Reactions To Augusta's Monday Morning News, Vol. 2

Quite an array of takes on the Augusta National membership change, as you'd expect, so here goes in no particular order.

John Paul Newport on why the club had to act if it was going to be taken seriously on matters related to growing the game.

Billy Payne, Augusta’s current chairman, endured an unusually hostile grilling about the issue at his annual chairman’s press conference before the tournament in April. Many of the questions focused on the club’s support for growing the game, including for golf’s First Tee program, which seeks to pass along the game and its values to boys and girls, many from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Jason Sobel offers some perspective for those not fawning over something that should have happened a while ago.

Anyone considering this decision analogous to a double eagle on the course should remember that it comes on the heels of years of triple bogeys.

Annika Sorenstam tweeted that this is a "historic day for the game of golf."

ESPN's Darren Rovell, apparently laboring under the delusion that female guests visiting Augusta National over the years were served roadkill in the servants quarters, tweeted:

Just because Augusta has now let women in doesn’t mean their job is over. They need to make women feel comfortable there.

He also penned an odd commentary suggesting that because the club sells a chicken biscuit for $1.50.

All you have to do is look at the Masters concession prices and you can make the argument that Augusta National tries harder than almost any other business in America not to make money.

This year, you could get cookies for $1, a cup of coffee for $1 or a muffin for $1. Really want to splurge? Go for that imported beer for $3.75.

Not bowing down to the almighty dollar created a problem for anyone who felt that excluding women was unfair. When money isn't a factor, there's little you can do.

He goes on to point out that the decision prevents them from being pressured by the money. The money he says they try hard not to make.

Thankfully Rovell did tweet this statement from AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson.

Masters sponsor AT&T issues statement on Augusta National letting women in: "As a sponsor of The Masters, we applaud today's historic announcement by Augusta National and warmly welcome Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as members of Augusta National.”

AP's Seanna Adcox tells us more about Darla Moore, who has given a lot of money away in the name of charity and in making politicians look bad!

She has served on a number of corporate, medical and university boards, but she is perhaps best known in South Carolina as a philanthropist. Moore is the top donor to the University of South Carolina, pledging $75 million since 1998, when the business school was named after her. She also donated $10 million to her late father's alma mater, Clemson University.

Much of her philanthropy is done behind the scenes, as she eschews the spotlight.

Some of Golf Channel's analysis from today's Golf Central coverage:

On the membership process at Augusta National:

Golf Channel Analyst Frank Nobilo: “This is a process that would not be done just overnight.  I imagine this would have taken five or six years like it does take for any other member…Augusta National doesn’t make mistakes.  They might be conservative, but there are no mulligans at Augusta.  And this is no exception.”
Hack: “These are two women with impeccable credentials.  The Masters took their time to find the two women they wanted to represent their club.”
On the significance of this day for women in golf:

Sorenstam: “This is an organization that has been male dominated in so many ways.  For them to open up, it has been such a talked about debate for so long, now we can close the chapter.  We can move on.  I think that they are really showing that traditions can change.  The women they have invited, they are very highly respected women and business leaders.  In my opinion, this is a win-win situation.”
Golf Channel Contributor John Feinstein: “It is another one of those invisible walls knocked down…There are still all-men’s clubs around the world, including the Royal and Ancient.  But arguably, the most important men’s club in the world is no longer a men’s club.” 

From SI's excellent impromptu roundtable on the news and what it means for the game.

Gary Van Sickle, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I was pretty sure Billy Payne was too smart and too much of a diplomat to let this issue continue to taint the Masters, but I was beginning to wonder what was taking him so long. Now that it's done, it seems so easy, so obvious.

Hanger: Right. My first thought was, finally. Payne seemed genuinely flustered with the harsh questioning this year, and I wonder if behind closed doors that led him to push for the change. The issue was clearly not going away, so they really didn't have much of a choice.

Alan Shipnuck, senior writer, Sports Illustrated: I'm happy the club did the right thing so we can put all of this unpleasantness behind us.

Paul Newberry brings up the sticky issue of the R&A and its gender issues, which include visiting men-only Muirfield next year and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club (different than the R&A remembrer!) and their male-only membership.

On the other side of the Atlantic, where this quirky little game actually started and the sport's oldest major championship is held every summer, they've got their own gender issues.

The next British Open will be at Muirfield, which is men only. The resistance to women is epitomized by a tale passed down through the years - who knows if it's actually true or not - that there was once a break-in at the clubhouse, but they wouldn't let the police inside because a female officer showed up to investigate.
Chuckle, chuckle.

Only one problem.

This is no laughing matter.

Not anymore.

Scott Michaux, who has been covering this story for a long time, offers this:

Since taking over as chairman of the club in 2006, Payne has made it his personal mission to use Augusta National’s notoriety and resources to “grow the game” around the world.

But all of those growth efforts, however noble, rang a little hollow when half of the world’s population was excluded from ever having the chance of becoming a member at Augusta. Of course the odds of anyone becoming a member are slimmer than winning the Mega Millions lottery (and that would obviously help one’s chances), but infinitesimal is better than zero every day.

Augusta National inviting women members is a symbol of growth and equality, and an important one.

Lorne Rubenstein says the news "reminds us of how backward golf at the highest levels can be, and too often is."

But Augusta National today is getting attention around the world because it has admitted two women as members. The club is far and away the exception to the rule that golf is a game for everybody. Why should it be applauded because it now admits female members? It’s off-putting when reactionaries are perceived as revolutionaries. Augusta National’s admitting female members isn’t a cause for celebration. If it's a cause for anything, it’s a cause for reflection.

Stina Sternberg, a longtime critic, calls the day momentous.

The fact that Augusta owes nothing to anybody is precisely what makes today's announcement such a huge moment. Clearly, financial and political pressures have never bothered the green jackets. If anything, it's only spurred them to stick to their "traditions" even more. But they knew this had to be done if the game was to thrive. The desire to do the right thing for the image of golf finally superseded the need to have the last word.

Colleague Ashley Mayo says not so fast.

As much as golf is believed to be stuck in the 19th century, the fact is the overwhelming majority of golf courses welcome women with open arms. The overwhelming majority of manufacturers make golf clubs specifically for women. The overwhelming majority of apparel companies create gear exclusively for women. This has been the case for years, and will continue to be so for years to come.

Lester Munson wonders how Condi is going to explain this to the Stanford faculty and what would have happened if the new female members had just said no. Then again, how would we have known if she said no?