Women in the last year have been breaking plenty of barriers and women being allowed as members of Augusta National at Masters is a huge deal in not just sports but America as a whole. Condoleezza Rice as one of those members has wasted no time making herself one of its most visible members. Journalist Christine Brennan touches on why this barrier break is just the beginning and how it helps the sport.
By Christine Brennan, USA TODAY Sports
Having women members at Augusta National has not ruined the tradition of the Masters
AUGUSTA, GA. — Condoleezza Rice has been everywhere the past three days at Augusta National Golf Club, apparently making up for lost time, not just for herself, but for 51% of the U.S. population.
The former U.S. Secretary of State played a round of golf Sunday with Phil Mickelson, then said a warm hello to Tiger Woods, who used the word “fantastic” twice Tuesday to describe the fact that the club that hosts the Masters finally has two women members. On Monday morning, Rice was spotted in her new green jacket greeting spectators at the club’s exclusive new hospitality center behind the fifth green, according to the Augusta (Ga.)Chronicle. Then, Tuesday afternoon, a security guard near the first tee was marveling about just how visible she was.
“Condi Rice was out here this morning, just walking around,” he excitedly told a few fans who were on the lookout for her during the day’s practice round.
It took Augusta National nearly 80 years to invite its first two female members into the club. It took one of them less than two days to become the most recognizable and popular member of the place.
Now that is serious progress.
Rice is letting her very significant presence at the club that was most associated with gender-based discrimination in American sports do her talking this week because she is not.
“Unfortunately, we are not doing any interviews around the Masters. Sorry,” emailed Georgia Godfrey, Rice’s chief of staff, back in February.
Augusta National said basically the same thing. That’s no surprise. It’s what former Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson told me in 1999 when, on my first trip to cover the Masters,
I asked during his news conference if there were any women members of the club.
“That’s a club matter, ma’am, and all club matters are private.”
That wasn’t the case for long, however. As a private club that is known as the very public face of golf, Augusta National was about to find out that its business would become the nation’s business. In the summer of 2002, Johnson received a private letter from Martha Burk, chairwoman of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, and decided to make it public, using it as an excuse to say he wasn’t going to be pressured “at the point of a bayonet” into admitting women into his club.
After a comment like that, there was no turning back. It was exactly 10 years ago this week that…[Read the Full Article Here]