Augusta National announces first female members

By Rex HoggardAugust 20, 2012, 3:40 pm

Augusta National Golf Club has invited former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore to become the first women members, the club confirmed in a statement early Monday.

Both women have accepted the membership, which begins with the club’s new season in October, ending 80 years of all-male membership.

“This is a joyous occasion,” Augusta National chairman Billy Payne said in a statement released by the club.

In 2002, Martha Burk, chairwoman of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, sent a letter to then-chairman Hootie Johnson asking the club to admit a female member. Johnson declined the request and released a scathing response saying the club would not be forced to change its membership policy “at the point of a bayonet.”


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The issue surfaced again this year after Virginia Rometty was appointed chief executive of IBM, one of the Masters’ corporate sponsors. The four previous IBM CEOs had all been members, leading to speculation Rometty would become the first woman to receive a green jacket.

The club, which opened in 1932 and did not admit a black member until 1990, normally admits new members at the start of its season in the fall.

Payne declined to address the issue in April saying, “As has been the case, whenever that question is asked, all issues of membership are now and have been historically subject to the private deliberations of the members.”

That makes Monday’s announcement regarding Rice and Moore a dramatic, albeit understandable, break in club policy. The club sent out a similar statement in 1990 when it admitted its first black member.

“Consideration with regard to any candidate is deliberate, held in strict confidence and always takes place over an extended period of time. The process for Condoleezza and Darla was no different,” said Payne, who took over as chairman when Johnson retired in 2006.

“These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership. It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their green jackets when the club opens this fall.”

A source close to the situation told The Associated Press that Rice and Moore were first considered for membership five years ago, four years after Burk led a protest of about 30 supporters in a lot down the street from the club during the Masters. The source also said prospective members often are not aware they are being considered.

Moore, 58, first rose to prominence in the 1980s with Chemical Bank, where she became the highest-paid woman in the banking industry. She is vice president of Rainwater, Inc., a private investment company founded by her husband, Richard Rainwater.

Moore, who worked with Johnson on South Carolina's $300 million capital campaign in the late 1990s, was mentioned as a possible Augusta National member during the height of the all-male membership debate in 2002.

“Augusta National has always captured my imagination, and is one of the most magically beautiful places anywhere in the world, as everyone gets to see during the Masters each April,” Moore told the AP. “I am fortunate to have many friends who are members at Augusta National, so to be asked to join them as a member represents a very happy and important occasion in my life.”

Johnson said in a statement to The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., “This is wonderful news for Augusta National Golf Club and I could not be more pleased. Darla Moore is my good friend, and I know she and Condoleezza Rice will enjoy the club as much as I have.”

Rice, 57, was the national security adviser under former President George W. Bush and became secretary of state in his second term. The first black woman to be a Stanford provost in 1993, she now is a professor of political economy at Stanford's Graduate School of Business and recently was appointed to the U.S. Golf Association’s nominating committee.

“I have visited Augusta National on several occasions and look forward to playing golf, renewing friendships and forming new ones through this very special opportunity,” Rice said in a statement. “I have long admired the important role Augusta National has played in the traditions and history of golf. I also have an immense respect for the Masters tournament and its commitment to grow the game of golf, particularly with youth, here in the United States and throughout the world.”

Reaction to the news across the golf world was widely supportive.

“The PGA Tour commends Augusta National Golf Club on the news that it has invited Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore to become its first women members,” Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said in a statement. “At a time when women represent one of the fastest growing segments in both playing and following the game of golf, this sends a positive and inclusive message for our sport.”

Four-time Masters champion Tiger Woods also applauded the move, telling the AP, “The decision by the Augusta National membership is important to golf.”

Although the club didn’t allow female members until now, women regularly play the venerable course, including the Sunday before the Masters.

“It’s inexcusable that it lasted this long,” said LPGA player Jan Stephenson, who has played the club a half-dozen times. “The women baby boomer will become the richest market in the world in the next 10 years. It’s going to be a major positive and great timing for good will for Augusta National and women’s golf. This is not a man’s world. Look at how many presidents of major companies are women now.”

Burk also felt like the move was overdue but applauded Monday’s announcement as step in the right direction. “It came sooner than I expected. I thought they were going to try to outlast me,” she told the AP. “I really thought they would wait until the women’s movement would get no credit. But if we had not done what we did, this would not have happened now.”

Day (68) just one back at Australian Open

By Nick MentaNovember 24, 2017, 6:40 am

Jason Day posted a second-round 68 to move himself just one off the lead held by Lucas Herbert through two rounds at the Emirates Australian Open. Here’s where things stand after 36 holes in Sydney.

Leaderboard: Herbert (-9), Day (-8), Cameron Davis (-7), Anthony Quayle (-6), Matt Jones (-4), Cameron Smith (-4), Nick Cullen (-4), Richard Green (-4)

What it means: Day is in search of his first worldwide victory of 2017. The former world No. 1 last visited the winner’s circle in May 2016, when he won The Players at TPC Sawgrass. A win this week would close out a difficult year for the Aussie who struggled with his game while also helping his mother in her battle with cancer. Day’s last victory on his native soil came in 2013, when he partnered with Adam Scott to win the World Cup of Golf for Australia at Royal Melbourne.


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Round of the day: Herbert followed an opening 67 with a round of 66 to vault himself into the lead at The Australian Golf Club. He made six birdies, including four on his second nine, against a lone bogey to take the outright lead. The 22-year-old, who held the lead at this event last year and captured low-amateur honors in 2014, is coming off a runner-up finish at the NSW Open Championship, which boosted him from 714th to 429th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His 5-under score was matched by Dale Brandt-Richards and Josh Cabban.

Best of the rest: Matt Jones, who won this event over Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott two years ago, turned in 4-under 67. Jones is best known to American audiences for his playoff victory at the 2014 Shell Houston Open and for holding the 36-hole lead at the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was eventually won by Day. Jones will start the weekend five shots off the lead, at 4 under par.

Biggest disappointment: Spieth has a lot of work to do this weekend if he expects to be in the title picture for the fourth year in a row. Rounds of 70-71 have him eight shots behind the lead held by Herbert. Spieth made a birdie and a bogey on each side Friday to turn in level par. The reigning champion golfer of the year has finished first, second and first at this event over the last three years.

Storyline to watch this weekend: The Australian Open is the first event of the 2018 Open Qualifying Series. The leading three players who finish in the top 10 and who are not otherwise exempt will receive invites into next summer’s Open Championship at Carnoustie.

Ogilvy urges distance rollback of ball

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 8:49 pm

Add Geoff Ogilvy to the chorus of voices calling for a distance rollback of the golf ball.

In an interview before the start of the Emirates Australian Open, Ogilvy said a "time-out" is needed for governing bodies to deal with the issue.

"It's complete nonsense," he said, according to an Australian website. "In my career, it’s gone from 300 yards was a massive hit to you’re a shorter hitter on tour now, legitimately short. It’s changed the way we play great golf courses and that is the crime. It isn’t that the ball goes 400, that’s neither here nor there. It’s the fact the ball going 400 doesn’t makes Augusta work properly, it functions completely wrong.’’


Full-field scores from the Emirates Australian Open


Ogilvy used an example from American baseball to help get his point across to an Australian audience.

“Major League Baseball in America, they use wooden bats, and everywhere else in baseball they use aluminium bats,’’ he said. “And when the major leaguers use aluminium bats they don’t even have to touch it and it completely destroys their stadiums. It’s just comedy.

“That’s kind of what’s happened to us at least with the drivers of these big hitters; We’ve completely outgrown the stadiums. So do you rebuild every stadium in the world? That’s expensive. Or make the ball go shorter? It seems relatively simple from that perspective.’’

Ogilvy, an Australian who won the 2006 U.S. Open, said he believes there will be a rollback, but admitted it would be a "challenge" for manufacturers to produce a ball that flies shorter for pros but does not lose distance when struck by recreational players.

The golf world celebrates Thanksgiving

By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 23, 2017, 6:01 pm

Here's a look, through social media, at how the golf world celebrates Thanksgiving.

Lexi Thompson:

Baking time!!

A post shared by Lexi Thompson (@lexi) on

David Feherty:

Jack Nicklaus:

GC Tiger Tracker:

Steve Stricker:

Golf Channel:

Frank Nobilo:

Ian Poulter:

Tyrone Van Aswegen:

Happy Thanksgiving: Biggest turkeys of 2017

By Grill Room TeamNovember 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

Thanksgiving brings us golf's biggest turkeys of the year. Donald Trump, Grayson Murray and a certain (now-former) tournament director headline the list. Click here or on the image below to check out all the turkeys.