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
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    Ortiz takes Web.com Tour clubhouse lead in Bahamas

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:19 am

    Former Web.com Tour Player of the Year Carlos Ortiz shot a bogey-free, 4-under-par 68 Monday to take the clubhouse lead in The Bahamas Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Emerald Bay.

    Four other players - Lee McCoy, Brandon Matthews, Sung Jae Im and Mark Anderson - were still on the course and tied with Ortiz at 6-under 210 when third-round play was suspended by darkness at 5:32 p.m. local time. It is scheduled to resume at 7:15 a.m. Tuesday.

    Ortiz, a 26-year-old from Guadalajara, Mexico, is in search of his fourth Web.com Tour victory. In 2014, the former University of North Texas standout earned a three-win promotion on his way to being voted Web.com Tour Player of the Year.

    McCoy, a 23-year-old from Dunedin, Fla., is looking to become the first player to earn medalist honors at Q-School and then win the opening event of the season.

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    Randall's Rant: Can we please have some rivalries?

    By Randall MellJanuary 16, 2018, 12:00 am

    Memo to the golf gods:

    If you haven’t finalized the fates of today’s stars for the new year, could we get you to deliver what the game has lacked for so long?

    Can we get a real, honest-to-goodness rivalry?

    It’s been more than two decades since the sport has been witness to one.

    With world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship this week, an early-season showdown would percolate hope that this year might be all about rivalries.

    It seems as if the stars are finally aligned to make up for our long drought of rivalries, of the recurring clashes you have so sparingly granted through the game’s history.

    We’re blessed in a new era of plenty, with so many young stars blossoming, and with Tiger Woods offering hope he may be poised for a comeback. With Johnson, McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Brooks Koepka and Rickie Fowler among today’s dynamic cast, the possibility these titans will time their runs together on the back nine of Sundays in majors excites.

    We haven’t seen a real rivalry since Greg Norman and Nick Faldo sparred in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Woods vs. Phil Mickelson didn’t really count. While Lefty will be remembered for carving out a Hall of Fame career in the Tiger era, with 33 victories, 16 of them with Tiger in the field, five of them major championships, we get that Tiger had no rival, not in the most historic sense.

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    Phil never reached No. 1, was never named PGA Tour Player of the Year, never won a money title and never dueled with Woods on Sunday on the back nine of a major with the title on the line.  Still, it doesn’t diminish his standing as the best player not named Tiger Woods over the last 20 years. It’s a feat so noteworthy it makes him one of the game’s all-time greats.

    We’ve been waiting for an honest-to-goodness rivalry since Faldo and Norman took turns ruling at world No. 1 and dueling in big events, including the back nine of multiple majors. 

    In the '70s, we had Nicklaus-Watson. In the '60s, it was Nicklaus-Palmer. In the '40s and '50s, it was Hogan, Snead and Nelson in a triumvirate mix, and in the '20s and '30s we had Hagen and Sarazen.

    While dominance is the magic ingredient that can break a sport out of its niche, a dynamic rivalry is the next best elixir.

    Dustin Johnson looks capable of dominating today’s game, but there’s so much proven major championship talent on his heels. It’s hard to imagine him consistently fending off all these challengers, but it’s the fending that would captivate us.

    Johnson vs. McIlroy would be a fireworks show. So would Johnson vs. Thomas, or Thomas vs. Day or McIlroy vs. Rahm or Fowler vs. Koepka ... or any of those combinations.

    Spieth is a wild card that intrigues.

    While he’s not a short hitter, he isn’t the power player these other guys are, but his iron game, short game, putter and moxie combine to make him the most compelling challenger of all. His resolve, resilience and resourcefulness in the final round of his British Open victory at Royal Birkdale make him the most interesting amalgam of skill since Lee Trevino.

    Woods vs. any of them? Well, if we get that, we promise never to ask for anything more.

    So, if that cosmic calendar up there isn’t filled, how about it? How about a year of rivalries to remember?

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    McIlroy: 2018 may be my busiest season ever

    By Will GrayJanuary 15, 2018, 6:28 pm

    With his return to competition just days away, Rory McIlroy believes that the 2018 season may be the most action packed of his pro career.

    The 28-year-old has not teed it up since the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in early October, a hiatus he will end at this week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. It will be the start of a busy spring for the Ulsterman, who will also play next week in Dubai before a run of six PGA Tour events leading up to the Masters.

    Speaking to the U.K.'s Telegraph, McIlroy confirmed that he will also make a return trip to the British Masters in October and plans to remain busy over the next 12 months.

    "I might play more times this year than any before. I played 28 times in 2008 and I'm on track to beat that," McIlroy said. "I could get to 30 (events), depending on where I'm placed in the Race to Dubai. But I'll see."

    McIlroy's ambitious plan comes in the wake of a frustrating 2017 campaign, when he injured his ribs in his first start and twice missed chunks of time in an effort to recover. He failed to win a worldwide event and finished the year ranked outside the top 10, both of which had not happened since 2008.

    But having had more than three months to get his body and swing in shape, McIlroy is optimistic heading into the first of what he hopes will be eight starts in the 12 weeks before he drives down Magnolia Lane.

    "I've worked hard on my short game and I'm probably feeling better with the putter than I ever have," McIlroy said. "I've had a lot of time to concentrate on everything and it all feels very good and a long way down the road."

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    What's in the Bag: Sony Open winner Kizzire

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 15, 2018, 6:05 pm

    Patton Kizzire earned his second PGA Tour victory by winning a six-hole playoff at the Sony Open in Hawaii. Take a look inside his bag.

    Driver: Titleist 917D3 (10.5 degrees), with Fujikura Atmos Black 6 X shaft

    Fairway Wood: Titleist 917F2 (16.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Blue 95 TX shaft

    Hybrid: Titleist 913H (19 degrees), with UST Mamiya AXIV Core 100 Hybrid shaft

    Irons: Titleist 718 T-MB (4), 718 CB (5-6), 718 MB (7-9), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Wedges: Titleist SM7 prototype (47, 52, 56, 60 degrees), with True Temper Dynamic Gold X100 shafts

    Putter: Scotty Cameron GoLo Tour prototype

    Ball: Titleist Pro V1x