Honey's Huddle

Old Boys, Invite New Girls: But, So What?

If you looked up the term “old boys cub” in the dictionary, you’d likely find a picture of Augusta National Golf Club right up top. Augusta was founded in 1933 and since 1934 has played host to the annual Masters’ Tournament, one of the four major championships in professional golf and the only major played each year at the same course.

The exclusive club has operated with politically incorrect membership policies for a long, long time. They didn’t admit black members until 1990 – yes, 1990 – and women have never been welcome. The managers of the club have always defended these policies, pointing out that this is a private club.

Retired club Chairman of Augusta, William “Hootie” Johnson, said, “Our membership is single gender just as many other organizations and clubs all across America. These would include Junior Leagues, sororities, fraternities, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts… And we all have a moral and legal right to organize our clubs the way we wish.”

Just last week, Augusta changed gears and admitted two female members, former Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice – yep, she’s a golfer, and a good sport, too – and financier, Darla Moore.

“Hootie” takes credit for the nomination of Moore. “She has a long connection with me. I’ve had her as a guest at the club a number of times along with her husband. She’s a sweet lady.” He played golf with Moore and described her as “very good.” He wouldn’t comment, though, on these female nominations. “That’s a club matter that I’m not going to discuss.”

But, why have the gals been invited to play now? Will more be included soon? And why not Virginia Rometty the CEO if IBM. IBM is the one of the 3 largest sponsors of the Masters Tournament at Augusta every year. She has everything to say about the money funneled to the tournament. What about female family members of current club goers?

The media questioned current Augusta Chairman, Billy Payne, about these things and even dragged his granddaughters in to the questions, “Why now? Why them? Who else?” He answered carefully, saying he would not discuss private club membership policy, “And my conversations with my granddaughters are also personal.”

All of this palaver and hoopla over who can tee off on a nice golf course. Here’s my question: What has really been gained for the girls in this “triumph”?

There are many columns, comments and opinions about the whole thing. As for me, I don’t play golf. I don’t watch golf. And really, I don’t feel any more empowered as a woman as a result of all this. I frankly agree with Jen Floyd Engel of Fox Sports. She says, “To me, celebrating golf memberships is just another reminder of our tendency to fight for all the wrong things. It is proof that we celebrate the wrong victories. I mean how does Condi getting to play golf really help further gender equality?”

But, I am oddly curious about what in the world the club was trying to “prevent” by keeping women off the green for all these years.

What was going on that they didn’t want gals to see? What was it that they didn’t want ladies to be a part of? Surely they didn’t think they’d be beaten at their own game by a girl. Maybe they felt they wouldn’t be able to tell as many blonde jokes, or scratch themselves while standing in the lobby. Maybe they didn’t want the fairer sex to hear of the shenanigans in the steam room.

Whatever the antiquated, caveman logic behind this now defunct policy, I am glad it has been put to bed. I don’t see it as a matter of gender equality as much as a small shift in the partnership between men and women in the upper echelons of our culture. Maybe the trickle down will look like some respect and understanding as we “tee up” in other places side-by-side with the guys.

And hey, who doesn’t like a good blonde joke once in a while?

Images via Fox Sports & Beat