“Co-leader Couples turns back clock at Augusta” read Saturday’s Boston Globe
sports section sub-headline, hailing the return to prominence of Fred Couples in the Masters golf tournament. If he wins, the good looking fellow could become the oldest ever to do it, at the “old” age of 52. Hey, I’m all for that. But never mind turning back the clock. What strikes me is the way in which the Augusta National Golf Club, which plays host to the Masters, isn’t really about turning back the clock. In one major respect, it has never moved the clock ahead.
Welcome to the 19th century. The Augusta National Golf Club does not admit women members. Not even if you’re the CEO of the company that is a principal corporate sponsor of the tournament. Virginia Rometty is CEO of IBM, its first female CEO. She plays golf, but, according to the Wall St. Journal
, she prefers scuba diving. Certainly she is in a more hospitable environment 60 feet under water. A spokesman for Augusta National, is within his rights saying that club membership is a private matter. But it remains a PR disaster for the club, and, if IBM is smart, it will reconsider its corporate sponsorship as a matter of principle.
The club has offered membership to the last four IBM CEO’s, all possessing a Y chromosome. Imagine Ms. Rometty, a major corporate sponsor of the event and attending the tournament to entertain clients there but feeling like a second class citizen because the club doesn’t consider her good enough to be a member. Mitt Romney, when questioned, said Augusta National should admit women. Yes, yes, he may have said it because he’s so far behind President Obama in the women’s vote. But at least he knew what the right answer was.
Fewer than one percent of golf clubs still exclude women, according to The Daily Beast.
Pepsi, Xerox and HP also have women CEO’s. There will be more as the 21st century evolves. Augusta National may deny this evolution, but its retrograde policy isn’t just a silly relic. It’s discrimination plain and simple. It’s stupid, and it’s offensive, and it should end.
I’d greatly appreciate your thoughts in the comments section below.