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. MG

    If I'm a male CEO of a vitamin company that targets females and I decide to sponsor equipment at a Curves (a women's only gym), shouldn't I be allowed membership to Curves?

    April 9, 2012 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • paul

      Glad to see somebody gets the point. Everyone is so afraid of all-male club b/c they think a return to Jim Crowe and suffrage are coming next.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • mommadukes

      the difference between Augusta and Curves is that huge business deals go on while these CEO's are playing a round or just sitting in the club house drinking scotch. I dont see Curves' sponsors out there on the elliptical making cutthroat deals and things like that there. That is where you are wrong my friend. I guarantee she isnt wanting membership to play some golf, she wants membership to be able to haggle and make deals.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Doc Deb

      No one will stop you.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • mix it

      MG, yes, you should be granted membership at Curves. I don't believe in male-only or female-only anything. Let's all please evolve sometime soon into a society that doesn't get upset when it's a sausage fest or crowd of femmes. Mix it up. United we stand, divided we fall.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Erica

    Rich people's problems. If the CEO of IBM doesn't care, then we shouldn't, either.

    April 9, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. mommadukes

    I am all for keeping tradition and fraternal orders – things like that – but dont you think that this is going too far? It's like on The Little Rascals where they have the He-Man Woman Haters club that Darla isn't allowed to join. This isn't the Freemasons.. this is just to keep the little honey bunnies out of the way because women don't know how to deal in big business.. sickening

    April 9, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Doc Deb

    Most people didn't have a problem with slavery or segregation; doesn't make it ok. IBM, Gas companies (which are Gov't subsidized) support this golf event with dollars. Don't take sponsorship from companies taking gov't funds if you want to discriminate. And what's the point of being CEO only to be told "you aren't welcome here" ata business that takes your money? She's a fool.

    April 9, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • john smiith

      Most people don't have a problem with slavery? Probably intended as a joke, but really stupid

      April 9, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      @John Smiith: It wouldn't sound quite so stupid if you'd accurately read the comment. He said that most people DIDN'T have a problem with slavery. As in, "at the time." The word he used was "didn't," not "don't." Sure, it sounds dumb if you read it as "don't" - but if you read it as "didn't," which is what he wrote, then it's sadly accurate. For long stretches of world history, slavery was considered A-OK by most people.

      Now, whether denying women full membership in a golf club is really the equivalent of...I mean, slavery? Really? another question entirely. It is a pretty weak comparison. But you still mis-read it.

      April 9, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • angela birch

      Read again, most people did't have a problem with slavery. And that is true. Got to keep your tenses straight.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  5. David L. Jackson

    The point is it's a Private club, they don't take Fed or State dollars, as far as IBM, Augusta National doesn't need IBM, and IBM would be the loser it they pulled their support not The Masters. Again it's private, they have their own set of rules, I can't join, most of us can't . They don't want females, ok, get on with life.

    April 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. WWRRD

    Women can open a golf club if they want.

    April 9, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Josh

    Who Augusta offers memberships too, and who is actually a member, is a secret.

    Virginia Rometty might have been offered a membership. Rometty might be a member right now. Other women might be members. They just might be discrete, which might be why they were given membership.

    We don't know, and probably will never know.

    Augusta is very conservative. Women, if and when any are offered membership, will probably be just as conservative and be glad to keep their membership private and completely out of the news media.

    April 9, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      We'll probably know at some point - we found out when they admitted the first African-American member, after all.

      But you're exactly right that we have no way to know whether she's being considered for membership (or maybe even already a member). First, I doubt this is a quick-moving organization - there's probably some formal mumbo jumbo that has to take place, some meeting that has to be held for electing new members, etc. And it probably happens on some set date that they wouldn't change for Jesus Christ himself. Second, they probably prefer to release news on this sort of thing as far away from the big tournament as possible - so even if she's already a member, they might just not say anything until, say, August.

      So everyone just needs to sit tight and see what happens. I'm hopeful that they'll offer her a spot - it seems like the right thing to do. If they don't, well, it takes all kinds I suppose, and they certainly have the right not to admit her. But it also wouldn't be particularly gentlemanly of them.

      April 9, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Iky23

    HHMM. It suppose to be all Male club b/c they all gays...descretly.... its ovious!!

    April 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MYRA


    April 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Summer

      It has always been a male only club. Big deal. Get over it.

      April 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Pete

    If women have a problem with men only golf clubs, then I have a problem with women only workout facilities. Not sure what the true reasoning behind Augusta is, but sometimes men just want to hang around men and women just want to be around other women for various reasons. This isn't a civil rights issue.

    April 9, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • angela birch

      I don't care about Agusta becasue it will change But I do know the reason behind curves. A business man thought women might like to have a place to work out where men were not audibly commentingg, were not pinching, and generally not hassled. It turned out that there were enough women that agreed to make it a viable business. Not my cup of tea but some people like it.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. john smiith

    A nonstory

    April 9, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. CatSh

    For all you women who have argued that an all-male club allows the men to network and make deals without including the women – guys do that in the men's room at most any company. I had a female supervisor once that threatened to 'attend' these meetings.
    Ladies, let the men have their space – and let's make better use of our own 😉

    April 9, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JOSE0311USMC


    April 9, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Nick Pettinato

    Men should protest segregation in restrooms. No one should have the right to make a section of the building "women only." Men should have access too. 🙂

    April 10, 2012 at 6:04 am | Report abuse |
  15. Nick Pettinato

    No, I'm not being sarcastic. EQUALITY means EQUALITY. Not supremacy. You don't get access to male-only clubs and men don't have access to women's. Equality goes both ways and people need to start enforcing that.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:05 am | Report abuse |
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