NEW YORK (AP) — For the first time in its 80-year history, Augusta National Golf Club has female members.
The home of the Masters, under increasing criticism the last decade because of its all-male membership, invited former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore to become the first women in green jackets when the club opens for a new season in October.
Augusta National, which opened in December 1932 and did not have a black member until 1990, is believed to have about 300 members.
The move to extend membership to Moore and Rice likely ends a debate that intensified in 2002 when Martha Burk of the National Council of Women's Organizations urged the club to include women among its members. Former club chairman Hootie Johnson stood his ground, even at the cost of losing Masters television sponsors for two years, when he famously said Augusta National might one day have a woman in a green jacket, “but not at the point of a bayonet”
The comment took on a life of its own, becoming either a slogan of the club's resolve not to give in to public pressure or a sign of its sexism, depending on which side of the debate was interpreting it.
Tiger Wood, who knows Rice through a mutual connection to Stanford, applauded the move.
“I think the decision by the Augusta National membership is important to golf,” Woods said. “The club continues to demonstrate its commitment to impacting the game in positive ways. I would like to congratulate both new members, especially my friend Condi Rice.”
A person with knowledge of club operations said Rice and Moore first were considered as members five years ago.
Photo: Condoleezza Rice