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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Filed under: Golf • Sports
soundoff (396 Responses)
  1. George

    But women only clubs are ok? Reverse discrimination in the work place and society is fine? Hitting men is ok also?

    April 5, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Be the first and forge the path.
      Start a demostration, or better yet, sue a sorority or Curves.
      Please. I beg of you.

      April 5, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Really CNN?

    Playing golf behind a woman is the closest thing to hell on earth.

    April 5, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      There are plenty of women who could kick your ass on the golf course from the same tees that you play, so get real.

      I support Augusta staying men's only, but I don't support people who take that position and then give reasons such as the one you just threw out there, even if it was meant to be a joke.

      April 5, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Liz

    As a woman, I find nothing offensive in Augusta National's male-only policy. I am twenty years old and have been fortunate to have grown up in a society where women are generally given the same privileges as men; for that I am incredibly grateful. However, I believe it is perfectly natural for there to be some exclusivity among clubs and memberships with regard to gender, without stirring up controversy over discrimination. After all, many organizations and clubs have "women-only" memberships. How can one presume to demand that women have this privilege without also giving men the same freedom?

    April 5, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • THYMAT

      @Liz...................Great insight Liz.............I hope someday you'll run for President..........

      April 5, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • kendiz

      "generally given" just not stuff like equal wages? "Grateful"..because men run the show? I'm not sure why you feel less deserving than a man.

      April 5, 2012 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      Right on! ...and well put.

      April 5, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      @Liz: Thanks for being rational.

      @Kendiz: What in the world does this golf club have to do with wage equality or men "running the show"? Go argue those issues on the front steps of Capitol Hill, not on Magnolia Lane. Liz will probably make better wages than you in a few years, and for good reasons (like using her brain to for logical thought processes and decision-making, rather than getting worked up and coming to a decision based on emotion). Both men and woman are capable of this, but apparently you are not.

      April 5, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Alex

    I'm a woman and I'm okay with it. Let the guys follow tradition!

    April 5, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jerome Horowitz

    But if they let in women the guys will have to get cootie shots – and I don't think that's covered by ObamaCare!

    April 5, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Theend

    Change from within, huh? Granting membership to a token woman is not going to solve the gender discrimination issue at Augusta National Golf Club. However, IBM withdrawing their sponsorship of the Masters Tournament would be a step in the right the right direction. Golf is one of those sports that both men and women can play, and play very well. Yani Tseng, Lorena Ochoa, and Annika Sorenstam, etc.could outplay most of the male members at Augusta National Golf Club - easily...

    April 5, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mark

    Kinda makes you wonder what all them preppy golf bois are doing in there gigity gigity. Maybe it that the ladies don't mind because their disposition is better when they emerge.

    April 5, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dr.mell

    They do love their traditions.

    Cross burnings. Hangings. Lynchings. You know. Stuff like that.

    April 5, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. *Kim

    Really? Of course its not ok. This isn't rocket science. The fact that women are not allowed to join is just plain stupid.

    April 5, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. henk van schaik

    When can I as a man join the popular Women's Gym Curves?

    April 5, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JerseyJeff

    Out of curiousity, how is a golf club allowed to exclude women based on gender?
    What stops them from banning blacks or jews? How is one moral and traditional and the other unacceptable?

    April 5, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. KHK

    You have to draw line some where. Do you think equality means using the public rest roms together as well?

    April 5, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. aertzc

    CNN, believe it or not, very few people other than you are concerned about this. Stop trying to stir up controversy.

    April 5, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Loyal Northern Democrat

    Women should be alowed to join if they can balance a beer can on the back of their head.

    April 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Helen

    I wouldn't want to be part of a club with that antiquated way of thinking so let them scratch, fart and burp... we're not missing out.

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

      And you won't...

      April 6, 2012 at 1:52 am | Report abuse |
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