Augusta National defends its membership polcies
July 10, 2002 10:09 AM   Subscribe

Augusta National defends its membership polcies in the face of opposition from the National Council of Women's Organizations. Augusta is the annual host of the Masters and does not count any women among its 300 members. Does the NCWO have any business telling a private organization how it should structure its membership?
posted by dayvin (22 comments total)
Of course nobody can tell a private organization how to structure its membership. But the NCWO can argue for a change, advocate for a change, spread the word that there should be a change, etc. Augusta National is, of course, not bound by anything the NCWO says. But they may be wise to change their policies for their own good, just like they did for blacks.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:18 AM on July 10, 2002

For me at least, this brings back memories over the court entanglement of the Boy Scouts. Whether one agrees with the private organization or not, a group such as the NCWO has no place to tell Augusta National what to do, in their application acceptance policies or otherwise. By the way, the article said that The Masters was run by Augusta National seperate of any other PGA event, so I fail to see what good the NCWO talking to the PGA about moving the event to another location would do. If I am incorrect in this pleace correct me, but it seems that A.N. has control over this tournament, no matter who dislikes it.
posted by iceman at 10:27 AM on July 10, 2002

Sure, iceman, AN has control. As long as they can get the funding to run it, they can make decisions. And if the finders can be convinced otherwise, by NCWO, or anyone else, I guess AN may have to figure out what they want to do to correct that.
posted by Red58 at 10:32 AM on July 10, 2002

"Does the NCWO have any business telling a private organization how it should structure its membership?"

No, they should stick to performing musical pieces and shut up about golf.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:36 AM on July 10, 2002

Here's an article from Augusta's own Chronicle that says, well, basically the same thing.

As for the makeup of the National, well, I may not agree with their decisions, but I think they're completely within their rights, as the NCWO (perhaps somewhat grudgingly) acknowledges. And I don't really find it all that surprising, considering that, at least in my mind, the Augusta National is composed of crusty old white guys (and a handful of "minorities", who admittedly probably don't share this opinion) who still believe that a woman's place is in the home and all those minorities need to be sent back to Minorityland. (Whether this is true or not, I don't know, but while it's a blatant simplification, I suspect it's probably not too far off the mark.) So I doubt any of them play golf with any women. Or at least, if they do (which I view as unlikely at best), they don't feel they belong in the Augusta National.

Living in a town 20 or so miles away from Augusta, I'm kind of secretly hoping that the Masters will get moved elsewhere, although I realize that realistically, that's probably not bloody likely. But it sure would be nice to get a reprieve from the constant media saturation every year during the Masters.
posted by zztzed at 10:37 AM on July 10, 2002

a group such as the NCWO has no place to tell Augusta National what to do

Seems to me that the NCWO can tell Augusta National whatever the hell the NCWO wants to tell Augusta National. Augusta, of course, is under no obligation to comply (or even, for that matter, pay attention, though it seems they have).
posted by mr_roboto at 10:37 AM on July 10, 2002

mind you, I'm as against discrimination as the next college student, but nobody can deny the fact that women and men are different and sometimes men just wanna hang out with men and vice versa! it's not about subjugation at all.
posted by mcsweetie at 11:50 AM on July 10, 2002

Just as long as no one is trying to break open Augusta National by court action, I'm perfectly comfortable with this. Using the moral bully pulpit vis-a-vis sponsors is a fine way to try to modify private organizations' conduct with which one disagrees.

However, stating that there's nothing inherent in the Master's requiring it to be held at Augusta National, as the President of the NCWO does at the end of the piece, just goes to show how little the NCWO appreciates what is so popular about the Masters -- and, hence, how little regard sponsors should pay them in terms of contemplating the audience they seek to reach in sponsoring the event.

Augusta National is the essence of the event, and the beauty of the course and the tradition of the place are a big part of why the Master's attracts a demographically fabulous television and live audience.
posted by MattD at 12:15 PM on July 10, 2002

I have absolutely no sympathy for these clubs. They are typically bastions of racism, sexism, anti-semitism, and other forms of prejudice. sure, they have the legal right to be sexist jerks. the NCWO also has every right to bring this fact to the attention of the public. if its no big deal, as mcsweetie suggests, the public is not going to pay attention and they have nothing to worry about. if it is a big deal and it results in the tornoment being moved, well, that's the free market for you.

i was mostly struck by how pissed off the AN guy was over a simple letter. What a jerk.
posted by boltman at 12:34 PM on July 10, 2002

Isn't it possible to be all for equal rights AND just want to hang with the guys sometimes?
posted by jbelshaw at 12:39 PM on July 10, 2002

boltman, the NCWO letter included a more than one thinly-veiled threat (e.g., "we urge you to review your policies and practices in this regard, and open your membership to women now, so that this is not an issue when the tournament is staged next year.") so Augusta National's response is intended to be a one-time-only attempt to justify their position. As the statement reads, "We do not intend to be further distracted by this matter. We will not make additional comments or respond to the taunts and gripes artificially generated by a corporate campaign."

Also, I wouldn't go so far as to label Hootie Johnson a jerk, despite his ridiculous nickname. Martha Burk is just as much of a jerk for not doing her homework before firing off her inflammatory letter.
posted by dayvin at 1:02 PM on July 10, 2002

I disagree Dayvin, and as a stockholder in Coke, IBM and Citigroup, I'm going to contact the investor relations departments of those companies and suggest that they not sponsor the Masters at that club either. Primarily because of they way Mr. Johnson responded. Comments like this were hardly justified: "There may well come a day when women will be invited to join our membership but that timetable will be ours and not at the point of a bayonet."

I seem to remember the same arguments being held forth to keep African American and Jewish members out of country clubs. I'll go back to the boardrooms, and suggest that a club that discriminates against half the population is not a club that deserves money from American corporations.

I agree that there should be men's clubs, like unto the British club system. I've never had a problem with guys being guys somewhere that I don't have to clean up after them. :) But not on my dime...and as a stockholder in the primary sponsors of this discriminatory event, it *is* my dime.
posted by dejah420 at 1:51 PM on July 10, 2002

Is someone going to start arguing now how the whole thing is discriminatory because women aren't allowed to compete in The Masters?
posted by jbelshaw at 2:09 PM on July 10, 2002

What a total asshole. Is there anything in his letter that couldn't have been said about anti-black or Jewish restrictions? Not that there isn't a difference, but he's not even going to address the question that any one with half a brain would ask (no matter what side of the issue they are on): How is this different from that other well-known bad thing that they did?

I won't watch the show, and I'm going to pass it on to my few friends. What an unmitigated fool. Really, his whole aggrieved act amounts to suggesting that other people owe them the money that they get from the Masters. He needs to answer the clue phone.
posted by Wood at 2:12 PM on July 10, 2002

"First one wants freedom, then the whole damn world wants freedom" (Gil Scott-Heron). The "timetable" thing just chaps my hide. Don't let Italians in first, then Jews 15 years later, then blacks 20 years later, then women in 2010. For the love of God, people won't quit fighting to be wrong.
posted by Wood at 2:19 PM on July 10, 2002

You better believe that if the PGA seriously threatened to pull out of Augusta for the Masters, the pigs would reconsider their membership quotas.

Of course they can decide who they want to golf with, but that doesn't mean that we have to accept it. Sexism is okay, but anti-semitism and racism isn't anymore? It's time to treat everyone as equals.

Mcsweenie, you trivialize something that is very important to a lot of people. Imagine if you said, "nobody can deny the fact that blacks and whites are different and sometimes whites just wanna hang out with whites and vice versa! it's not about subjugation at all." You would be hounded to high heaven and most of civil society would disagree with you. But because it's women, it's okay.

It's just wrong.
posted by aacheson at 3:43 PM on July 10, 2002

Is someone going to start arguing now how the whole thing is discriminatory because women aren't allowed to compete in The Masters?

Good point - what about if I want to compete in any one of the major female tournaments? Even if I was to become a female through a sex change, I would still be considered a male by the LPGA and would not be allowed. Sex discrimination works both ways.

Yes, I am well aware that females are discriminated against far more than males, but that doesn't make either of them right and males are discriminated against far more than most people realise, but men usually don't care to do the things that they are not welcome to participate in. If the members of the club want to structure their membership in this particular way, why would you want to belong in any case?
posted by dg at 6:15 PM on July 10, 2002

Great point, dg. The NWCO has just about as much right to demand that Augusta National admit female members as Augusta National has to demand the NWCO admit the first male member to its all-female Steering Committee.
posted by dayvin at 7:32 PM on July 10, 2002

having worked for the augusta national during two tournaments, the response they gave to the NCWO doesn't come as a surprise at all. my bosses were elderly gentlemen who were pretty much your typical 40's generation georgia males. and pretty much just about everybody else with status or position there was on par (no pun intended) with them. if they hadn't had their whiskey or whatnot every couple of hours, the became what i think were some of the most stubborn, sexist, and in some cases racist people i've ever known. some of the things they said about my female coworkers (mind you, these were high school juniors and seniors) and statements made (and the amount of nervous cigar-smoking taking place) while tiger was doing well were quite eye-opening to say the least.

disclaimer: now i'm not trying to besmirch the augusta national or its members and organizers, but this aptly categorizes the three or four gentlemen that i had the distinct pleasure of reporting to many times a day. < /my 2ยข>
posted by sixtwenty3dc at 7:34 PM on July 10, 2002

Women(or is it "womyn" now..) want to be treated as equals, yet they do not want to rilinquish some of the things they enjoy from being women(womyn). I can cut the hypocrisy in the air with a knife. Everyone wants to be politically correct these days, or want to influence others to do so. It has been a men's club for a long time, let them be that way. Sheesh. Who comes up with the next people to pick on?
posted by spidre at 11:43 PM on July 10, 2002

what is the british open and who are british feminists. Muirfield is in scotland (I think) therefore this is clearly an issue for scottish feminists, first and foremost. It is highly annoying the way the whole of the united kindom if not the rest of Europe is viewed as being completely homogenous, this is well wide of the mark. So please scottish, welsh and english never british.
posted by johnnyboy at 2:47 AM on July 11, 2002

Spidre, by using your backwards logic, back in the 60's, the south had been segregated for a long time, so let them be that way. Sheesh. I guess the Civil Rights movement was a big waste of time. How about Apartied in South Africa? It's been that way for years, too...should we have left that that way? How about the right for women to vote in America? That was not allowed for a long time, sheesh, those uppity women wanting to vote! Just let the good old ways stay.

I know it's hard for white men to understand these things, but they really exist and are hard to deal with.

BTW-you might want to give some specifics of the stuff "womyn" don't want to relinquish yet want to be equal. Nice biiiiiig blanket statement.
posted by aacheson at 9:47 AM on July 11, 2002

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