Exclusivity, Lady Members, & Invitations; Home of The Masters Prestige Continues
I have experienced the drive down Magnolia Lane, eaten the dollar fifty pimento and cheese sandwiches and felt the legacy of Cliff Roberts and Bobby Jones firsthand. I have spent opening day on the ropes at the first tee and watched the best golfers in the world play, in my opinion, the best game in the world at the most magical golf course in the world. This experience is not at all diminished by the fact that I will never be a member of Augusta National.
Virginia M. Romnetty was named the new chief executive officer of International Business Machines Corp. in October. As IBM is a major sponsor of the Masters, normally an invitation to become a member of August National would follow. The debate about women members at Augusta has gone as far as the White House with both President Barak Obama and Republican party leader hopeful Mitt Romney weighing in – both are for women members – neither is currently a member at Augusta.
But isn’t this really a question of freedom of choice? We live in a society, thank goodness, that allows us the freedom to choose our leaders based on their political policies and to join or not join private clubs based on what we know about the club’s policies and the members of private clubs have the freedom to choose those policies.
I am a golfer, I am a business leader and like many business leaders I conduct business on the golf course. I am also a woman. I am not offended that I will never be invited to join Augusta National. The lack of an invitation has less to do with my gender than the fact that I do not move in the rarefied circles of those who are members. I will also likely never play golf at Augusta National. Women can play if invited by a member. But unless a member reads this and extends an invitation (please, please, please!), again, I do not move in those circles.
I love Groucho Marx’s quote: “ I would not join any club that would have someone like me for a member.” I kind of feel this way about Augusta National. Not because I am a woman but because part of the magic and mystique of Augusta National has to do with the Cliff Robert’s vision of creating the most prestigious and exclusive golf course along with the most unique and prestigious invitational golf tournament.
Maybe the debate has reached the level it has because of the 30 or so million golfers in North America, only a few thousand will ever play Augusta National and only a few hundred will ever be invited to become members, regardless of their gender.
Your Chief Executive Belle, Susanita