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. Orlando FL

    What is wrong with guys hanging around with other guys? Let them be men and enjoy themselves!
    We need to be "Open minded" about it and respect their decision.
    If the guys want to "hang around" with other guys – Let them!

    It is one of the few places where the women haven't "invaded their space"
    We have women astronauts, fire fighters, police women, in the armed forces. Nothing wrong with that.

    There are plenty of venues for women to assemble together. A bloger mention "Curves – ladies only gym"
    that is only one of many more outhere.

    We need to respect their space.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alyssa

      Nobody is advocating for guys not being able to hang out with other guys. Granting membership to women does not prevent men from hanging out with each other. They will not be compelled by law to hang out with women if they choose not to.

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

      How dare you be perfectly logical heresy!

      April 5, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dylan

      How dare you be perfectly logical. Heresy! No Logic allowed!

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

      Hypocrite if it was in a Muslim country would you have said the same think

      April 5, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carol

      I agree with Atila! Just get over it.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • LisaH

      The problem is that Curves is not where major business deals are made–golf clubs are.

      April 6, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Why give this publicity

    Allow what is not your business to continue. Stop stirring up problems.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • ann2323

      so that worked well for women prior to sufferage oh and blacks to prior to slavery. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Liz

    As a woman, this nonsense with Augusta doesnt bother me. I say keep traditions as they are. The club has lasted this long, so why try to fix something that isn't broken? Does this woman really even want to be part of the Club? My guess is she doesn't really care either.

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

      Their tradition up until 1990 was not invite African Americans for membership either. Would you have been okay with them maintaining that tradition?

      April 5, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • soul68

      It amazes me what people will agree to just because people have "always done it that way". Adherence to traditions for traditions sake is proof of the fallibility of mankind.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • ann2323

      I will assume you are not upper management or a high level business woman, because yes, it is a form of discrimination in that sense. It's much less about the golf itself and more about the prestige and brokering that goes on in the club.

      April 5, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • real issue is image

      Men and women considering purchasing IBM products and men and women considering doing corporate business with IBM may be negatively affected by the decision of IBM to consider sponsoring a high-profile gender discrimination practice. The issue isn't about the club changing its rules, the issue is about how IBM handles its own image after publically supporting such discrimination. There are two kinds of evil: the people who do evil and the people who support the people who do evil. Both are liable.

      April 9, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Chris B

    Who care's what their excuse is. People pay money to be a member of their club. They have a right to disallow who they want to allow into that club, male/female or otherwise. And besides, why would you want to go into somewhere where you are not welcome anyway? It would be like me demanding to walk into the women's locker room, or trying to bust into the all women's bible study, or sending my son to girl scouts. It is not like you are being kept from playing golf, you are just kept from playing golf there. It is a private course. You don't demand to walk onto a farmer's private land do you because you feel you have a right to go there do you? Another point, women are allowed to play there, provided they are accompanied by a member.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • ann2323

      Nope not even close. As CNN pointed out there's a power source of brokering deals that happens at that specific club that doesn't happen in a women's locker room.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Neeneko

      While it is less of an issue today, the historical problem was that such places are where you did the bulk of your networking and business deals, thus people who were shut out of such private clubs also had their career and business options severely limited.

      Today though such clubs have much less power/status so their impact is not as great.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Juanito

    The is liberal media bringing this up. They do it every year. Cancel all womens fitness clubs first then talk about allowing women at Augusta.

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

      Didn't know that gender was a partisan issue.
      Thanks for pointing that out.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Let me show ya somethin

    You know what is really funny about all this, is that they have womens health clubs designed just for women, no men allowed. You don't hear any men griping and complaining about that do ya hmmm? Or asking to be a member?

    April 5, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bam! Here it is!

      You apparently don't live in diverse neighborhoods...I have seen men admitted into women's health clubs.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • ann2323

      Because big business deals are not brokered in these all womens' clubs for the most part. Next...

      April 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • A

      Ann - I fail to see why women should be allowed in every case where "business deals" are conducted. Should every place where mythical "business deals" are conducted be forced to include a woman? If I bartered my orange juice for a sandwich from my buddy, would you require me to have a woman present or otherwise brand me a misogynist? What absurd logic.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. yixe

    Women's money is just as green as men's. Augusta should be happy to have it.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

      @ yixe:
      They don't need the money.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • GTA

      You're kidding, right?
      The members at Augusta National are individuals of significant wealth and are not interested in anyone else's money. Further, the operating expenses of the club are mostly if not fully covered by the proceeds of The Masters Tournament.

      April 6, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Gee Clare

    Augusta can do what it wants as a private club - I have more of an issue with the PGA and any position it has on equality and/or diversity. However, it's interesting to read IBM's position regarding equal opportunity for its employees - easily found on its website - it says its business activities are conducted without discrimination based on many things - including gender. It also references the diversity among its employees and all those with whom they do business.

    IBM needs to ensure that it's sponsorship of the Masters is in line with its own positions on equal opportunity and diversity in its workplace and those of its vendors. It is curious to see what the other sponsors may say. IBM is in the unfortunate position of having a female CEO - but the others could be asked the same question...

    April 5, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kim S

    Why don't all those who are whinning about the membership policy at Augusta, start their own "women only" golf club? A private club still has a few rights left in this country, I think.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chris B

    Another a man, if women are so high up on equality, and that's the pot she wants to stir...change the alimony and child support laws. They are WAY swayed toward women, when in today's day they work and have jobs just like men do. And I say this from a very happy marriage with NO kids.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      Sure I get that.
      Child support laws...not so much.

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


      April 8, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • equal partnership

      chris, in today's day, women do EVERYTHING. We bring home the bacon, fry it in the pan, set and clear the table, take care of the kids and house...and what does the man do? He works 9-5 and then expects to be served. This is why divorce has reached 50%. Women no longer need men and they kick them to the curb because women don't need a big, 30-something year old baby who can't cook or do the laundry but can watch TV or play video games. We have careers too and we expect men to do 50% of the work at home. It's called an equal partnership. Chris, are you cooking tonight?

      April 9, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff

    The most important freedom we have is freedom of association. It is wrong to think that everything must be open to everyone; that doesn't foster unity, is entrenches discord. Mostly because it is used as a wedge to drive us apart, because people who don't get along need more government intervention. The power addicts love to have a bunch of querulous, self-concerned individuals clamoring for their "rights." It makes them easier to control.
    And to prove that this has nothing at all to do with "equality," use the Reverse Question. Would be still be having this discussion if the roles were reversed (men trying to gain entrance into an all-female club)? If we're going to be equal, then it must be 100%. Now, think about how foolish that sounds, and let people decide their own associations.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • ann2323

      If the affect of being left out of these "all womens' clubs" would hurt the male's business opportunities then the answer would be a resounding yes.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bam! Here it is!

      Just because MEN don't ask for equality, the status quo must remain? How silly. MEN don't even like to ask for DIRECTIONS!

      April 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • A

      Ann - once again, totally astounded by your logic. The answer is rarely a "resounding yes" by any group, political or otherwise, when men get the shaft. Men get fewer scholarships than women, are educated less, are more prone to be homeless, violently attacked, incarcerated, get less medical funding, commit suicide more often, and die of virtual every cause more than women. Yet your gender vitriol is focused on ridiculous issues like "women have it hard because they're not included in (fairly mythical) business deals"? That's what you're self-righteous about?

      April 5, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Roger Ogilvy Thornhill

    This club is a place where well-off people can rub elbows and make connections to obtain even greater wealth and status. Maybe they don't all do that consciously, but I'm sure many of them do - it's how the social bleeds into the professional and everyone knows it. Women apparently are excluded from this type of activity because of the men-only rule.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Chad

    Women? I am suprised they let black people play there! That deep South

    April 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Chris B

    sorry...I have just seen too many cases where the man is paying a huge chunk of child support (say $1000 a month) when the wife makes as much if not more than he does. And when you add everything up...the man ends up paying 70% of the bill.

    April 5, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy ©

      Most states take the women's income into consideration as well...
      Not to mention who has physical custody of the children.
      Many women provide 100% of the child's care.

      If somebody you know is getting taken to the cleaners, then he should revisit the situation with the courts.

      Again, it varies state to state, and there are many scenarios.

      April 5, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • equal partnership

      Chris, there's the cost of materials and labor. If the woman is saddled with the kids most of the time after a divorce, she should be payed for her labor in taking care of them. If the man doesn't want to pay for labor, he can take care of the kids himself...but that would cramp his ability to score whenever and wherever, right? Yep, men dump their kids after divorce because they never cared about them in the first place.

      April 9, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JimmyJack

    Is "women patrons" grammatically correct? Would this reporter say "men patrons"? Just asking.

    As for club membership, it's a non-issue. If you don't want to support the Masters because of Augusta National's policy, then don't. What business is it of anyone else's, actually, who a private club allows as members?

    April 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
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