By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
August 24, 2012
80 years after the club opened, and ten years after Martha Burk challenged it’s all-male policy, Augusta National finally admitted its first female members: former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore. The move was a long time coming and was lauded by people waiting for Augusta to break down the gender barrier. However, whatever the reasons were to finally allow women, corporate pressure was not one of them.
More so than any other sports property, Augusta National and the Masters have been rooted in tradition. The club only has three corporate sponsors: AT&T, ExxonMobil, and IBM. It restricts how much commercial time CBS can show to four minutes per hour. In 2003, following the Burk controversy, the Masters broadcast was entirely self-financed and done without commercials. Not because sponsors refused to spend the money, but because Augusta National wanted to protect them from criticism.
What makes the additions of Rice and Moore extra historic is that Augusta National independently realized it was the right things to do. Now, let’s see if it takes another 80 years for the club to host a LPGA event.