On August 20, the Associated Press reported that the Augusta National Golf Club would finally admit female members, with the inaugural members being Darla Moore and Condoleezza Rice. This is a landmark announcement for a highly-restrictive Old Boys Club that only invited its first black member in 1990. Over the last several days, Augusta National Chairman Billy Payne has made celebratory statements to the media, but you have to wonder how genuine the comments are.
It’s hard to believe that we’re in 2012 and Augusta is finally admitting female members. At any given time, the prestigious golf club’s membership hovers around 300, so the overall percentage of women in the club now sits somewhere around a paltry 0.6%. On one hand, the news is worthy of celebration, because this is certainly a major announcement for Augusta, and there’s a possibility that the entrance of Moore and Rice will open the floodgates to additional female members. On the other hand, this announcement should have taken place many years ago.
Another important take-away from the announcement is that while Augusta has taken so long to admit female members, there were obviously members within the current membership that fought to ensure that Moore and Rice receive invitations. With Moore and Rice added to the mix, I hope to see golfers such as Annika Sorrenstam gain admission in the future.
Creating meaningful change, as evidenced by Augusta’s exclusivity, can take an enormous amount of time. But now that Moore and Rice will don the famed green jackets, perhaps we are seeing a tipping point in the works. The 0.6% could jump to 6%, then to 10%, 20% and beyond. Over the period of many years – and possibly decades – of course. Such a change of culture, in my opinion, would be a true cause for celebration.