Masters Tournament and Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Billy Payne declined to answer questions about female members joining the all-male club at his annual news conference Wednesday.
“That’s a membership issue,” he said to one of the questions. “We don’t talk about private deliberations.”
Reports surfaced last week about IBM CEO Virginia Rometty possibly joining the club. Payne said it’s club policy not to discuss specifically named candidates for membership.
Payne discussed Augusta National’s efforts in growing the game through the Masters Junior Pass Program and the allowance of the Masters video game, which is now in its second year. Payne said the club is doing everything it can to reverse a slide in golf participation.
“Golf is too precious to sit on the sidelines,” he said, “and watch decreasing participation.”
With an overnight storm dropping 1.4 inches of rain, Payne talked about this week’s tournament and the possible challenge bad weather will present Thursday. He said Masters officials are unsure whether they will enact a lift, clean and place policy.
“We surely will not want to have to do that,” he said. “That’s a decision we will have to make.”