Augusta National Joins 21st Century, Ends Discriminatory Membership Practices

Augusta National Joins 21st Century, Ends Discriminatory Membership PracticesThere are basically two schools of thought behind Augusta National Golf Club’s previous refusal — which ended on Monday — to admit any female members into one of the most exclusive private organizations in America.

The first is that the United States is a country based on freedom of expression and freedom in general, and if there is a privately run club that wants to maintain certain noncriminal practices, no one should be able to force them to do otherwise. It’s their right.

The other thought process is that America is also a place built on equality — or the theory of it, at least — and no one should be denied access to anything based on their gender, creed or sexuality.

The problem is, in the case of the site of golf’s most prestigious major championship, both schools of thought are probably accurate. The club should absolutely be allowed to maintain its membership practices however it wants, but conversely, those membership practices are probably based in a caveman ideology that has no place in this century.

Likewise, there’s probably a grain of truth in the stereotype that Augusta is largely emblematic of a kind of white male privilege that’s more than a little bit repugnant, but that’s not to say activist Martha Burk hasn’t taken political correctness to an equally distasteful extreme.

Nonetheless, this situation played out probably just as it should have. The club was always destined to cave and admit female members, as its place in the public eye just wasn’t tenable given its membership practices. Just as the club has every legal right to maintain its membership however it wants, the other side of the coin has every right to put financial and public opinion pressure on it to force it to change.

Augusta National easily could have continued with its no girls allowed policy, but the longer that continued, the more likely it would be that the Alister MacKenzie-designed course would be putting its place in history in danger.

Take Pebble Beach, Calif.’s famous Cypress Point Club (another MacKenzie design), in the golf-mecca 17-Mile Drive. The club used to be one of golf’s signature courses, annually hosting the Pebble Beach Pro Am and famed for its three spectacular holes along the Pacific Ocean. In 1990 the club was given an ultimatum by the PGA Tour: Admit a black member, or be stripped of the tournament and all future associations. The club decided not to do so, and has since slipped from the national focus — if still being regarded as the most exclusive golf club in the world.

But that route was never really tenable for Augusta. The course and the Masters go hand-in-hand, so what would the club and the course have been without the tournament? In short, no organization in the public eye — whether privately run or not — has the moral authority to practice discrimination in 2012.

It may have been far too long coming, but welcome to the 21st century, Augusta.

Photo of the Night

We can only imagine how this conversation went: “Hi, I’m Josh Hamilton, would you like some sunflower seeds?” “Why yes, yes I would like some sunflower seeds.”

Augusta National Joins 21st Century, Ends Discriminatory Membership Practices

Tweet of the Night

Someone’s clearly been a fan of The Simpsons since the old days. RIP, Phil Hartman.

Quote of the Night

“I let it get to me, even though I tried not to let it. I was trying to protect myself from getting hurt — now I’m just giving it all.”
–Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson revealing that he may not have played at 100 percent effort last year, looking for a contract in the offseason.

Video of the Night

Really? All those tough guys on the field and no one’s just willing to pick it up?

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