The 80-year tradition of it being an all-male golf club went by the wayside in a big way, with the additions of Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as members.
Rice is the popular former U.S. secretary of state, while Moore is a highly successful and respected businesswoman in South Carolina.
The tradition that was honored is just as important: The club decided who its members would be, no one else.
Besides having been the country’s chief diplomat, Ms. Rice has become a leading ambassador for the game of golf. And her inclusion is a good fit with the Augusta National’s fervent mission to grow the game.
“I have long admired the important role Augusta National has played in the traditions and history of golf,” she 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.”
Both women were the height of graciousness in accepting the invitation to membership, and their induction in October will be an event to remember.
But even as big an announcement as it was – it rocked the sporting world Monday – it’s important not to make more of it than it is.
It means that the existing membership wanted these two exemplary women included in the club (which already hosts women all the time). It doesn’t mean the club bowed to any pressure; that was attempted 10 years ago. The club simply did what it wanted to do, when it wanted to.
That’s the kind of freedom a private club should have.
Nor does the announcement say anything about the propriety of single-gender clubs, which should always have their place in a free society.
But Monday was a historic day at Augusta National, and that’s saying something.