Originally created 11/20/02

Has 'private' lost its meaning?



Private - adj. Designed or intended for one's exclusive use. The Augusta National Golf Club is a private organization and should be allowed to exclude whomever it wants.

After Martha Burk, chairwoman of the National Council of Women's Organizations, wrote a letter to Hootie Johnson, chairman of the Augusta National, tensions rose. Ms. Burk is pressuring Augusta National to allow women to join the club. Surprisingly though, Ms. Burk does not have many allies among female golfers, and few women support her cause.

Because it is a private organization, the Augusta National cannot be legally compelled to change membership. A restaurant, though privately owned, is open to the public and, as such, must serve all who have the means to pay. But because the Augusta National is a private club and not open to the public, it is not forced to admit everyone.

Although by invitation, women have, in fact, played on the golf course. Women - wives, daughters and female guests of male members - have full access to the golf course and facilities at Augusta National. Women play an estimated 1,000 rounds of golf a year there.

Knowing that the Augusta National hosts a world-famous tournament, Ms. Burk is only targeting the Augusta National because she yearns for more exposure and recognition in the media. We all know there are far more important situations that yearn for the equality of women.

One such issue is the quality of life for the battered women in Afghanistan. The NCWO is currently working with Congress to ensure human rights for the battered and oppressed women of Afghanistan. This is an example of good work.

The NCWO is also pressuring the private, all-male Augusta National Golf Club to allow women members. This is an example of whining. The NCWO is de-legitimizing its own cause by waging a war that has no bearing on the real fight for women's rights.

Monica Shah, Martinez, Ga.