Monday, August 20, 2012


I've been trying to process this whole Augusta National admitting women thing today.

For those not in the know, Augusta National is likely the richest, most exclusive golf club in the world. They sponsor the Masters, definitely the most exclusive tournament in the world. You have to be super rich and at the pinnacle of your profession to be admitted.

A few years back there was some hubbub about their men-only policy and people were lobbying sponsors to pull out of the TV broadcast for The Masters. Augusta National just decided to air their tournament without commercials and paid CBS whatever they were planning to make from ads. They did this for three years!

These old dudes do not like to be told what to do.

I'm all for the membership deciding what to do with their own club - and the two women they let in are exactly the kind of people who become members, well, except for their gender.

I sure hope the members of Augusta National didn't cave to public pressure.

Deep down it seems alright that there are exclusive clubs based on gender. I had a whole post written earlier today defending the idea. Why shouldn't men and women be able to get away from each other with people they enjoy hanging out with?

Then I thought, should there be white only golf clubs? There certainly were for a while. That ended not because of legal pressure - private clubs can still discriminate all they want - but because people stopped wanting to be a part of a club that excluded a large segment of the population out of hand.

Perhaps that was the thought process of Augusta National. Maybe those rich old dudes got together and said, "why are we keeping women out," and the answer was likely a lot of generalizations about women being weepy or complaining about the cigar smoke or wanting to decorate the dining room in pink paisley. In the end they admitted two women who don't fit any of those descriptions.

Condolezza Rice once said she'd resign as Secretary of State if they asked her to be commissioner of the NFL.

In the end I don't know how to feel. I don't think a club should be pressured to diversify its membership, but at the same time I recognize the real, formational value of diversity. I can see the appeal of a place where you can feel at home with everyone, but I also recognize that any sizable group of people, no matter how exclusive, can't provide that luxury.

Perhaps this is just another example of reaching for something that doesn't exist. These old, rich men have succeeded at everything they've ever tried. When it came to building a club full of people they genuinely liked and could stand to be around, it was just a bridge too far.

I give them credit for figuring that out, even if it took 80 years. Maybe there is a little bit of wisdom that comes from age and success.

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