Breaking Male Exclusivity at Augusta National?

Sports news is rarely included here on Skepchick, however as the unofficial SportsSkepchick it is my duty to fill you in when it is important. As the Masters (the word's most famous PGA golf tournament) approaches, the issue of feminism always arises. The Masters is held at a staunchly conservative golf club in Augusta, GA where American Southern stereotypes are as effervescent as gravy on biscuits. This golf club is exclusive for many reasons, but by far the most notable reason is they have never had a female member since their inception in 1933. Very few titles in the world historically guarantee a membership invitation, but a woman recently obtained one. What is Augusta National going to do? 

I should note it is extremely difficult to get a membership to Augusta National for anyone. Their membership list includes the elite of the elite, particularly big wig CEOs and founders of America's biggest corporations including Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Traditionally, the CEO of IBM has been extended a membership invitation to Augusta, including four former IBM CEOs. In January 2012, Ginni Rometty became CEO of the company and she is still waiting on her invitation to the famous all male golf club. 

First, can we take a moment to applaud Rometty for becoming CEO of one the world's most influential technology companies? Here at Skepchick, we spend considerable time discussing the difficulties women have exceling in science and technology– here we have a woman kicking some major ass! I doubt she is losing any sleep over the golf issue, but it is an interesting conundrum for the club that prides themselves on one thing: tradition. 

Either way Augusta National is going to have to break tradition- allowing in a women or not allowing the IBM CEO membership. Is Augusta National finally going to bite the bullet and let a woman in their boys club? The Masters, their most premiere event, has three main sponsors and IBM is one of them. So they certainly have incentive. 

I will be shocked if they give her a green jacket, the mandatory attire of all members. There has always been overwhelming reluctance to resolve the issue despite pressure from media and women's organizations. The last chairman of Augusta National, Hooty Johnson, received significant pressure in 2002 from Martha Burke, the then chairwoman of the National Coucil of Women's Organizations. He stood firm in his beliefs with his notable quote in 2003 that his position on female membership wouldn't change 'if I drop dead now.' In 2006, Billy Payne became the chairman of Augusta National. He has been trying to reform the club's archaic image, however hasn't resolved this primary issue.

Only time will tell if the world at Augusta is really a changin'. 




Jacqueline, a true Floridian, wandered up to the tundra of Athens, Georgia to receive her PhD in computational quantum chemistry. Returning to her roots, she is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher in Tampa in the field of computational biochemistry investigating the wonders of penicillin-like drugs. When she is not slaving over the computer, her varied interests include international travel, Brazilian jiu jitsu, kickboxing, fancy food, (American) football, and Belgian quadrupels. She is also the founder of EligibleReceiver.com, a football blog with an exclusive female writing staff. Check out her sports ramblings there or follow her on Twitter @jhargis9.

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  1. I recall reading that Bill gates had made a couple of public statements about wanting to be a member at Augusta. Apparently those statements were frowned on by the membership and probably resulted in Gates getting his green jacket a few years later than he otherwise would have. Stubborn, filthy rich, old, conservative, uber-privileged, and predominately southern white guys don’t move very fast. And while they did change their race membership rule I can only assume the decision to welcome a woman member will be on their own terms and only when there is an opportunity where it does not look like they caved to outside pressure. Not much different than a bunch of 10 year old boys with a tree house and super secret club rules, except for that amazing golf course and all the servants.

  2. There are scores of female-only health clubs in the U.S. Augusta has not ignored the opportunity to use those to buttress its argument that a male-only golf club is proper. I think all of this sexist crap needs to go.

  3. "…where American Southern stereotypes are as effervescent as gravy on biscuits."

    Biscuits and gravy is effervescent? 
    Someone's been makin' y'all's gravy WRONG.

  4. If I was Rometty and I was offered the member ship, I'd either flat out (and publically) refuse it, or I'd turn up for one round, and then decline. Oh, and I'd wear the chinziest green jacket I could find.
    Damn boys clubs.

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