Originally created 05/28/03

Burk shifts focus on golf club



ATLANTA - Martha Burk said Tuesday that the wall keeping women out of Augusta National Golf Club already has begun to topple.

But supporters of the club say her only success was in getting publicity for herself and her organization, the National Council of Women's Organizations.

Ms. Burk, who caused a national uproar over her crusade to alter the prestigious club's all-male membership, said the tipping point isn't always obvious when pushing over a heavy wall, but she said that started in December.

"The point came when John Snow was nominated for the secretary of the Treasury, and he knew, and more importantly, the president of the United States knew, that he would never be confirmed if he was the member of a club that discriminated against women," she said Tuesday at an Atlanta charity event. "He resigned, two hours after the nomination."

By December, Ms. Burk already had gained considerable publicity by announcing she would lead a protest at the club during the Masters Tournament in April. When the day of her protest came, reporters, police and counterprotesters outnumbered her group, and public opinion surveys showed that most Americans questioned believe that the club should be allowed to pick its own members without input from outsiders.

On Tuesday, Ms. Burk said she and her followers have shifted gears.

"We will now start protesting with our pocketbooks and not placards," she said. "We made the point with placards. It's time now to move on."

She said they have begun a campaign of introducing shareholder resolutions at the annual meetings of corporations run by members of the club. The resolutions ask the executives to resign their memberships.

The club maintains it has lost no members other than Mr. Snow and former CBS Chief Executive Thomas Wyman, who resigned in November, shortly before his death. The club doesn't expect to lose more.

"In the last year, the American public has repeatedly expressed its disdain for Ms. Burk's radical political views," said Glenn Greenspan, club spokesman. "It's hard to understand, therefore, the usefulness of her speech unless it was to explain why she wasted everyone's time on a matter that in the end was regarded as meaningless."

Reach Walter C. Jones at (404) 589-8424 or wjones@morris.com.