Eighty years after its establishment and a decade after being publicly besieged by a campaign to allow women membership into the private club, Augusta National has finally opened its doors.
The news was announced this morning that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina businesswoman Darla Moore were admitted to the formerly all-men’s golf club, which is home to the annual Masters Tournament.
“This is a joyous occasion,” Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said Monday.
If it’s so joyous, however, one wonders why they waited so long to celebrate it; maybe for the same reason they waited so long to allow a black member into the club, which was 1990. Another “joyous” occasion for the club, no doubt.
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The decision was made 10 years after Martha Burk of the National Council of Women’s Organizations publicly urged the club to open its doors to the other half of the human race. But then, golf is a game of leisure, played slowly, which might explain why it looks like the members of the club dragged their feet into modernity.
"Oh my God. We won," Burk said Monday. "It's about 10 years too late for the boys to come into the 20th century, never mind the 21st century. But it's a milestone for women in business."
The lifting of the ban on women comes at a time when previously fought battles by women are being re-fought. During this election year, birth control has somehow once again become a hot-button issue. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has vowed to get rid of Planned Parenthood. Required trans-vaginal ultrasounds have made their way onto ballot initiatives. And Rep. Todd Akin (R-Missouri) said this over the weekend: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Well, that’s just science; you know, like the fact that the sun revolves around the earth and that witches float.
For women or anyone else who seeks equality on their behalf, the new policy at the roughly-300 member club means there is one less battle to fight.
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An ESPN analyst pointed out that the policy is about 30 years overdue. Some people might even argue that it’s about 80 years overdue, but let’s not quibble over a half a century. What’s important is that Augusta National made the decision on their own, and without being forced to do it by the compulsion of law. It’s like farting on an elevator – you don’t want to make a federal crime of it, you just hope people will do the right thing.
At last, the guys in the green jackets have done the right thing. Eighty years later, the boys at Augusta are now the men…and women at Augusta.