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Women At The Masters
By Anne Marie Goslak

The snow is melting, the Magnolias are budding, and the sound of the Masters Golf Championship is in the air.  “What do you think of the Master’s Controversy?”

To fill you in on the drama, Augusta National Golf Club has been the site of one of the biggest golf championships in the world, the Masters, for 65 years.  Augusta National Chairman, Hootie Johnson, has been being pressured by Martha Burk and the National Council of Women’s Organizations to grant membership to women at the exclusively all male golf club. When Johnson refused to allow women membership on the grounds that a private club was entitled to create it’s own environment, free of certain individuals, Burk, threatened to organize a boycott of all sponsors, as well as on site protesting. 

This threat pushed Johnson into a never seen before action. Before the sponsors had a chance to pull out of the event, Augusta said, “No thanks.” Johnson dropped TV endorsements, making the 2003 Masters the first commercial free sporting event on network television.

At first glance, as a woman, it would seem I would rise up and join my sisters in protest against discrimination. There is a part of me that would like to do that.  Discrimination of any kind is never justified. I admire Thomas Wyman, retired executive for CBS, who was the first man to drop his membership at Augusta over this issue. I applaud Coke, a major sponsor of the Masters, who said that although 2003 could be a transitional year, the policy of excluding women should change by 2004 if Coke was to continue it’s involvement with the tournament. I think the PGA is being hypocritical with their decision to have the event in Augusta. In 1990, the tour stopped playing its events at other male only clubs.  Both Cypress Point and Butler National were removed from the tour schedule.

Why not remove Augusta?  Ask any man and he will reply with a laugh, “Come on!  It’s the Masters. You can’t mess with tradition!”  Therein lies the problem.  What kind of tradition are they upholding down in Georgia?  The “good old boy” mentality is alive and well. We, as women, have seen it, and lived it for years.

On the flip side, however, I agree with Tiger Woods who was quoted as saying, “In democratic societies, private clubs have the right to determine for themselves who should be eligible for membership.” After all, when I chose to join Women’s Wellness & Fitness Center so I could work out in peace, with out the interruptions, stares, and cat-calls of men, was I discriminating against men or just choosing my environment?  When I go to an all women’s Bible study, is it a sign that I de-value men as spiritual beings?

It all comes down to this, should women be allowed membership to Augusta National?  Yes.  Should anyone force a private club to let women in?  No.  Should women, as a group, protest the Masters?  I say no.  If I were going to stand up, and lend my voice to a cause, it would be limit violence on TV, or to do more to stop domestic abuse.  One in four women is a victim of domestic abuse. I don’t believe one in 1,000 women even wants to belong to Augusta National, given the price of admission.

I am all for women standing up for their rights.  I just believe there are better fights for the good of more women.

Anne Marie Goslak is the teaching professional at Oak Valley Golf Club. She is currently the only woman playing against the men on the Tar Heel Tour.

-Anne Marie Goslak