After 80 years, Augusta National Golf Club has invited women to become members for the first time. The two female invitees are former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Darla Moore, a highly successful financier. Both women accepted their invitations.
Until today, Augusta was one of the few remaining private country clubs that refused to admit women. Back in April, the club made headlines when they did not invite IBM CEO Virginia Rometty to become a member during the Masters, even though IBM sponsored the event.
Women's groups have been putting pressure on the club to include women since at least as early as 2002, when Martha Burk of the National Council of Women's Organizations urged the club to introduce female members. Today, Burk said "Oh my God. We won. It's about 10 years too late for the boys to come into the 20th century, never mind the 21st century. But it's a milestone for women in business".
Although today's announcement represents the first time women will be allowed in as members, Augusta has allowed women to play the course as guests in the past.
Since clubs like Augusta are considered "private social organizations", they are legally allowed to decide who they admit as members as they see fit. Augusta itself did not allow any black members until 1990, and the Professional Golfers' Assocation (PGA) of America didn't get rid of a "Caucasian only" clause in its bylaws until 1961. Some Canadian clubs, it seems, were no better: according to the Jewish Independent, before the 1950s, "unless they had some unique connections, Jews were not allowed to become members at golf and country clubs in Greater Vancouver".
For a slightly tongue-in-cheek look at some of the shameful moments in golf's (sometimes recent) past, Complex has a breakdown of "the most racist moments in golf history" - click the image below to check it out.
And when Ken Finkleman was in the red chair this season, he spoke to George about the country club near his childhood home refusing to allow his mother to play because she was Jewish:
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