A Place Where Many (But Not All Thankfully) Conservatives Will Fit Right In
The most prestigious golf tournament in the world (maybe the most prestigious single sporting event in the world) is being played this week at the August National Golf Club. This is a private club and the tournament is a private affair, by invitation or qualification only. They have the right of course to set their own membership rules and requirements as any private club can.
But because The Masters is such a public event, and because it gets millions of dollars from commercial sponsors its practices can and should come under public scrutiny. In the long ago past the tournament did everything it could to prevent African American players from competing, but that type of discrimination finally ended. Now the one remaining area in which the club discriminates is against women. The club will not admit women as members.
The issue came up several years ago, and for a while the club agreed to forego sponsors so that companies that supported the tournament and indirectly supported the policy of discrimination would not be targeted. That pressure relaxed, as the populace had better things to worry about than whether or not a pompous, bigoted group of very rich, arrogant men were preventing women from joining their club.
But the issue has now resurfaced again. The policy of the club is to invite and accept as members the CEO’s of the companies that sponsor the tournament. This has placed the club’s bigotry and prejudice back in the news.
The matter is back in the spotlight with the Masters set to begin Thursday. In January, IBM named Virginia ("Ginni") Rometty as its new president and CEO. IBM is a Masters sponsor. The past four CEOs of IBM have been members of Augusta National.
The club was quizzed about its policies and the answer is that what the club does with respect to membership is not anyone else’s business.
|Bily Payne - Chairman of Augusta |
National Golf Club
Funny - He Doesn't Look Like
To her credit, one reporter pressed the issue, making it personal for Mr. Payne who is the head of the club.
But the questions kept coming, including one from Karen Crouse of the New York Times.
She asked him, as a grandfather, what he would say to his granddaughters about the club having no women members.
"Once again, though expressed quite artfully, I think that's a question that deals with membership," Payne said.
Crouse said it was a "kitchen table, personal" question.
"Well my conversations with my granddaughters are also personal," Payne said in a news conference room packed with media and club members in green jackets.
It is not difficult to imagine what that conversation between Mr. Payne and his granddaughters would be like, he would of course try to educate them about why as women they are second class citizens, and not to be accorded the same rights as the greatly superior gender, men. And for anyone who thinks that would be a difficult conversation for Mr. Payne to have, do not worry. People who hold bigoted and hateful views of women (or anyone else) have no difficulty in justifying their position.
And no, no one should condemn the golfers for playing in this tournament. Professional golf is their job, fighting bigotry and discrimination, well, that’s the job for the rest of us.