Finchem: Masters Tournament is "too important" to lose

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 6:06 PM
Last updated 6:10 PM
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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said Wednesday the Masters is “too important” for the tour to take it off its official schedule, even though Augusta National has never had a female member in its 80-year history.

PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said during a news conference before this week's event, The Players Championship, that the Masters Tournament is "too important" to lose off its schedule even though the Augusta National Golf Club has never had a female member in its 80-year history.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said during a news conference before this week's event, The Players Championship, that the Masters Tournament is "too important" to lose off its schedule even though the Augusta National Golf Club has never had a female member in its 80-year history.

“We have concluded a number of times now -- and we have certainly not moved off of this -- that we are not going to give up the Masters as a tournament on our tour,” Finchem said. “It’s too important. And so at the end of the day, the membership of that club have to determine their membership. They are not doing anything illegal.”

Finchem spoke at a news conference that featured The First Tee announcing a new corporate partner. The First Tee tries to attract kids of diverse backgrounds to golf.

The tour policy is not to co-sanction a tournament played on a golf course that does not allow women or minority members. Among the courses it lost when the policy was created included Cypress Point in California and Butler National outside Chicago.

The tour does not run the Masters or any of the other three majors.

“But we just elect to continue to recognize them as an official money event on the PGA Tour because we think it’s that important to golf,” Finchem said. “We don’t get to determining whether their policies are right or wrong, because we don’t have to, because we made the conclusion that regardless of those policies, we are going to continue to play and recognize them as part of the PGA Tour. I know some people don’t like that position, and I appreciate that and I understand their reasoning.

“But that’s the decision we’ve made.”

The all-male membership at Augusta National first became an issue in the summer of 2002, when Martha Burk challenged then-club chairman Hootie Johnson to invite a female member. Johnson and the club held its ground, even cutting loose its TV sponsors for two years to keep them out of the fray.

It resurfaced this year because Virginia Rometty took over as chief executive of IBM, the first female CEO in the 100-year history of Big Blue. IBM is one of the corporate sponsors of the Masters, and the previous four CEOs of the company were invited to join.

Rometty was at the Masters for the final round, wearing a pink jacket.

Finchem was challenged in 2002 to back the tour’s anti-discriminatory policy by not counting the Masters as an official win, or counting the earnings toward the money list. He declined then, and stood by his position when it was brought up on the eve of The Players Championship.

He said it was not a position of saying the Masters was more important than gender equity.

“What we’re saying is, that goes back to what we were asked to do a few years ago,” Finchem said. “We were asked publicly, ‘Why wouldn’t we disengage recognizing the Masters as part of the PGA Tour?’ At that time, we said we would not do that. I’m just saying our position on that hasn’t changed.”

Finchem said because the tour does not have a contract with the Masters, it has no leverage to enforce tour policies.

“We can choose to recognize them or not,” Finchem said. “We feel like it is overly important for us as a sport that that tournament, which is so important to the history of the game, continue to be part of the PGA Tour. So we made that decision.”

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Insider Information
Insider Information 05/09/12 - 06:46 pm
Local politicians feel the

Local politicians feel the same way about their Masters. They are "too important" to lose so we let them do their thing and tell us how to do our thing.

Pu239 05/09/12 - 08:35 pm
Billy Payne

Billy stopped by the house the other day and told me that I had to keep my grass trimmed a little know....he had to tell me how to do my thing....(sarcasm_off)

Jake 05/09/12 - 08:40 pm
Stating the obvious

There is no way that the Masters tournament is not going to be a part of the PGA tour. When you look at major golf tournaments it is one of the big four. The Augusta National will allow women when they feel like it is the time. Even the great Bobby Jones played golf at his East Lake Country Club with a very good local woman golfer and always spoke very favorably of her and her game.

jbenny2010 05/09/12 - 09:04 pm
If the Augusta National was a

If the Augusta National was a public course, we would have an issue; however, it is a private club, so it's really none of our business how they conduct their club. The PGA Tour is correct.

nevertoolate 05/10/12 - 06:17 am
Leave 'em alone.

Some people just get their jollies on creating mayhem, and spreading hatred and discontent. Leave the Augusta National alone~it's their private club so allow them their right to make their own decisions without all this flack. Sometimes it's nice to see time-honored traditions actually...honored! If they don't want women or minorities belonging to their club, well then so let it be.

FriedFacts 05/10/12 - 06:31 am
It's not as if women are

It's not as if women are banned from the National. It's just that they aren't members of the club. The way I'd handle it is admit women and have separate meetings for the men and women unless a joint one was required. We could carry this minority representation thing to the extreme. Should gays be represented too?

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 05/10/12 - 07:58 am
You Know

You know, sometimes a simple “no comment” would be more powerful than a statement like Finchem made.

realitycheck09 05/10/12 - 12:15 pm
The whole "women at Augusta"

The whole "women at Augusta" thing is the biggest media-made fairy tale. No one gives a crap about it other than a bunch of angry, washed up feminists from the 60s like Martha Berk.

kiwiinamerica 05/10/12 - 05:21 pm
Damage control

Ya know folks, for some people, the idea of a group of guys getting together and enjoying themselves, without any women present, is just intolerable. So we have this ridiculous ruckus over the National's membership policy. Sadly, as far as the PGA Tour is concerned, the damage has already been done. When it decided not to co-sanction events at clubs that do not allow women members, it made a BIG mistake.

The rest is just damage control, which is what Fincham (lamely) is doing here. His statement is pathetic.

This whole "equality" shtick has become totally oppressive and coercive and, if I as an immigrant might say so, un-American.

Bizkit 05/10/12 - 05:20 pm
I think Azziz hates golf and

I think Azziz hates golf and is eyeing the land for develpment of his empire. Hee,hee,hee.

JRC2024 05/13/12 - 10:08 am
The Augusta national is

The Augusta national is private just like the Augusta country club and west lake country club. Not all can be members and may not want to be. Their policy is their policy period.

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