The 2012 Masters: modern businesswoman meets old boys’ club, literally

Apr 5, 2012


Gordon Sherry of Scotland plays his second shoot on the 2nd fairway during the second round of the 1996 Masters at the Augusta national Golf Club, Georgia. Credit: David Cannon/Getty Images

The Augusta National Golf Club in Atlanta is still, contentiously, a male bastion. And IBM is one of the companies lined up to sponsor the 2012 Masters Tournament, which begins tomorrow.

IBM’s previous four CEOs have been members, and they have all been men. Now the new president and CEO of one of the tournament’s biggest sponsors is not allowed to join the club, because she is a woman, Virginia Rommety.

For years, critics have condemned the private club for excluding women and now, Rommety’s de facto exclusion is raising the matter again, right before the club’s biggest event. Former Augusta National Golf Club chairman Hootie Johnson argues that private organizations such as women’s colleges and The Girl Scouts of America should be permitted to remain gender-exclusive, but does the Augusta Club have a social responsibility to include female members?


Do elite organizations serve as role models for the rest of society, and thus should they admit women, as clubs once grappled with admitting minorities? Should sponsors and golfers boycott the tournament until the club extends membership to women?


Michael Hiltzik, business columnist, Los Angeles Times

Martha Burk , director, Corporate Accountability project, National Council of Women’s Organizations; author “Your Voice, Your Vote, the savvy’s women’s guide to power politics and the change we need”

Ron Sirak, executive editor, Golf World; senior writer, Golf Digest

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