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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soundoff (396 Responses)
  1. Your Mother

    Yes, many women have been taught never to question a man's decision, even when that man is openly hostile toward you, and clearly only wants to make you suffer.

    April 7, 2012 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • e

      And women are nto one group who all agree, we are almost like human beings that way.

      April 7, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. supero

    I have attempted to email IBM thru their website on miraculously didn't take and I couldn't submit it. What I said was that the Board of Directors of IBM have put their CEO in an untenable position....she's not welcome at the Masters which IBM is paying LARGE amounts of money to sponsor! This is so ludicrous. Women need to understand they intend for her not to succeed, they are setting her up to fail. If you agree, please write your comments on this website and any other on the works...Rush almost got fired finally.

    April 7, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Justsomeguy

    I find it funny that women are ok with having their own women's only "clubs" (i.e. curves, others like it), but when men try to do the same thing, they get protested, yelled at, and made the center of a bunch of controversy. In one way of looking at it, white males could be the most discriminated group out there.

    April 7, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • YourMother

      Ummm... Women at Curves feel embarrassed to work out in front of men. What is it that the old white men have against women at their posh golf club?

      April 7, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • gc1008

      Sweetie, business deals aren't getting made behind closed doors at Curves.

      April 7, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. native orgonian

    Many people vote (and are brainwashed) into acting against their own best interests. Many organized religions still want us to bow to our husbands, let them run the show, make all of the financial decisions for the family. That is so 1700's. Let us not forget that women are still only earning 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. Where are the street demonstrations and protests against that ridiculous fact? Women, get a backbone, and embrace what should be your equality in this lifetime.

    April 7, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  5. lancehildrew

    As an emergency physician I can only assume there is great entertainment value in reporting about Augusta's male only policy. Really? You are talking about a stupid game where a little ball is hit with a 3 foot stick in a 6 inch hole. Pick up the ball and drop it in the hole. All of you people are self consumed with unimportant stupidity. Women, are you really offened by gender bias over golf. Go volunteer at Saint Judes Hospital and get perspective on the real importance of Human life. I can assure you it has nothing to do with little white balls.

    April 7, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ray

    It' seems like Augusta is still stuck in the 1950s.

    April 7, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. RobertOKUSA

    Just because they can doesn't mean they should. And it doesn't prevent me from criticizing them for it.

    April 7, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. WhoKnewIt

    I'm a woman and I don't see anything "wrong" or "politically incorrect" about this. This really is a non-issue to me. Men have every right to have a "club" that does not included women just as women have that same right. I do get a bit tired of all the PC garbage. Deal with it, women are not invited and that's that, why is that so difficult to accept? And if the CEO of IBM is a woman may I suggest IBM pull their sponsorship of this "club" in the future if it makes them feel better.

    This is what our society has come to. Kids play ball and I can't tell you how many times I have actually laughed at a parent when they tell me "oh, we don't keep score because it would make them feel bad". You know what....LIFE "keeps score", not everyone wins and those that don't need to learn to deal with that....if they can't then they should not be playing. Kids now days don't know HOW to deal with failure, with people that don't like them, with other kids that are "mean". Parents have gone so far overboard with all this that the kids haven't a clue how to behave, how to win, how to lose or how to DEAL with those issues. And it doesn't get any better when they turn into adults.

    I long for the old days when you were playing baseball and your team lost, you had to congratulate the winners and at least LOOK like you meant it....when you weren't picked first to be on a team you had to deal with that, when you won you learned to be humble and sincerely shake hands with the losing team offering them encouragement for the next time. My point? Get over it ladies that are upset, it has nothing to do with your gender, it has nothing to do with you personally the guys just want a club that has a "no girls allowed" sign on the front door and that's ok!

    April 7, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • jj

      Agreed! And women don't really want to hang out with a bunch of good ole boys anyway!!

      April 8, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. TJeff1776

    Men should have a few places to retreat to and be by themselves. Women certainly have them. My wife attends "Curves" and, as a man, I'm not even allowed to sit in the waiting room. There are women colleges. Whats it with these women that can't stand a man's retreat ???. I've never heard of a woman's golf club, BUT why don't they invent one. I just can't imagine any men wanting to invade a woman's golf club.

    April 7, 2012 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. afranco297

    I am a woman and do not have a problem with this. There are many women's organizations which will not admit men. Also there are some women's colleges which do not admit men. So why shouldn't there be some men's organizations which restrict their membership to men?

    April 7, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Conrad

    This is only a problem because the media thrives on trumping up issues and rabble-rousing. I have no problem with an all-women's organization/event, so what's the big deal with something that is all-male? This whole thing is just a way "to sell newspapers" and get people's attention for fifteen more seconds.Yes, women have been enslaved and held in a second-class relationship for so long that society doesn't even recognize it, but this issue is neither going to help or hurt their emancipation. Could we maybe investigate and report on something important?

    April 7, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. gc1008

    It amazes me that people look at this issue as women being excluded from golf, when the real issue is that women are being excluded from power. Business deals get put together and decided long before they ever get to the board rooms and VIP offices. When you have powerful businessmen sitting down in a country club it's not just for golf. This is where policies are made that affect the political climate. This is where plans and decisions are made for buying and selling and deals of all kinds. When women are excluded from that, then there is an unfair advantage in business. Men or women who think this is just about golf are hopelessly naive.

    April 7, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. trollol

    'Male only' means men go there to get away from their wives! Why would you want to take that sanctuary away from them?! CUT THEM SOME SLACK!

    April 8, 2012 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
  14. ormaybeitsjust

    The CEO of IBM should be a man, that's the real problem here. Who does this broad think she is trying to butt her way into a man's job and club? She should just go to Curves like the rest of the good girls that know their place in society, which is raising babies, housework, and keeping their opinions to themselves. I see nothing wrong with excluding women as a group. Men need a retreat away from their wives. Women in business should just accept that, unlike black men, they do not deserve equality. Just like women were last to getting the right to vote, they should be last to golf, last to equal pay, etc.

    April 8, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. uncommonman

    Ms Rometty, as CEO of IBM, has never been told she is not welcome at The Masters, which is an event IBM sponsors. IBM support of The Masters does NOT necessarily mean it supports Augusta National, or should presume it has a right to.

    Membership in Augusta is a completely seperate matter from The Masters – it is just that historically the CEO's of Masters sponsors have been also offered membership in Augusta, and, historically all of those CEOs have been male, until this year.

    The fact that IBM chose a female CEO does not automomatically mean that Augusta National is obliged to change its membership criteria.

    IBM chooses to sponsor The Masters fin furtherance of its corporate agenda. Augusta National has , quite legally, adopted membership criteria which are selective. One has nothing to do with the other.

    April 8, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • LabCab

      Hear that BOZOBAMA.....Say Goodbye in 286 Days.....

      April 9, 2012 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
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