It has taken them 80 years but Augusta National, home of the Masters, now has its first female members.
Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, and South Carolina financier Darla Moore will become the first women to wear the club’s famous green jackets when the new season begins in October.
“This is a joyous occasion,” said Augusta National chairman Billy Payne.
The long debate over Augusta’s membership policy intensified in 2002 when Martha Burk, of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, urged the club to include women among its members.
Former club chairman Hootie Johnson stood his ground, even at the cost of losing Masters television sponsors for two years, when he famously said Augusta National might one day have a woman in a green jacket, “but not at the point of a bayonet.”
“Oh my God. We won,” Burk said.
“It’s about 10 years too late for the boys to come into the 20th century, never mind the 21st century. But it’s a milestone for women in business.”
“It’s about 10 years too late for the boys to come into the 20th century, never mind the 21st century. But it’s a milestone for women in business.” Payne, who took over as chairman in 2006 when Johnson retired, said consideration for new members is deliberate and private, and that Rice and Moore were not treated differently from other new members.
Even so, he took the rare step of announcing two of the latest members to join because of the historical significance.
“These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership,” Payne said in a statement.
“It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their green jackets when the club opens this fall.
“This is a significant and positive time in our club’s history and, on behalf of our membership, I wanted to take this opportunity to welcome them and all of our new members into the Augusta National family.”
Augusta National, which opened in December 1932 and did not have a black member until 1990, is believed to have about 300 members.
While the club until now had no female members, women were allowed to play as guests, including on the Sunday before the Masters week began in April.