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. octopus

    Yeah right. And what if woman has her period? She's not clean enough to participate in the noble game! Nobody addresses the elephant in the room.

    April 5, 2012 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ned Racine

      The elephant in the room is smarter than you.

      April 5, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Eljaybee

    Anybody ever heard of tradition? Augusta is a private club. Private means 'not public' and not required to adhere to public 'rule'. If the paying members do not want to break with a decades old tradition, then leave them alone. Augusta is Augusta and should stay Augusta. I'm sick to death of PC this or that. Bleeding hearts who believe everyone 'has a right' to anything they want make me want to puke.

    April 5, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • geeky

      It's a private club that hosts an international sporting event every year. If they want to exclude the CEO of IBM from their club, they will feel the wrath of the tournament sponsors very soon. I say let them stay men-only, but all the sponsors should take their money elsewhere, and take the Masters with them.

      April 5, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Robert Yarush

    Can men have nothing of their own?? Geeeezzzz.

    April 5, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • C Franco

      Men have football. Women don't play football, but they do play golf. Deal with it and quit your moaning.

      April 6, 2012 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
  4. Fred

    As a groundhog, I hope they'll let on the green someday.

    April 5, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. megard

    the white house has nothing to do with a stupid golf club...its the absolute most boring hobby there is anyway. by the way white house occupants have never looked better.....EVER!!!

    April 5, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ron

    But it is OK to have a woman only group. There are many, MANY out there. Yet if one wants to stay all male, it is an outrage?

    April 5, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Doosh-LaRooush

    What "many women" is that? Mrs. Santorum and Osama bin Laden's wives? That's "many".

    April 5, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ashley

    women have private clubs, why cant the men??? dosent the president have more important things to worry about??? like our economy and the war???

    April 5, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jim

    The one place a guy can get away from his wife.

    April 5, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maria Santa

      You could always go to the "Mens" room.

      April 5, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Maria Santa

    As I hear it......the larger the ego, or income, the smaller the balls they play with. Take that as you will. "Private" seems to mean allowed to descriminate. As a woman engineer I've played this "game" for more than 30 years. Boys will push limits and try to get away with what they can, if you allow them. It is long time to educate and insist that people judge for what one brings or knows, or has the skill to do. I personally have no interest in's a stupid f'ing game (as Furrio from the Sopranos says). Many have better things to do with their time. That being said, if women choose to play golf, they should be allowed to join. Is their money not as green? If we still allowed all the loudest screamers to make all the choices........we would still have slavery. I say boycott the club.....boycott the sponsors......... boycott golf......AND boycott IBM.

    April 5, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • cavepainter

      I disagree with your interpretation of the word "private." For example, my home is a private residence. The only people allowed to enter are those that I choose to allow. IF (and I'm saying -if- here) I were to choose to disallow someone to enter, for whatever reason, that's my own business. You can disagree with my choice and reason, but in the end my "private" home is my own and that choice is mine to make. A private club is just the same.

      "If we still allowed all the loudest screamers to make all the choices..." Actually right now the loudest, and pretty much only, screamers are the ones supporting your position that women should be allowed to join.

      I do agree that golf is stupid, though.

      April 6, 2012 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Buzzer

      "Boys will push the limit it you allow them". MEN will "do" whatever the hell they want...stop acting like their momma. You think these MEN give a crap about you "opinion" on how you view their sport? Boycott? For what? To get women's foot in the door? About the dumbest "tactic" to get a private club full of men with a 100+ year history to "work" with you...

      April 6, 2012 at 1:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Buzzer

      You're first statement is to be taken by ROFLMAO...ever heard of the game of basketball?...about the biggest group of pre-madonnas in sports playing with the largest "ball" in sports...try another statement that you think is "clever" that isn't actually moronic...

      April 6, 2012 at 2:05 am | Report abuse |
  11. Debbie

    @James an Bubba .What does race have to do with it? Everyone bleeds the same color! You apparently have never been to Augusta, before you make assumptions you better have been there but apparently you haven't or you wouldn't have made that remark. I believe as a woman that Augusta should stay male only it is their right not yours! Don't judge a book by its cover in the end we are all humans!

    April 5, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Maria Santa

    We all do bleed, laugh and cry the same. I believe they were citing the fact that women are not the only group that has long been excluded.

    April 5, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • wallstreetwednesdays

      Maria – why would you want to me a member of a Club that doesn't want you? Do you really think your time there would be enjoyable? Don't you think you might get messages sometimes that the tournament starts at 3pm "by mistake", when it really started at 1pm and then you arrive late? Might the banquet be on April 21st while you get "accidentally" informed it is on the 28th? There are plenty of golf courses out there where you can go and play golf. This one is a CLUB. In other words, it has members. You can apply to join it, and be approved or disapproved. This PC approach is now starting to infringe on the peoples' right to peaceably assemble. Why don't all the "offended" persons just start their own club? Or could it be that they really have no desire to be in a golf club, but merely to complain that they can't be in this one?

      April 6, 2012 at 12:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Buzzer

      And as said before, you as a women crapping on the sport of golf are not helping the women that in fact love the game and want to be included...there are alot of women golfers out there that would tell you to STFU...

      April 6, 2012 at 1:50 am | Report abuse |
  13. Kyle

    WOW who cares. It's a private club that can legally make its own rules. If they don't want women to play then they don't have to let them. If it means that much to women then why don't they just get their own golf club. OH WAIT HERE'S ONE QUICK MEN LETS UNITE AND COMPLAIN

    April 5, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Maria Santa

    Please do. If you've ever been excluded by ignorance and bigotry from doing something you'd understand.

    April 5, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kyle

      The whole point is they are complaining women can't come to the men's only club, when there are plenty of women's only clubs out their that don't include men. It should work both ways or not at all. I don't see anyone getting in a hooplah over women only clubs

      April 6, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
  15. Mpa

    Who else plays golf other than fat Old white men

    April 6, 2012 at 12:22 am | Report abuse |
    • eville11

      Tiger Woods would be offended by that remark.

      April 6, 2012 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
    • The way it is

      Rich, athletic men... something you're not.

      April 6, 2012 at 4:29 am | Report abuse |
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