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. Kirk

    I'm a man and would like to join the LPGA and play in their tournaments. Why won't they let me? That's discrimination.

    April 5, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike D

      I want to open a restaurant that refuses to serve Christians.

      April 5, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason K

      Yeah, my friend's son wanted to join the girl scouts and they wouldn't let him...foul play. Leave it as it is. Its a private organization, they don't have to let anyone play if they don't want to.

      April 5, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • bg1789

      MikeD – This is where you show your ignernce. Your restaurant is not the same because you would be targeting one group to discriminate against. If you wanted to have a restaurant that was only for Muslims or only for Atheists you could probably do that and not get noticed. But if you allow everyone except for one group, governments won't be so kind because you're targeting someone. In the case of Augusta, there are only two groups: men and women. So a 'men only' policy sounds like it's targeting women to the highly sensitive, but it's just another case of creating a club for a specific group.

      April 5, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Babyboomer

      Dude. Read the article. Most women do NOT have a problem with the policy! The "hub bub" is one that the media created...just pot stirring.

      April 5, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clu

      They don't want to play in the tourney you idiot. They just believe that clubs should be unble to discriminate based on gender.

      Gender, via religious patriarchy, is the current battleground for civil rights. Boys Scouts, girl scouts, etc etc. Just because things have been done a certain way for 100 years, does not make that way more ethically or morally just.

      This debate asks people to give some defense for gender discrimination, such as the club practices in this case. By saying "all the other kids are doing it" you are merely admitting that you don't have a factual or rational case for your position.

      No one is that upset by's simply respresentative of larger issues that are coming to the forefront of our social discourse involving gender, discrimination, religious patriarchy, and civil rights.

      April 5, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. John

    Does the woman in question want to join for a reason or to make a point? Many of the women organizations are some of the biggest hypocrites around they defend women as long as the women see things from the organizations point of view.

    April 5, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • biggal195

      John, the way I heard it in another report, she has to go to the event because she is the CEO of a corporation (IBM) that is sponsoring it. They confer membership on the CEOs of their sponsors, whether requested or not. They will do this publicly, at the event, and hand their sponsors "green jackets," EXCEPT FOR HER. To me, that seems like a slap in the face, not only to her but to her company as well. If they don't want to give her membership, then they should do something else to honor their sponsors. Actually, they should have seen this coming a long time ago and prepared for it. The first woman CEO didn't exactly get her position yesterday, you know.

      April 5, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ann2323

    A- I'm actually not for gender affirmative action whatsoever, I believe each person should be awarded scholarships based on their merits so you are simply attempting to pigeon-hole me as a "feminist" when in reality I'm all for equality. Suicide is a higher rate in men- now how is that anyone else's fault other than the person who committed it?? And as someone who IS actually involved in negotiations and business deals, I can assure you if the affect is limiting women's access to such deals then yes it is discrimination. I'm not sure what those other statistics have to do with this topic at hand?

    April 5, 2012 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • clemalum07

      lol you are a joke.

      April 5, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. August[a] One

    Well, if it's ok with ya'll that we had our groundskeeper kick Tiger Woods off the practice tee 'cuz he was black, what's the big deal about women? (Tiger Woods was in fact kicked off of the property at Augusta National because he was time. He was a youngster then, and it was on a driving range, not the course. The groundskeeper didn't believe he was Tiger, who was wearing traditional gangsta garb/knit bonnet popular among the childen's back then. Reported in SI mag, along with the mob killing M. Jordans dad for gambling debts MJ owed)

    April 5, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Nayrb

    If Augusta is a private club, then they can determine who is allowed to join. It's the club's prerogative. Just as IBM can decide if they want to continue sponsoring The Masters... Why is anyone trying to FORCE a private group to change?

    April 5, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • ALL MALE!!

      I want to belong to a Men's Only Club!! That sounds HOT!!! If this walls could talk....more like, if those holes could talk!

      April 5, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ann2323

    A- by the way A I never said "women have it hard". What I'm saying is in the name of fairness and equality then let the women into Augusta (of course this means each candidate is still considered by Augusta on an individual basis).

    April 5, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kirk

      Just as soon as they let men into the LPGA, Wellesley College, etc.

      April 5, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • clemalum07

      Hey look at the Lib CNN trying to make a story out of something that is not one. It is a PRIVATE club. They can do whatever the hell they want.

      April 5, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |

    Does anyone else see a problem with letting an all male board decide on the admittance of women? Why do I suddenly feel like I'm back in the 1950's. Remember that time African Americans weren't allowed to be members of Augusta?

    April 5, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      All male boards are the issue. Washington & Lee University (in very conservative Lexington, VA) was an all male school in which the all male board voted to allow women and become co-ed because the all male alumni wanted their daughters to have to option of going to W&L.

      April 5, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. DC

    If they let anyone and everyone into their club, it wouldn't be a 'club' anymore, now would it?

    April 5, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |

      Remember that time African Americans weren't allowed to be members of Augusta? I guess they realized that pretending to be exclusive doesn't give you the right to be racist. Giving women admittance is the next step which will inevitably happen in a matter of years.

      April 5, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Portland tony

    PGA, LPGA, BOYS CLUB, GIRLS CLUB, GIRL SCOUTS, BOYS SCOUTS, WOMEN'S CHUCH AUXILIARY, SORORITIES, FRATERNITIES, PRIESTHOOD, NUNS....SHRINERS, FREEMASONS & "Order of the eastern star", etcetera etcetera....Oh...and the AUGUSTA NATIONAL GOLF CLUB all excuse men or women to some degree. So what's the big deal? Just another political can to kick!

    April 5, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. DC

    "Our membership is single gender just as many other organizations and clubs all across America. These would include Junior Leagues, sororities, fraternities, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and countless others. And we all have a moral and legal right to organize our clubs the way we wish."

    -Former Augusta Chairman, Hootie Johnson

    April 5, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Es Verdad

      Touche, case closed.

      April 5, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. HeWhoKnows

    I've never understood why anyone wants to be where they obviously are not wanted. Just because women may at some point be allowed membership at Augusta does not mean they will be welcome. It will be a miserable experience. Why don't they start their own club just for women?

    April 5, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. biggal195

    If they were a COMPLETELY private club with no one from the outside "sponsoring" them, they I would agree with all these other folks who are saying, "It's their business and nobody else's." But this is a very public event with outside sponsors. If they maintain the tradition as it has been, then they will be slapping one of those sponsors in the face along with, by extension, the company she represents. If they don't want to make that company's CEO a member, then they should look for some other way to recognize their "sponsors" so that all are treated equally.

    April 5, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      It is a COMPLETELY private club. IBM doesn't sponsor the Augusta National Golf Club, they sponsor the Master's tournament which takes place @ said club. There's a big difference there.

      Maybe everyone out there who thinks this is an issue should learn from the CEO of IBM (who is a VERY successful, and presumably dirven and intelligent WOMAN) and realize that this is not an issue because a PRIVATE club can do whatever they want in terms of membership.

      April 5, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bg1789

    Headline: "Most Augusta patrons seem untroubled by male-only membership policy"

    Most people in America are untroubled. It's a private club and women can have private clubs too. No big deal. It's only a big deal to a few people who long to be a part of a cause and fight injustice, so they pretend like they are fighting injustice with issues like this and Occupy. Meanwhile there is real injustice in the world and they could be making a difference in people's lives, but instead they're here, distracted and trumping up non-issues.

    April 5, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dann

    Not sure why you would want to be a member of a private club that doesn't want you as a member.

    April 5, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Michael

    Obama has MANY more important things than to weigh in on this, but it's among the oldest tricks in the book. Find something relatively inconsequential but one in which you can be the "good guy" then make it a big deal. Helps most people forget about the fact that you're really NOT that good a leader after all. Nice job there Barack!

    Once again, we get drawn into an incredibly inconsequential issue when there are much larger problems needing to be addressed. What's next? Kardassian's?

    By the way, I think Augusta should be able to make their own decisions about membership. I'd say tell IBM to take their money...having a corporate sponsor that then basically blackmails you is HARDLY in your best interest. IBM, I love you but in this particular case I'd tell you to shove it.

    April 5, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • nck

      You should work on your reading comprehension. Now read the article again slowly and ask yourself if the IBM chairman really wants to blackmail them into changing their policies.

      If you aren't getting small details (like the gist of the story) then have you ever considered you might be wrong about other things too?

      April 5, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Leaf on the Wind

      Michael, did we read different articles? I see nothing above about the president making any comment on this, and I also see nothing about IBM complaining or boycotting or anything of the sort.

      I agree that privately owned and run clubs have the right to specify who can and cannot be a member, and if Augusta wants to remain in the dark ages, that's their business.

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

      Yeah Michael, you clearly need to learn how to read. While I agree with you that Obama should not even be commenting on this, you completely missed the whole IBM side of the story.

      April 5, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
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