It is entirely possible that Augusta National’s decision to invite female members started well over a decade ago. He does not believe that recent events had anything to do with Monday’s announcement. He believes that when Martha Burk protested the absence of a female member, it pushed back the decision by about a decade. The Augusta National Golf Club does not make any decision lightly and every decision involving the invitation of members takes not months but years to finalize and the process for Rice & Moore was no different.
He is not at all surprised that Billy Payne was the Chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club when the first two female members were admitted because he has had a long history of being a forward thinker well before his leadership of the Olympics in 1996. It is entirely possible that now that this announcement has been made, Payne may look to transition away from the role of Chairman and have someone else take over the role. Payne has an incredible legacy during his time as Augusta National chairman including the creation of the Masters Tournament Foundation, the Asian Amateur Championship, the Junior Pass Program, and now, the invitation of the first two female members.
Both Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore are not only successful in many ways, but they are also golfers. Virginia Rometty, who is the CEO of IBM, was mentioned as a candidate for membership earlier this year but she is not a golfer. Darla Moore, in fact, was mentioned back in 2002 as a possible candidate to become the first female member along with now former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. It is very important to the Augusta National Golf Club that their members are golfers and that is certainly true with both Rice and Moore.
When asked if this news will impact the policies of other all-male clubs, Rosaforte said that like the Augusta National, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club likes to act on its own schedule and it does not like to be forced into doing anything although both also like to be progressive on certain issues. He doubts that the actions of Augusta National will have any impact on any decision that the R&A makes in relation to membership.
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