For nearly 80 years, the famous Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia was for men only. A private club, which hosts The Masters golf tournament every spring, annotated themselves a “Men Only” club and fought for that right year and year and through multiple protests. But this past August, the club finally put their guard down and admitted Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as their first two female members. The locker rooms will never be the same again, but Augusta National finally did the right thing.
So just how exclusive of a club is Augusta National? Currently the course only has about 300 members and the only way you can become a member is by invitation. There’s no application process and typically those chosen are of the hierarchy in our society. Some current members include Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and T. Boone Pickens Jr. The cost associated with becoming a member is substantive. The initial membership is between $10,000 and $30,000 with annual dues of roughly $10,000. And once you get membership, you then abide by Augusta’s rules, including when you can play. Typically the course is only open 5-6 months out of the year for the members to enjoy.
So just what have Rice and Moore broken down? They have broken through a barrier that for many years thought to be invincible. Most of the upheaval started in 2002 when Martha Burke, then the chair of the Washington-based National Council of Women’s Organizations, wrote a stinging letter to then Augusta Chairman Hootie Johnson, challenging his male-only policy and demanding females be admitted. Johnson shot back in defense of his clubs policy and the debate and protests began.
For a club that only as recently as 1990 admitted their first black member, admitting a women is a realization of the society we live in. Equality on all levels is necessary for the betterment of our union. Now that these two women have succeeded in gaining membership to Augusta National, now they face the daunting task of navigating 18 holes of the toughest golf they’ll ever face. A small price to pay for something so important.