its first female members.
Both women accepted, and the decade-long debate over the club's exclusion of women from its membership rolls will end – for this institution, anyway. (Next year's British Open is set to be held at the Muirfield Golf Club, which as of this writing remains XY-only.
In 2002, Martha Burk called for Augusta to get with the now and admit women as members. Then chairman Hootie Johnson dug in his heels, however – even risking the loss of Masters TV sponsors – with his notorious comment that, while Augusta National might have female members one day, it wouldn't be "at the point of a bayonet."
It's still kind of unclear what that even means, or why we took the comments of a grownup still going by the name "Hootie" seriously ten years ago, but the remark sparked a controversy, symbolizing either the club's brave refusal to change in the face of public pressure, or its obdurate sexism, depending on whom you asked.
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But if you asked Burk on Monday what SHE thought of the move, well, she liked it: "Oh my God. We won." She added that the move came "about 10 years too late for the boys to come into the 20th century, never mind the 21st century," but called it "a milestone for women in business" nonetheless.
Chairman Payne, whose held that role since 2006, claimed that the membership considerations for Rice and Moore didn't differ from those for any other new members – he only announced it publicly because it's historically significant. He probably also wanted credit for FINALLY banishing the cloud of dated sexism that had been hanging over the historic club.
It took five years for Rice and Moore to gain their green jackets – an AP story notes that they were first considered for membership five years ago, and four years after Burk held a small protest down the street from the club. AP also says that Payne and his predecessor agreed on the timing of the change; an anonymous source said that Payne wanted to respect the membership process.
Said membership process has taken fire in the past for its seemingly antediluvian omission of certain groups. Augusta National did not admit an African-American member until 1990.
Rice's recent appointment to the U.S. Golf Association's nominating committee may have hastened the process, or perhaps it was Moore's close work with Johnson on a capital campaign in South Carolina – but whatever the reason, it's about durn time.
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