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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    Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

    By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

    Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

    The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

    Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

    The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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    Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

    By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

    It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

    Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

    The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

    The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

    For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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    Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

    By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

    After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

    But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

    Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

    Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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    Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

    By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

    Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

    The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

    “There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


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    In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

    “To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

    Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

    “To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.