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. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    I'm not a member of that private club in Augusta, so the club's membership policy is none of my business.
    I'm glad that I'm intelligent enough to realize that.

    April 5, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • xfool

      Every golf course has a "Mens Club" where "men" play together. If women can play from the same tee and not require special concessions I say keep them on their side of the tracks all the same thank youVERY MUCH!

      April 5, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  2. oscarclove

    Reblogged this on Love Views and commented:
    I'm amazed by the fact people in the media are this stupid

    April 5, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Duluth

    “Congress shall make no law abridging the right of the people to peaceably assemble.” Freedom of assembly, baby: The individual right to come together and collectively express, promote, pursue and defend common interests.

    Why the perpetual liberal penchant for tyrannical control? Why can’t I pick my own friends and golf with who I want? Why always the social engineering? What is the left’s problem with freedom?

    If women want a golf tournament of their own, rock on. There are plenty of mixed tournaments. I don’t see golfers yammering to get into the Curves ladies-only gym, or any other exclusive event. Quit with the radical egalitarianism already.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sheepleherder

      I think you missed the whole point of the argument. Women are not demanding to be included in a men's tournament, they are asking to be allowed to be a member, the same as men.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      That's interesting, because I would call the August refusal to admit women members to be tyrannical control.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • jay

      Yeah baby, and I want to be in the miss universe contest, and get some ladies nite free drinks too,

      April 5, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. To Each Their Own

    Who cares? It's their club. If you don't like their rules then why would you want to join? Go start your own club if that's your thing.
    Their club, their rules. Why must we try to insert ourselves into every situation as though it were a challenge?

    April 5, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. xmxm

    I want to be able to enter YWCA.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Matt

    I'd say women are untroubled because they too understand it is one of the most boring 'activities' to watch. I think half the time people play it is because they want t display they're wealth and try to diversify themselves from the 'regular individual.'

    April 5, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Alyssa

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

    Times changed 40 years ago. Time for Augusta to catch up.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Myto Senseworth

      Men need a place to get away from women for a while(Unless they are gay and act like a women)....get a life.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      This would not stop men from being able to be with each other, and excluding women, if that's what they choose to do. But somehow allowing a woman to walk through the front door is an affront to male bonding?

      April 5, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • A

      Catch up to what exactly, Alyssa? There are quite a few women's only clubs in existence - I don't see you worried about their lack of male representation. Any woman can golf at Augusta if she wants to, whether she qualifies on the pro-tour or not. It's feminist bigots who hypocritically slam anything that men do as a group as being misogynist while simultaneously ignoring the myriad of women's only clubs/beneficial laws in existence (hello DV shelters and the Violence against Women Act!). You sound like one of them.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • rob

      maybe it's time for curves to catch up...guys wanna a place to hang out without women, what's wrong with that alyssa?

      April 5, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Z

      @ Alyssa, NO PROBLEM... I am a man and would like to attend your next GYNO visit. If you find that offensive TFB!

      April 5, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. john smiith

    Yep. This is just something CNN is trying to stir up.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Hank A.

    So what happens when women are allowed to join because of "power lunches" and the conversation is taken in to the steam room? I guess she will have to join the boys in the steam room, sitting on a towel, naked, watching old guys scratch what ever itches as they discuss business.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      If that's what she chooses to do, then sure.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • A

      Alyssa, are you ready to afford that same courtesy (of women going into male steam rooms) to men who wish to enter female only bathroom spaces to hear the latest gossip? Considering you're an equalist and all, of course. .

      April 5, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • ann2323

      You act like its something many women haven't been privileged witnesses to, haha.

      April 5, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Aj

    People will excuse anything in the name of tradition. If we go by Tradition as an excuse, even Segregation would be a nice to have for many in today's world. Reality is, not allowing Women to join what is clearly an aspirational club shows a clear gender bias that is discriminatory.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

      @ Aj:
      We understand "gender bias."
      I think that you may not understand "private," and "private" as opposed to "public."
      Look those words up.
      Look up "freedom" while you're at it.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • WakeUP

      This is a MEN's club. Like Curves, YWCA, and many other WOMEN's club, it is gender specific. Would you like to join the NAACP, AARP, or other clubs while you are at it?

      People only want to join clubs they are not allowed to be in and the walls must be torn down if they are for anything other than a "minority" club. Hypocates!!!!

      April 5, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • A

      Where is your chagrin towards the myriad of women's only clubs that exist, and the fact that our laws benefit women absurdly over men (such as educational assistance, cancer funding, DV shelters, incarceration rates, homelessness, and overall death rates)? Are those not also of note, considering MOST men aren't allowed at Augusta either, but MOST are affected by the above? Hmmm...

      April 5, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Myto Senseworth

    G-O-L-F = Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden.......It's none of your business how they run their club.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Enzo

    I really do not care. Private club, have whatever rules you want.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Geoz

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

    This is a sign of a gated life. Even if you disagree, meet some people.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  14. banasy ©

    Big whoop de do.
    So much ado about nothing.
    Where's the guy with the oramge "Iron My Shirt" sign?
    Now *that* was funny!

    April 5, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bubba™

    Trump changed the rules for miss universe so a woman (now) that was a male (lol) (at birth) and for most of his life. Can be admitted to the miss universe contest.

    What next? If the CEO of IBM wants the honorary membership, she is free to become a man.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      I can see that your name suits you.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Myto Senseworth

      Bubba...Now that is forward thinking. I wish I had thought of that.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
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