Burk Appeals Ruling on Augusta Gate Protest

By Golf Channel NewsroomApril 9, 2003, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Martha Burk isn't giving up on the idea of picketing at the front gate of the men's-only Augusta National Golf Club.
 
Burk and her allies headed to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday after a district judge ruled the city can restrict protests to a site a half-mile away from the club's main entrance.
 
With the Masters set to begin Thursday, Burk asked for an emergency ruling from the Atlanta-based appeals court.
 
``Time is growing short,'' she said Tuesday in a telephone interview. ``That's not usual for authorities who are not acting in good faith to try to delay past the point where if makes no difference.''
 
Burk, who wants the club to allow female members, plans to protest Saturday during the third round of the Masters.
 
She asked to set up pickets outside the main gate, believing that would be the most effective way to get her message across.
 
But Sheriff Ronald Strength, who was given broad power to regulate protests under a new city ordinance, relegated Burk and other groups to a location away from the gate -- a grassy, 5.1-acre site donated by the club.
 
Strength said the area in front of the gate, including five-lane Washington Road, is too congested during Masters week to hold a protest safely.
 
U.S. District Judge Dudley H. Bowen Jr. upheld the city ordinance and Strength's application of the law in two separate rulings Monday.
 
``I think it's clear they acted in the best interest of the city and the club rather than the best interests of the First Amendment,'' Burk said. ``Party revelers are taking precedent over protesters.''
 
On Tuesday, the area in front of the gate was crowded with people heading to the course to watch practice on a drizzly, gray day.
 
The fans intermingled on the sidewalk with vendors selling everything from sunglasses to Arnold Palmer pictures. A waitress from a Japanese restaurant handed out coupons for 50-cent beer and a free shot of saki.
 
Meanwhile, the designated protest area was empty except for Todd Manzi and two supporters. Manzi has founded an anti-Burk Web site.
 
``I believe a private club has the right to choose who they want in their club,'' said Judy Collins, who collected signatures in support of Augusta National chairman Hootie Johnson.
 
Wearing a green ``Hootie'' hat, she stood under a tent that was decorated with signs such as ``Just Say No To Bully Burk'' and ``The Only Woman Martha Burk Has Helped Is Martha Burk.'' Collins said she hopes to present Burk with a petition that supposedly contains more than 8,000 signatures backing the club's position.
 
``I don't think she'll let me,'' Collins said with a smile.
 
Meanwhile, a single sheriff's car was parked nearby, with nothing much to do except watch the passing traffic.
 
A group headed by the Rev. Jesse Jackson also has been approved to protest at a second site even further away from the club's main entrance.
 
Burk, who heads the National Council of Women's Organizations, wanted to post 24 demonstrators outside the front gate of Augusta National and 200 more across the street. Strength turned down the request.
 
Working with Burk, the ALCU of Georgia challenged the ordinance, saying it gives the sheriff too much power to approve or deny protests and dictate their location.
 
Bowen sided with the city.
 
``The ordinance does not discriminate against a particular viewpoint or limit speech to certain subject matters,'' he wrote in his first decision.
 
Bowen also ruled that Strength acted properly to enforce the ordinance.
 
``I am without doubt that the reasons articulated by the sheriff are grounded in legitimate concerns for public safety, and not in the impermissible purposes of preventing embarrassment to the Augusta National or the city of Augusta,'' the judge wrote.
 
Burk said the site proposed by the sheriff is ``unacceptable.''
 
``It is out of sight of the club,'' she said. ``It's even below the grade of the street. You actually have to drive down a few feet to get to it. It sounds like we're truly in the pits.''
 
While much of the field is lower than Washington Road, it's still visible to passing motorists. Bowen wrote that the city-approved site is actually better for protesters trying to influence players and club members.
 
``This group must arrive by way of Washington Road,'' the judge wrote. ``If, as most of them probably will, they arrive by automobile from the westbound lanes of Washington Road, they will see the protesters at the alternate site if they choose to look.''
 
Augusta National said it has no interest in the court case. Inside the club, no one was allowed to express an opinion on the dispute -- pro or con.
 
``No cell phones, no pagers, no Hootie stuff, no Martha stuff,'' a security guard barked as fans entered the gates.
 
The golfers also tried to stay out of the brouhaha.
 
``We're really not thinking about it too much,'' Billy Mayfair said. ``It doesn't feel any different this year than any other year.''
 
The sheriff's office has approved protest permits for eight groups, including a one-man faction of the Ku Klux Klan and ``People Against Ridiculous Protests.''
 
Burk said she is ``very concerned'' about all those groups being confined to the same site.
 
``We want to find out what the plan is to maintain order given the fact that they've put groups such as the KKK right on top of us,'' he said. ``I think the sheriff is obligated to give us adequate protection.''
 
City attorney Jim Wall said the protesters shouldn't worry.
 
``The sheriff is going to make arrangements to keep the groups separated,'' Wall said. ``He will have adequate officers there to address any issues that may come up.''
 
Related Links:
  • 2003 Masters Tournament Mini-Site
  • Tournament Coverage
  • The Augusta National Membership Debate: A Chronology
  • Day, Spieth chasing Davis after Day 1 of Aussie Open

    By Jason CrookNovember 23, 2017, 6:50 am

    The PGA Tour is off this week but a couple of the circuit’s biggest stars – Jordan Spieth and Jason Day – are headlining the Emirates Australian Open, the first event in The Open Qualifying Series for the 2018 Open at Carnoustie. Here's how things look after the opening round, where Cameron Davis has opened up a two-shot lead:

    Leaderboard: Cameron Davis (-8), Taylor MacDonald (-6), Nick Cullen (-5), Jason Day (-5), Brian Campbell (-4), Lucas Herbert (-4), Stephen Leaney (-4), Anthony Quayle (-4)

    What it means: Jordan Spieth has won this event three of the last four years, including last year, but he got off to a rocky start on Thursday. Playing in the windy afternoon wave, the world No. 2 bogeyed his first two holes but rebounded with birdies on Nos. 4 and 5. It was more of the same the rest of the way as the 24-year-old carded three more bogeys and four birdies, getting into the clubhouse with a 1-under 70. While it certainly wasn't the start he was hoping for, Spieth didn't shoot himself out of the tournament with 54 holes left to play, he has plenty of time to claw his way up the leaderboard.

    Round of the day: With Round 1 in the books, the solo leader, Davis, is the easy pick here. The 22-year-old Aussie who turned pro last year, came out of the gates on fire, birdieing six of his first seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 4 through 7. He did drop a shot on the ninth hole to go out in 30 but rebounded with three more birdies on the back to card a 8-under 63. Davis, who was born in Sydney and played this year on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada. He will attempt to get his Web.com Tour card next month during qualifying in Arizona.

    Best of the rest: Making his first start in his home country in four years, Day started on the 10th hole at The Australian Golf Club and made four birdies to one bogey on the back side before adding four more circles after making the turn. Unfortunately for the 30-year-old, he also added an ugly double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole and had to settle for a 5-under 66, good enough to sit T-3. Day, who has dropped to No. 12 in the world rankings, is looking for his first win on any tour since the 2016 Players Championship.

    Main storyline heading into Friday: Can the upstart 22-year-old Davis hold off the star power chasing him or will he fold to the pressure of major champions in his rearview mirror? Day (afternoon) and Spieth (morning) are once again on opposite ends of the draw on Friday as they try to improve their position before the weekend.

    Shot of the day: It’s tough to beat an ace in this category, and we had one of those on Thursday from Australian Brad Shilton. Shilton’s hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole came with a special prize, a $16k watch.

    Quote of the day: “Just two bad holes. Pretty much just two bad swings for the day,” – Day, after his 66 on Thursday. 

    Watch: Shilton wins $16k timepiece with hole-in-one

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 2:50 am

    Australian Brad Shilton made a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole during the first round of the Australian Open, and he was rewarded handsomely for his efforts - with a Tag Heuer watch worth $16k.

    Day gets in early mix with 66 in return to Australia

    By Associated PressNovember 23, 2017, 2:32 am

    SYDNEY - Jason Day's first tournament round in Australia in four years was a 5-under 66 to put him among the leaders early Thursday at the Australian Open.

    Day's round came unhinged late with a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 eighth hole, his second-last of the day. He hit his tee shot into the trees on the left, hit back out to the fairway, missed his approach to the green and then couldn't get up and down.

    ''That was brutal,'' Day said of the 481-yard hole that played into gusting winds.

    But Day recovered quickly to birdie his last to sit three strokes behind fellow Australian and early leader Cameron Davis, who started on the first, had six front-nine birdies and shot 63 at The Australian Golf Club.

    In between the two was Australian Taylor MacDonald, who shot 65.

    ''It was a pretty solid round, I didn't miss many fairways, I didn't miss many greens,'' Day said. ''I'd give myself a seven or eight out of 10.''

    Defending champion Jordan Spieth, attempting to win the Australian Open for the third time in four years, was off to a poor start among the afternoon players, bogeying his first two holes.

    The Sydney-born Davis played most of this season on the Mackenzie Tour in Canada and will attempt to secure his Web.com card in the final round of qualifying from Dec. 7-10 in Chandler, Arizona.

    ''Everything went to plan,'' Davis said. ''I got off to a great start. I was hitting my spots and was able to keep it together on the back nine.''

    NOTES: Australian Brad Shilton had the first ace of the tournament, using a 5-iron for a hole-in-one on the par-3, 188-yard 11th hole, his second hole of the day. Australian veteran Geoff Ogilvy, the 2006 U.S. Open winner, shot 69. He and Rod Pampling (68) played the first round with Day.

    Day: Woods feeling good, hitting it long

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 22, 2017, 9:33 pm

    Jason Day says Tiger Woods told him he feels better than he has in three years, which is good news for Woods a week ahead of his return to the PGA Tour at the Hero World Challenge.

    Day, a fellow Nike endorser, was asked about Woods during his news conference at the Emirates Australian Open on Wednesday. "I did talk to him," Day said, per a report in the Sydney Morning Herald,"and he did say it's the best he's ever felt in three years'" Day said.

    "He doesn't wake up with pain anymore, which is great. I said to him, 'Look, it's great to be one of the best players ever to live, but health is one thing that we all take for granted and if you can't live a happy, healthy life, then that's difficult.'"

    The Hero World Challenge will be played Nov. 30-Dec. 3 in the Bahamas and broadcast on Golf Channel and NBC.

    Day, who has had his own health issues, said he could empathize with Woods.

    "I totally understand where he's coming from, because sometimes I wake up in the morning and it takes me 10 minutes to get out of bed, and for him to be in pain for three years is very frustrating."

    Woods has not played since February after undergoing surgery following a recurrence of back problems.

    "From what I see on Instagram and what he's been telling me, he says he's ready and I'm hoping that he is, because from what I hear, he's hitting it very long," Day said.

    "And if he's hitting it long and straight, then that's going to be tough for us because it is Tiger Woods. He's always been a clutch putter and in amongst the best and it will be interesting to see.

    "There's no pressure. I think it's a 17- or 18-man field, there's no cut, he's playing at a tournament where last year I think he had the most birdies at."