Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

An Issue That Won't Fade for Augusta Golf Club

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

An Issue That Won't Fade for Augusta Golf Club

Article excerpt

Fans were still talking about whether the club, which holds the Masters, should change its policy and allow women to join.

The Masters tournament is over, but the most talked-about issue of the past week -- the lack of female members at Augusta National Golf Club -- seems likely to linger.

Virginia Rometty, the I.B.M. chief executive, was seen on the club's grounds Sunday and is believed to have entertained clients at the club Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Rometty was not wearing a green jacket, which is the traditional attire of club members. She wore pink. Historically, the chief executive of I.B.M. -- one of the three lead corporate sponsors of the Masters -- has been invited to join Augusta National. The lack of an invitation for Rometty and the absence of female members of the club brought significant discussion during the week; even President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the likely Republican presidential nominee, said the club should admit women.

That Rometty was able to elude fans and the news media for so long is perhaps not surprising. Unlike at many other golf events, there is not a large corporate village at Augusta National, so it is believed that I.B.M. officials welcomed clients at a cabin secluded on the back nine of the golf course.

Billy Payne, the club's chairman, avoided the issue in a news conference that turned contentious last week, but even Sunday, as the leaders were moving toward the back nine, there were still strong feelings on both sides among many of the spectators.

"I understand the history behind it -- guys started it," Jillian Hayes, a freshman at the University of South Carolina, said while sitting along the ninth fairway. "But I think if the lawmakers of our country are going to proclaim that women are going to be equivalent in sports, then they should definitely follow through on it in terms of practical application in real life."

Hank and Patti Goodwin, who live in Augusta, disagreed. "My feelings are that it's a private club and they can do what they want," Hank Goodwin said. …

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