Augusta National is the most sought after holy grail of a golf membership that any golfer, and many non golfers would love to enjoy. The Masters is such a special place, and you don’t have to be a golfer to realize that Augusta is a one of those rare and beautiful places of the world. But many people found that their lack of diversity when it came to its membership was shall we say less than desirable. I am going to decline to either agree or disagree with membership policies of any private course especially the most exclusive course in American and probably the world.
So why change now almost 10 years after the first protests started about allowing full women members. Augusta didn’t ban women from the course as other courses have done (a few of which reside right here in Chicago). Up until yesterday women were allowed to play as guests of members even on the Sunday prior to the Masters, but now there are two full time women members at Augusta National. The chairman of Augusta National has one heck of a poker face, because no one got a sniff of this breaking news story. Here I am watching the Golf Channel on Monday morning catching the end of the Wyndham Championship because of the rain on Sunday and all of the sudden a breaking news pops up. I am thinking maybe Tiger Woods crashed another car, Rory McIlory decided to elope in Veags with Wosniak, or possibly there was the first Ryder Cup captains pick was made…not sure what I should think. A story about a Augusta National membership polices was probably something that I would have never guessed.
I have no opinion one way or another about how a private club announces or decides its membership. I did not attend an Ivy League school and therefore was not admitted to a secret society. No big deal. I was not in a fraternity or really a member of any exclusive club (still waiting for a possible golf membership at one of Chicago’s elite clubs, but that is more of a dream than anything right now). So as someone who has not been a part of that inner society and I neither upset or bitter about not being one of the captain of industry parties. I do however commend Augusta National for standing its grounds. They are a private club, and they were not going to be bullied into picking a member or changing its membership policies. Augusta National is part of Golf History, and some would say its exclusivity is a major detraction from golf. If you were a fan of the mens only rule then you defended Augusta until your last breath that it is their choice who they choose to hang out with no questions asked. If you were on the more liberal side you would say that it is golf’s elitist attitude which has kept it in the rich white neighborhoods of the world and were not only prejudiced based on color but by sex as well.
Conservative or Liberal. Right or Left Wing. No matter which way you looking at this story Augusta National was going to choose its members on its own time, based on its own merits, and they are not going to let the public in on their little selection process. I for one believe that any private club should be allowed to choose its members, and no one should be forced into a situation. If you are not a fan of a place because of their selection process you shouldn’t fight them to change. You should find a club that is more similar to what you want. Forcing a club to change to your beliefs would be like going into a Italian restaurant and saying I no longer want you to serve only pasta, start selling egg rolls or else. Sounds crazy right. But if the people who go to that restaurant love the food, who are we to say that now you now must start selling something else. It would be like Wisconsin coming into Chicago and saying from now on you must put ketchup on your hot dog. Never will I be forced to put Ketchup on my hot dog, give me a Chicago Style hot dog or give me death.
I love that Augusta stood its ground and then made their own changes on their own time, and would not be forced to change at the end of a bayonet.
I do not think that this change in policy will effect the Masters Tournament one way or another. Their television ratings will not go up because they have a more diverse group of members, and their ratings will not go down because they now have more “minorities”. That is the way a club should be, the selection process should not be the end all be all of the clubs reputation. The golf course itself should be the stand alone measure of how great a course is, not who is a member and how is not.