Augusta National isn’t America’s oldest golf course, but it is by far the most well known. The club was founded in the midst of the Depression by retiring amateur golfer Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts, a Wall Street investor. The course was designed by Dr. Alister Mackenzie with Jones’ input. The club opened in 1933 and the first Masters was held in 1934. It is the only major tournament played on the same course each year.
For those who aren’t aware, Augusta National Golf Club and IBM have a particularly close relationship, and the past four IBM CEO’s have been offered membership to the exclusive club. Now, it seems the whole nation is up in arms as to whether or not IBM’s female CEO will be offered a membership to the club (Augusta does not admit female members). Even the president is on record in opposition to Augusta’s male-only policy. To be fair, Romney, Santorum, and Gingrich have expressed similar opinions. No word on Ron Paul’s view. That said, they should all butt out, because it’s none of their business.
Augusta is a private club. Its members, and its members alone, will decide when, and if, to admit a female member. And that’s the way it should be. Further, IBM isn’t likely to pull their sponsorship because they need Augusta more than Augusta needs IBM.
In fact, the last time we had this debate and women’s organizations threatened to boycott sponsors, golf fans got to watch commercial-free as Augusta’s members, in the words of then-chairman Hootie Johnson, absorbed the advertising fees that would have been paid by IBM, Coca-Cola, and Citigroup. The feminists never really recovered from that. And now, given their boycott efforts were a total flop, these same women’s organizations want IBM to give up some of the most valuable ad space on TV because their CEO might not be offered a golf membership? You’re joking, right? Any day now, we’ll be hearing about a million man march for equal access to Curves®.