There are SOO many other places for me to go. I respect the fact that they want to be in a place from time to time with other women without men around. I believe most women feel the same regarding any men's club. Some don't and that is IMO pathetic to say the least. I would ask those busy bodies with their noses pressed up against the club house window to just stop worrying that some MAN is getting something they're not. Get your own thing...and stop WHINING..

    April 5, 2012 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. octopus

    The tradition should not be changed.

    Mixed membership routinely leads to ørgies on the field between families as well as unmarried members, and it was linked to decline in craftsmanship among golfers.

    April 5, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. James

    They'll let blacks in but not women. Geez the place is all ready ruined by that. What difference would it make ? Except for Laquisha & her 9 kids using the pool !

    April 5, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bubba™

      That was a terrible thing to say..

      But true, even the white house has the mother-in-law living there. Its all slummed up now too.

      April 5, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cal Worthington

      Hate much?

      April 5, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
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