Payne sticks to policy, declines to comment on membership issues at the Masters

By Associated PressApril 4, 2012, 4:02 pm

AUGUSTA, Ga. – Even at the point of a bayonet, Billy Payne wouldn’t budge.

Jabbed, prodded and poked repeatedly at his annual news conference about whether a woman would become a member at the home of the Masters, the Augusta National chairman wouldn’t offer a thing. It was a topical issue again Wednesday because one of the club’s longtime sponsors, IBM, has a new female CEO – Virginia Rometty. The last four CEOs at IBM, all male, have been members.

Payne’s responses were in direct contrast to his predecessor, Hootie Johnson, who when faced with the issue 10 years ago, famously declared female membership would come on the club’s timetable and “not at the point of a bayonet.”

“As has been the case whenever that question is asked, all issues of membership have been and are subject to private deliberations of the members,” Payne said. “That statement remains accurate and that remains my statement.”

Asked to expand on his refusal to comment, he gave two reasons: “Number One, we don’t talk about our private deliberations. Number Two, we especially don’t talk about them when a named candidate is part of the question.”

He did not say whether Rometty was that specific “named candidate.”

Four more reporters came at the question from different angles—What would you tell your granddaughters? How does this help grow the sport?—to get Payne to expand on the topic and he politely swatted them away, preferring to talk about the weather, developments of the club’s digital platforms and other issues surrounding the tournament that starts Thursday.

Asked whether it takes away from the tournament when the issue of female membership surfaces in the lead-up, Payne also offered very little.

“There’s certainly a difference of opinion on that,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve formed an opinion on that. But certainly people have different opinions on that subject.”

The issue first came up 10 years ago, when Martha Burk, then the chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, campaigned for Augusta National to end its all-male membership and threatened to boycott companies whose executives belonged to the club. Johnson responded by cutting loose corporate backers and the Masters was televised without commercials for the next two years. A planned protest before the 2003 Masters was a dud and the issue slowly receded.

Today, in addition to IBM, Exxon Mobile and AT&T are also sponsors of the Masters.

When Payne replaced Johnson as chairman of the club and of the Masters tournament in 2006, he said there was “no specific timetable” for admitting women. The question was raised at the 2007 and 2010 Masters. Both times, Payne said membership issues were private.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 2, Donald Trump

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 1:00 pm

Even away from the White House, President Donald Trump generated plenty of headlines this year.

Trump’s first year in office didn’t dim his enthusiasm for the game, as he made splashy appearances at two big events, tweeted about golf to his more than 44 million followers, teed it up with some of the sport’s biggest stars, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Lexi Thompson, and fired a few eyebrow-raising scores. Logging more than 75 rounds since his inauguration, the 3-handicap has only bolstered his reputation as the best golfing president, particularly after his alleged 73 with Sen. Lindsey Graham.

None of his appearances created a bigger stir than when he attended the U.S. Women’s Open. Despite protests and calls for the USGA to move its premier women’s event from Trump Bedminster – the president reportedly threatened to sue – his weekend there went off without incident, as Trump watched the action and hosted players in his private box near the 15th green.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


Despite his controversial rhetoric on a variety of national issues, Trump has remained a staunch supporter of women’s golf, and he became the first sitting president to attend the U.S. Women’s Open.

An honorary chairman of the Presidents Cup, Trump also flew to Liberty National for the biennial team event, where he presented the trophy to the U.S. team and dedicated the victory to the hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

In late November, amid tweets about the national anthem, Turkey, Egypt and Time Magazine, Trump announced that he was playing a round in South Florida with Woods and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson.

Yes, that too became a headline, just like everything else Trump did in 2017.


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Finances


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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 12:30 pm