All-Female Organizations Demand Reform of All-Male Club
November 17, 2002
by Mary Mostert, Analyst - Banner of Liberty
In case you have missed it, the National Council of Women’s Organizations, which its website says is composed of “more than one hundred women’s organizations representing more than 6 million members,” is trying to force the Augusta National Golf Club, sponsor of the Masters Golf Tournament, to “change its all-men’s membership.”
In July of this year Martha Burk (http://www.womensorganizations.org/news/voices_2000prog_opening.htm), Chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations sent letters to the CEOs of major corporations, including IBM, Coca Cola, General Motors and Citigroup, claiming to “collectively represent over seven million women nationwide” urging them to “suspend sponsorship of the Masters Golf Tournament in 2003 if the Augusta National Golf Club continues to discriminate against women by excluding them from membership.”
In support of the effort, the National Organization for Women (NOW) has “called on feminists across the U.S. to contact Augusta members who head major corporations and ask them why they belong to a club that excludes half their customer base.”
Although women play approximately 1,000 rounds of golf each year at Augusta National, it has not accepted a female member in its 69-year history. “Hootie” Johnson (http://www.augustachronicle.com/stories/111202/gol_hootie.shtml), chairman of Augusta National Golf Club said, “Single-gender organizations are good. And they’re not discriminatory. If they are, this country is in a hell of a fix with the Boy Scouts, and the Girl Scouts, and the Junior League, and college fraternities and college sororities.” The club has no intention of adding a female member in the near future and The Masters will be played as scheduled in April 2003. Johnson added, "There will always be a Masters.”
Now, let’s see. The National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO) states it is “a freestanding women’s organization with its own board of directors and leaders representing a national constituency and perspective.” Its purpose “includes (http://www.womensorganizations.org/about/policy.htm) promoting public policy and legislative strategies affecting women” and its goals, adopted in 1998, include opposition to the privatization of Social Security, stopping “restrictions to abortion”, supporting affirmative action in public education, employment and contracting, ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, and the United Nations Convention for the Elimination for All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
The word golf is not mentioned anywhere on the NCWO website.
The Augusta National Golf Club, on the other hand, is a private club, organized in 1931 for the purpose of creating the world’s best-designed golf course. It was the dream of Bob Jones (http://www.masters.org/history/jones.html), who had retired after he won the British Amateur on the Old Course at St. Andrews, the British Open at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England, the U.S. Open at Interlachen Country Club in Minneapolis and the U.S. Amateur at Merion to capture golf’s Grand Slam in 1930. Bob Jones went on to write 4 books on golf, to design golf clubs, after getting degrees in both mechanical engineering and law, help design the world’s greatest golf course at Augusta, to found the Masters Golf Tournament and witness its success.
Golf great Jack Nicklaus said of him, “The essence of Bob Jones might well have been that he embodied the spirit of golf more than anyone who ever played the game.” To this day the Augusta National Golf Club is an all-male organization composed of men who, in the words of golf historian Herbert Warren, “still stand under the great trees at Augusta National Golf Club on fine spring days” and tell Bob Jones’ stories. “We still see him in the soft edges and hard demands of the golf course he conceived, a course that is among the most beautiful and fascinating. We still appreciate the spirit that pervades the Masters, a spirit with which he endowed it. We still measure our players by what he did and how he did it. These are his gifts and these are his monuments.”
I see absolutely nothing on the Augusta National Golf Club Masters website that would indicate that it, or ANY of its male members could possibly EVER be allowed to or want to join The National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO). In the first place, just as all the members of the Augusta Board of Directors are men, all the members of the National Council of Women’s Organizations board are, of course, women.
I see absolutely nothing on the National Council of Women’s Organizations website that would indicate any of its members have a clue as to what in the world the Augusta National Golf Club members are talking about when they speak of the “spirit that pervades the Masters” left by Bob Jones.
I think, frankly, that the National Council of Women’s organizations and all its 166 member groups are far more discriminatory against men than the Augusta National Golf Club is against women. While over 1000 women played on the Augusta course last year, I do not see that one, much less 1000, men were allowed into NCWO organization meetings. How can women seriously demand gender equality from the all-male Augusta National Golf Club when they themselves have exclusive all-female boards and memberships?
Of course, if the NCWO would changed THEIR membership rules, goals, by-laws and policies from exclusively selfish female goals, to “promoting public policy and legislative strategies” affecting all people, including males, then they might have the moral ground to talk to the Augusta National Golf Club Chairman, Hootie Johnson about how well their goals are met by involving men in all that they do.
Since that is not apt to occur anytime in the foreseeable future, I believe Augusta National Golf Club Chairman Hootie Johnson is on firm ground in saying it may be several years before a woman is invited to join the now all-male club.
To comment: firstname.lastname@example.org
http://www.womensorganizations.org/news/voices_2000prog_opening.htm - National Council of Women’s Organizations – New faces
http://www.womensorganizations.org/about/policy.htm - National Council of Women’s Organizations policies
http://www.masters.org/history/jones.html - Official Site of Masters Tournament – Bob Jones