Augusta National admits 2 female members

FILE/STAFF
Condoleezza Rice watches golf during the 2009 Masters Tournament. The former U.S. Secretary of State accepted an invitation to join Augusta National Golf Club on Monday.
Monday, Aug 20, 2012 11:10 AM
Last updated Tuesday, Aug 21, 2012 1:19 AM
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Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore will slip on green jackets when Augusta National Golf Club welcomes its newest members in October.

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At left, Darla Moore speaks to students at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. At right, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice smiles during a meeting with trade union leaders in Medellin, Colombia. For the first time in its 80-year history, Augusta National Golf Club has female members. The home of the Masters, under increasing criticism the last decade because of its all-male membership, invited former Secretary of State Rice and South Carolina financier Moore to become the first women in green jackets when the club opens for a new season in October.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
At left, Darla Moore speaks to students at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. At right, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice smiles during a meeting with trade union leaders in Medellin, Colombia. For the first time in its 80-year history, Augusta National Golf Club has female members. The home of the Masters, under increasing criticism the last decade because of its all-male membership, invited former Secretary of State Rice and South Carolina financier Moore to become the first women in green jackets when the club opens for a new season in October.

The private club that puts on the Masters Tournament announced Monday that Rice and Moore will become the first female members in the club’s 80-year history.

“This is a joyous occasion as we enthusiastically welcome Secretary Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as members of Augusta National Golf Club,” Augusta National and Masters Tournament Chairman Billy Payne said in a prepared statement.

The selection of Rice and Moore might have been a surprise to some, but the two power brokers have long been mentioned as prospective members as the debate over Augusta National’s membership escalated in the past decade.

Both women are accustomed to breaking new ground.

Rice grew up in Birmingham, Ala., during the civil rights era and went on to become the national security adviser and secretary of state under President George W. Bush.

Moore was raised in rural South Carolina and rose to become the highest-paid woman in banking – one not afraid to play hardball with her male colleagues.

Augusta National is usually silent on all matters involving membership, but Monday’s announcement was a historic day for the club and for Payne.

Augusta National was founded by amateur golf star Bobby Jones and investment banker Clifford Roberts in 1932, and the first Masters was held in 1934. The club has always maintained its right to privacy on membership issues – it also went public when its first black member, Ron Townsend, was admitted in 1990 – but the issue boiled over a decade ago when a women’s advocacy group challenged the club.

Payne’s predecessor, Hootie Johnson, famously fought back.

“There may well come a day when women will be invited to join our membership, but that timetable will be ours and not at the point of a bayonet,” Johnson said in 2002.

On Monday, in a statement to his hometown Columbia newspaper, The State, Johnson applauded the news.

“This is wonderful news for Augusta National Golf Club, and I could not be more pleased,” Johnson said. “Darla Moore is my good friend, and I know she and Condoleezza Rice will enjoy the club as much as I have.”

Martha Burk, the activist who fought the club on the issue, said “it came sooner than I expected.”

“I thought they were going to try to outlast me,” Burk told The Associated Press. “And I really thought they would wait until the women’s movement would get no credit. But if we had not done what we did, this would not have happened now.”

Payne took over as chairman in 2006 and has instituted a number of initiatives to help expand golf and bring more people into the game. He was questioned in April about why the chief executive officer of IBM, Ginni Rommety, was not a member.

Previous chairmen of IBM, a tournament sponsor, had been invited to join Augusta National.

Rommety has not been invited to join the club, which has roughly 300 members. A club spokesman said that women have always been welcome as guests and are able to play the course and that any changes to the club’s facilities to accommodate the two new members will be seamless.

“These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf, and both are well-known and respected by our membership,” Payne said. “It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their green jackets when the club opens this fall.”

Rice, who lives in Stanford, Calif., said she was excited for the opportunity.

“I have long admired the important role Augusta National has played in the traditions and history of golf,” Rice said in a statement. “I also have an immense respect for the Masters Tournament and its commitment to grow the game of golf, particularly with youth, here in the United States and throughout the world. Golf is a wonderful source of enjoyment for me, and I feel very fortunate to have this opportunity to grow my love for this great game.”

Moore, 58, is a businesswoman from Lake City, S.C. She is the vice president of Rainwater Inc., and the University of South Carolina’s business school is named in her honor.

“I am fortunate to have many friends who are members at Augusta National, so to be asked to join them as a member represents a very happy and important occasion in my life,” Moore said in a statement. “Above all, Augusta National and the Masters Tournament have always stood for excellence, and that is what is so important to me. I am extremely grateful for this privilege.”

The selection of Rice and Moore was received with welcome arms from former Masters champions.

“I warmly welcome both Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as members of Augusta National,” said six-time Masters champion Jack Nicklaus, who is also a member. “I am delighted they have accepted the invitation to be members. 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, the first minority golfer to win the Masters, knows Rice through their Stanford connections.

“I think the decision by the Augusta National membership is important to golf,” Woods said in a statement. “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.”

Three-time winner Gary Player echoed those sentiments.

“Change is the price of survival, as I have always said, and Chairman Billy Payne has made the right decision and we all agree with what he said is (a) joyous occasion,” Player said.

TIMELINE

DECEMBER 1932: Augusta National Golf Club opens.

SEPTEMBER 1990: TV executive Ron Townsend is invited to join Augusta National and becomes club’s first black member.

JUNE 2002: Chairman Hootie Johnson receives a letter from Martha Burk, the chairwoman of National Council of Women’s Organizations, about club’s lack of female members and issues a terse, three-paragraph reply.

AUG. 30, 2002: As the controversy escalates, Johnson releases sponsors Coca-Cola, IBM and Citigroup from their obligation.

APRIL 2003: Planned protest by Martha Burk and National Council of Women’s Organizations fizzles.

AUG. 27, 2004: Club announces that sponsors will return for 2005 Masters.

AUG. 20, 2012: Club announces that Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore are first two female members.

– From staff reports

Comments (53) Add comment
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rmwhitley
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rmwhitley 08/20/12 - 11:16 am
0
0
Hopefully
Unpublished

Ms. Rice will be in the next administration.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 08/20/12 - 11:20 am
3
3
Hahah

Someone owes me some money...:):)

Loving THIS!

Augustan
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Augustan 08/20/12 - 11:22 am
6
2
Great news

Condi got passed over by Romney but this is a much better invite. Love Payne and co doing this on their own terms

Edward1968
578
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Edward1968 08/20/12 - 11:22 am
4
1
Wow!

Did Azziz have a hand in this?

Farmboy
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Farmboy 08/20/12 - 12:02 pm
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4
?

I wonder what brought this on...

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 08/20/12 - 11:34 am
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1
If the Augusta National can

If the Augusta National can reconsider its longstanding policy banning women, then the Board of Regents can reconsider its month-old decision on renaming MCG and ASU.

csrareader
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csrareader 08/20/12 - 11:42 am
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According to Ricky Azziz, our

According to Ricky Azziz, our local genius, any organization that uses "Augusta" as part of their name won't become anything special. Maybe Augusta National needs to change their name to "Georgia Regents Golf Club," if they really want to grow into an organization that is known outside the city limits of Augusta.

justputtin
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justputtin 08/20/12 - 11:45 am
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1
Where's Maatha Burke?

This would have happened a long time ago if she had stayed home. Brings back memories of "iron my shirt" poster by some knucklehead and interview by Mr. Jablome, the French visitor!

KSL
129553
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KSL 08/20/12 - 11:48 am
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3
Good one, reader.

Good one, reader.

seenitB4
87275
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seenitB4 08/20/12 - 11:52 am
3
2
Augusta needed this

We needed a pick me up...thanks Augusta National....you just made me sooo proud of the Augusta name....always have been proud but this this just adds to the list...

KSL
129553
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KSL 08/20/12 - 12:02 pm
4
3
Isn't the timing of this

Isn't the timing of this significant change of policy interesting?

YeCats
10776
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YeCats 08/20/12 - 12:03 pm
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Ya think this will satisfy

Ya think this will satisfy Ms. Burke?

Congratulations ANGC and ladies!

kiwiinamerica
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kiwiinamerica 08/20/12 - 12:04 pm
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They caved.
Unpublished

Pure and simple.

There are no more "men's only" organizations. There will always be "women's only" organizations, of course, just as there will always be "blacks only" organizations, such as the Black Congressional Caucus.

Whites only organizations will continue to be anathema.

HenryWalker3rd
2393
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HenryWalker3rd 08/20/12 - 12:06 pm
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Wow! Congratulations ladies!
Unpublished

Wow! Congratulations ladies!

Riverman1
83990
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Riverman1 08/20/12 - 12:13 pm
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3
It was a matter of time.

It was a matter of time. Condy Rice...wow. I hope she comes often.

Azziz probably thought he could go out any Sunday to the National and play a little golf. He can walk up to the gate on Washington Rd and look through the bamboo is as close as he'll get.

Frank I
1191
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Frank I 08/20/12 - 12:23 pm
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damn it's cold out..

damn it's cold out..

dwb619
93665
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dwb619 08/20/12 - 12:26 pm
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Darla Moore

I bet Ms. Moore's membership has really steamed Gov. Haley.

rkbelch
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rkbelch 08/20/12 - 12:38 pm
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Are you happy now? Now get in

Are you happy now? Now get in there and make me a sandwich. (Joke)

Dixieman
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Dixieman 08/20/12 - 12:42 pm
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1
Okay

Now everyone shut up about this. Story will have legs for 24 hours, then go in the circular file where it has always belonged.

galaxygrl
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galaxygrl 08/20/12 - 12:45 pm
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Congratulations

I defend the right of the Augusta National to remain an all male membership but am excited to see two wonderful women have joined.

Augusta resident
1368
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Augusta resident 08/20/12 - 12:46 pm
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Private Club

The Augusta nationals is a private club. Can ya'll comment without bringing up Azziz ,come on people!!!!!

justthefacts
21875
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justthefacts 08/20/12 - 12:52 pm
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Ut oh

Next thing you know, there will a "ladies day" and only they will have access to the course that day. ANGC better be careful......

Chief_Broom
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Chief_Broom 08/20/12 - 01:15 pm
1
9
Good! I hope Oprah is next.

Good! I hope Oprah is next.

KNECKBONE
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KNECKBONE 08/20/12 - 01:22 pm
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WOMEN PLAYERS NEXT

INVITE SOME WOMEN PLAYERS NOW.

csrareader
1287
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csrareader 08/20/12 - 01:50 pm
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Augusta Resident, why would

Augusta Resident, why would Augusta National being a private club preclude people from commenting about Azziz. He has a philosophy that anyname that includes "Augusta" makes it difficult for an organization to gain a National reputation. Do I need to say more?

afadel
494
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afadel 08/20/12 - 02:48 pm
3
14
Good for Women, Bad for the Geneva Convention

I would say that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also broke the war criminal barrier at the Augusta National, but I'm sure many have preceded her.

Riverman1
83990
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Riverman1 08/20/12 - 03:14 pm
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1
Afadel said, "I would say

Afadel said, "I would say that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also broke the war criminal barrier at the Augusta National, but I'm sure many have preceded her."

Care to offer any proof of this derogatory statment and charge that the newest member of the National is a criminal? Lay your "proof" out so I can show you what a misinformed idea it is. I now happily view Ms. Rice as a part-time Augustan.

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 08/20/12 - 03:17 pm
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You've come a long way baby!

You've come a long way baby!

rugerguy
216
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rugerguy 08/20/12 - 03:24 pm
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2
Dr. Rice was a great choice.

Dr. Rice was a great choice. I had no idea she was a golfer but if she is to be one of the first, they have chosen one of the best.

afadel
494
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afadel 08/20/12 - 03:43 pm
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7
Watch out, Pebble Beach!

Condi Rice's first act as member of August will be to concoct argument justifying invasion of Pebble Beach

https://twitter.com/grossdm/status/237585216804376576

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