A Tradition Like All Others


The big sports event of this past weekend was the Master’s Golf Tournament at Augusta National Golf Course in Augusta, GA. As usual, the hyped advertising slogan included the phrase, “A tradition like no other.” This is especially ironic and basically such a good lie that would make post-modern theorists proud.

In fact, the Master’s is a tradition like nearly all other traditions. It’s run by an all male club that doesn’t allow women to be members and only allowed Blacks membership in 1990. It’s about money and power and exclusivity. According to Wikipedia (I know I’m not elevating my research reputation here), “. . . club co-founder Clifford Roberts is reputed to have said, ‘As long as I’m alive, golfers will be white, and caddies will be black.'”

This year’s Master’s champion got $1,440,000. When Martha Burk tried protesting the tournament in 2004, tournament officials decided to air the entire tournament without commercials. This is just a taste of the money and power linked to these particular links.

Now don’t get me wrong. I like sports. I enjoy golf. I even get excited about watching a bit of the Master’s golf tourney on television. It’s good theater, a beautiful venue, and there are some amazing golfers out there. But it’s a little hard to justify Augusta not allowing women members. . . and I say this not because I think men only and women only organizations shouldn’t exist . . . but because excluding women from something that is so prestigious and so associated with money and power smacks too much of discrimination. When I watch the Master’s I always feel a little dirty. 

And so I’m hoping that one of these years an excellent golfer (think Tiger or Phil) will decide to skip a tourney held at a club that wouldn’t let their daughters, girlfriends, wives, mothers, or grandmothers be members. Somebody besides Martha Burk and this insignificant blogger should take a stand to do the right thing. Please pass this message the next time you bump into a great professional golfer.

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6 thoughts on “A Tradition Like All Others”

  1. The Augusta National Golf Club is not some twisted anti-feminine association that has existed since the beginning of time. It is a club that was founded by men, for men and has earned its reputation on merit and talent over the course of many years by people who excelled in golf, business, politics, and so on. Just because it has earned such a high reputation does not mean that it has an obligation to expand its original policies over new members. Thus it cannot be seen as the fault of the current board of men to not allow women in.

    There is nothing stopping a group of women from founding their own similar club and earning a similar level of fame through their own excellence and talent.

  2. If an exceptionally talented female golfer were to rise up through the ranks and is willing to defend her abilities by playing in the Masters, it is not she who should feel hampered by some private club’s rules, for her pursuits and excellence will continue to live on, but rather it is the institution, the Augusta National, that should the pinch for their own scrutiny. They are the ones who knowingly will put on a show that has left out some of best performers and athletes the world can offer to take part. Thus, as a community, let us subside passing our judgement onto the moral characters of the men who run the board but rather offer the suggestion that this tournament may not be the best golf an audience can enjoy. Thus we let the Augusta National crumble in its own merit as talent grows outside of its own fences.

    To the women golfers, I say to you, look around because all the infrastructure that exists in golf was thought up and created by men who are no better nor smarter than you. The opportunities for you to pave the way for further generations of girls to pick up the game are abundant. Do not let your exclusion from a tournament damper your spirits, because it is not about putting on a performance, it is not about letting an arena define the best, but it is about playing the game and you should continue to do with honor, passion, and the motivation to push the boundaries of excellence that the men before you have set. Those who wish to defend their titles, let them challenge you, and more importantly let the talent challenge the ingrained philosophies of the men who define the realm.

    1. Hello Male Golfer’s Friend.

      Thanks for commenting. I like your idea of challenging women to take advantage of current and future opportunities. We live in very interesting and dynamic times.

      Sincerely,

      John SF

  3. That would be fantastic to see one of the great’s make such a public (and professionally risky) stance on this issue! It seems, to me, the long and short is: if the Masters Tournament was truly concerned in creating the most elite and prestigious gathering of athletes than any personal characteristic outside of athletic ability would be moot. If you apply this thought to the reality of who participates in the Masters then you could conclude either 2 truths: the best golfers are male or perhaps the organization has other priorities?

    Also, it will be interesting to see what happens with this:
    http://abcnews.go.com/Business/masters-tournament-augusta-national-golf-club-admit-female/story?id=16073133#.T42XXqurJ2A

    1. Hi Kim.

      Thanks for your thoughts on this. And for the interesting url. It would be cool if a great athlete stood up and made a statement about this . . . but then again, I suppose there would be lots of blow-back if that happened.

      Thanks,

      John SF

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