The institution of "Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden" aka GOLF is changing. The Augusta National Golf Course has always been known for two things, The Masters Golf Tournament and the club’s long standing tradition of welcoming only men as club members. But that’s about to change, this notorious boys club has extended an invitation to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore to become the first female members.
The chairman of Augusta, Billy Payne, described this historic event as a "joyous occasion." Both Rice and Moore are avid golfers who will bring more to the club than a good game. Rice sits on a U.S. Golf Association committee that nominates members to the executive board. The publicity is also bound to be a feather in Augusta’s golf cap. Far from the negative publicity the course received several years ago when a women’s advocacy group lead by Martha Burk, challenged the club’s policies on not allowing women members. Upon hearing the news Burk stated "We won."
Change of Heart
Hootie Johnson, former Augusta chairman who battled Burk on the issue of admitting women gave the following statement; "This is wonderful news for Augusta National Golf Club and I could not be more pleased. Darla Moore is my good friend, and I know she and Condoleezza Rice will enjoy the Club as much as I have."
Current chairman Billy Payne said; "These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership," Payne said in a statement. "It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their green jackets when the club opens this fall. This is a significant and positive time in our club's history and, on behalf of our membership, I wanted to take this opportunity to welcome them and all of our new members into the Augusta National family."
Professional Golfers Applaud Decision
Six-time Masters champion, Augusta member and world famous golfer Jack Nicklaus said; "Everyone at Augusta National shares a similar passion for the game of golf, and I know they will be great additions to the club."
Tiger Woods also agreed with the decision, saying; "I think the decision by the Augusta National membership is important to golf. The Club continues to demonstrate its commitment to impacting the game in positive ways. I would like to congratulate both new members, especially my friend Condi Rice."
South African golfer and three-time Masters champion Gary Player tweeted; "Great news. Augusta National admits its first female members in 80 years: Condoleezza Rice & Darla Moore."
Augusta National opened its doors in 1932 and prior to allowing women to join, they were only allowed to play as guests. Perhaps golf fans will one day see a female golfer win the coveted "Green Jacket."
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The Augusta National Golf Club
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