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. DC

    Privacy and private clubs go hand-in-hand.

    April 8, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Bill

    It occurs to me that the same women who are claiming chauvinism over Augusta, would have a cow if a male used the same logic to join a "women only" health club. At least Augusta supposedly allows women as guests...

    April 8, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. TGO

    Augusta is a Private Club – as a private club they can pick and choose their members and they have every right for those members to be gender specific. What is the big deal? If you are so concerned about it, start your own private club and make your own membership rules. We are NOT all equal, get over yourself and champion some cause that is worth your time and effort. God, I am glad I have better things to do and I am so happy the Master's is over for the year – so I won't have to hear about this crap until this time next year.

    April 8, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. latina

    Hey, as woman and whose husband also plays Golf I have no problem with the Augusta Ban. The problems is that Obama Administration is doing all this crap for the womans vote.. I am a Latina an American who will vote regardless
    what the Obama Admin, BS pulls. It is probably some gay guy who wants to see all the men in the locker rooms. Obam needs to find a new job instead of using women for his political kicks. Stop this BS now. I am voting for " Mitt"

    April 8, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • indyfan2

      You are stupid.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
  5. latina


    April 8, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. latina


    April 8, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ComeOnMan9

    I love golf enough to respect it's traditions. I have no need to bang on the door to bring my female 25+ handicap to that pristine holy ground of golf. Go Bubba!

    April 8, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Very funny and well said.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. fkay

    I don't see anything wrong with an all male club. Look at the pope and the Catholic Religion woman are not allowed to be priests and priests are not allowed to marry women. It is an all male club.

    April 8, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • MG

      Men aren't allowed to be nuns. What's your point?

      April 9, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  9. Monkin

    Women don't need to be in man clubs, go back to the kitchen and make me something to eat.

    April 8, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cranbrook Doula

    How the hell are women okay with this???? It's NOT okay, private club or not, to refuse entry based on ones genitals. If Augusta didn't allow BLACK members, the PGA would have refused to hold tournaments there, there would be a media outcry, the ACLU would be all over that sh**. Just goes to show you have very UNFAR we've come, baby.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      So you're OK with the ladies opening up "Curves" workout clubs or any private ladies clubs to men?

      April 9, 2012 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
    • phil

      Really? This is a prviate organization. The ACLU can't and shouldn't do anything. So do you have a problem that the PGA is men? Do you have a problem the the LPGA is women? Do you have a problem with the thousands of women- only groups that exists in the world? Your comments are lacking in intelligence which hurts your "cause" more then your percieved outcry of Augusta. Quit feeling sorry for yourself and blaming others for your own inadequacies.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:59 am | Report abuse |
    • james

      if augusta didnt allow black members, it doesnt matter if you think its fair or not BECAUSE IT A PRIVATE CLUB. if im a KKK and wanted to join the NAACP, i could say the NAACP is being racist because they wont let outsiders join. same with women's only clubs. same with gays only clubs.

      everyone in the world fits into social/racial buckets, whether they like it or not.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Actually, Augusta didn't allow black members until 1990-91, and the PGA still managed to have a tournament there every year since 1934. Your point is invalid.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • MG

      So if a male 55 yr old CEO decides to sponsor a 12 yr old girls softball tournament, should he have the right to join the girl's softball league even though he is a 55 yr old male?

      IBM is sponsoring the masters for marketing purposes. If the brand strategy doesn't make sense for IBM, they will change their sponsorship to another event. However, both men and women watch they masters and the viewer probably falls into a demographic that IBM is after.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  11. AVI Converter

    Excellent post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed! Very helpful information specifically the final phase 🙂 I care for such info a lot. I used to be seeking this particular information for a long time. Thanks and best of luck.

    April 9, 2012 at 6:03 am | Report abuse |
  12. pensimmon

    Perhaps, the Augusta National Club would have the grace to allow the LPGA to have a tournament there. I Realise they want to be all "good ole boys" and shut out women from their little club house,well, if that's what they want (although they are happy to take women's money a to attend!!)t, but it would be a gracious and mature gesture to provide the stunning golf course to women for a tournament. How about it Augusta????

    April 9, 2012 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |

    Any lady that is ok with Augusta leaving them out. And to the guy who just wants a lady to fix him some food, be careful for what you wish for.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
  14. ratsass

    All Bloggers are stupid.

    April 9, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  15. Annie

    I have no problem with Augusta being an all men club, but I have a problem with IBM sponsoring the Masters. As a private organization Augusta can exclude whoever they want to, but IBM should be more careful about who they associate with. I think IBM should pull its support of the Masters and put its money in more appropriate places. We all know that IBM wouldn't have supported this years Masters if the club was still excluding black people-it's time for IBM to realize that it's not the best PR for them to be associated with an organization that will will not admit women.

    April 9, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • paul

      If you have a problem with an all-male club. Fine. You have a right to your opinion, and Augusta National has a right to its opinion. I can't join the LPGA tour nor can I join the Congressional Black Caucus. Life goes on and its not always fair.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Could you explain in detail, how you know for sure that Virginia Rometty wasn't offered a membership, and that Virginia Rometty isn't a member right now? She was there for Masters, and had a very good VIP seat.

      Augusta is a very conservative bunch. If Virginia Rometty was a member, I am sure she (and IBM) would want to maintain that being a secret to avoid media attention.

      April 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Women are still welcom to attend and play with those who are members. It is not that they don't want women there ever its that they cannot become members.

      April 9, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • J Hellenbrand

      I could not have said any better myself! IBM: Women/African American/Native American/Hispanic..none of us should be subjected to the out-dated "white men rule" and with your advertising dollars, you have the clout to pull off this rejection of discrimination.

      April 9, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
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