LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Men's clubs, in my estimation, are a good thing. And women's clubs. And book clubs. And chess clubs.
Country Clubs aren't my thing, but I have a ton of friends who love them. Same with fraternities. I guess I could never get past the exclusionary part. The point is, it's a big country, and there's room for all of them.
Which brings us to Augusta National. If it were just a golf club in east Georgia, I don't think anybody much would care if it wanted to keep being an all-male club.
But Bobby Jones designed a golf course down there and he and his buddy Clifford Roberts started this golf tournament 78 years ago, and that tournament, The Masters, has become the most prestigious golf tournament in this country, maybe the world.
And when you have something special, so special that the world watches it, it ceases to be your own. It belongs to everybody, in a way.
That's the problem that they've had at Augusta National. Yes, The Masters belongs to that club, but it also belongs to everyone, certainly all golf fans.
That's why the club leadership had to do what it did this week: admit its first two women members.
There are plenty of men's only clubs. But when your club is a custodian of a golf tournament unlike any other, you need to protect that gift. And not allowing women into the club for so many years tarnished it.
So I'm glad that former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina banking executive Darla Moore were welcomed into the club.
I've heard it said that the move was a victory for women. But I believe that's getting the whole thing backward.
Christine Brennan, a USA Today columnist who has long lobbied for this move, hailed the addition of Rice and Moore, saying that when those two received their green members' jackets this fall, "girls watching from around the nation will know - perhaps only subliminally, but they'll see it nonetheless - that someday there might be a place for them in the nation's great corridors of power."
If any of those girls are reading this, I hope they understand, women were just fine without there being female members at Augusta.
Great corridors of power? I think Rice had some experience of those as the U.S. Secretary of State without ever donning a green blazer. Moore didn't have one of those in her considerable wardrobe when she graced the cover of Forbes magazine. She's worth more than the Powerball jackpot many times over. Shoot, she and her husband hold an ownership stake in Pebble Beach.
It's a little insulting to think that the green jacket somehow ratifies such lofty experiences, which were open to young girls no matter what Augusta National did.
This had nothing to do with civil rights. It had nothing to do with "opening up" the game for women. They're not going to have a "Ladies' Masters."
It isn't a step forward for women. It's a step forward for Augusta National.
It wasn't women who were denigrated by Augusta National's closed-door policy, it was the club itself, and its centerpiece golf tournament by extension.
Maybe the leaders at Augusta National realized this. Maybe they just saw an opening to make this move without feeling as if some outside group's pressure prompted it. Maybe they did it just to stop the noise from those groups.
Regardless, the world doesn't change for women, or golf. But for this little club and its golf tournament in Georgia, the world has changed for the better, overdue or not.
Saturday, August 30 2014 3:51 PM EDT2014-08-30 19:51:46 GMT
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