Through all the protests led by Martha Burk to get women into the membership at Augusta National, I’ve maintained that the inclusion of powerful females should be well down the list of priorities for somebody who fancies herself as such an important women’s rights advocate.
For that reason, it’s difficult to imagine Condoleezza Rice or Darla Moore as role models for young girls because they finally did make it into the Augusta membership, which is the ridiculous conclusion of Christine Brennan of USA Today here.
How many 10-year-old girls do you know who will be glued to the TV for the upcoming Masters and therefore hearing anything about Rice or Moore?
That opinion might leave the impression that it’s based in the belief that Augusta should have remained an all-male institution, which is an illogical reaction to a thought that doesn’t go along with the popular line of thinking.
Simply because somebody feels pay equity and women’s health issues should take priority over the inclusion of well-to-do females into one of the most exclusive clubs in the U.S. doesn’t belittle the cause, but it does put it in perspective.
From a social point of view, women finally being allowed into the Augusta membership is small potatoes, but from a golf industry point of view, it’s bigger than that because it takes away another weapon to cut at the archaic image of golf that is held by many potential players.
Had golf been more accommodating to females at the private club and grassroots levels, young girls would be interested in the Masters – or next week’s Kraft Nabisco Championship for that matter – to get a glimpse of Rice and Moore in their splendid green jackets.
Then, Brennan could rightfully gush about role models although I suspect if that was the case, it could be argued that the women who grab the attention of young female fans would be the ones playing at the Kraft Nabisco, if it got any attention from the media.
What will get attention in the weeks leading up to the Masters is another example of the exclusion of women in golf.
As the Daily Mail in the U.K. reports here, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club has written to 2,500 current members, recommending that they agree to allow women to join.
This move comes in the wake of the Augusta decision and the controversy last year about Muirfield, the site of the British Open, and its all-male membership, so such the move by the Royal and Ancient seems like a natural progression, even though it’s ridiculous that it’s even happening in 2014.
That will be the prominent message in all of the international attention this issue draws as it’s discussed in a spring meeting and carries over the summer before it’s voted on in the fall.
Some may say the Royal and Ancient going through this process is better late than never, but over the next few months, with the proliferation of media and instant information, such a discussion will once again globally emphasize the commonly-held belief that golf is behind the times.
It’s not an image that the game wants, but it is one that it’s helped create when one of the game’s sacred institutions comes off as struggling in the present.
Like Augusta, acceptance into the Royal and Ancient membership won’t mean much for society as a whole, but it will be a triumph of sorts for powerful women.
The message it sends to a demographic that golf can use in its efforts to grow the game, however, will be one of exclusion over inclusion in the coming months and the international media spotlight that it receives is something the game can do without.