Augusta didn't solve women's participation problem
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Condoleezza Rice & Darla Moore, in pictures
A look at Augusta National's first two female members.
Pardon me for sounding like a contrarian, but let's be honest about Augusta National Golf Club and the admission of Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as members.
Augusta National is a private club and can admit anyone it chooses. There was a time when Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and at the time the world's richest man, lobbied for an invitation to join Augusta National. There were signs of initial rebuke, although later he became a member.
The two new members happen to be women, but it's not the gender that matters. The really important part of this equation is the adjective that applies to Rice and Moore: powerful.
Augusta National has a membership composed largely of wealthy, influential individuals. This points to one reason we should get real about the significance of Rice and Moore joining the boys' club: Augusta National is not like other golf clubs. To suggest that golf is changing because two females have cracked the fraternity's gender barrier is naive and simplistic.
For the good of the game, what golf needs is more participation by women and girls. I'm talking about ordinary females, not the movers and shakers who dine with diplomats and industrialists.
For the good of the game, what golf needs is shorter, easier, more affordable courses so all beginners or neophytes (men, women, boys and girls) won't be permanently discouraged.
For the good of the game, what golf needs is ruling bodies that focus on how much fun the sport can be. The U.S. Golf Association and the R & A spend too much time in prohibitive mode. They are experts at outlawing this, banning that, or limiting the performance of some article of golf equipment.
We should be discussing golf here on planet earth, not in the rarified air of Augusta National, where members walk around the Masters with green jackets that further distinguish them from the masses of people who aren't quite so lucky.
We should be consumed with expanding golf on a grassroots level. We should be inventing new ways to enlarge the game. We should be discussing the real obstacles that exist within our wonderful, irreplaceable sport.
The composition of the Augusta National membership represents a diversion, not a solution.
To be fair, it must be noted that Augusta National contributes millions of dollars each year to support the growth of golf. The club should be applauded loudly for its efforts.
Meanwhile, all of us should concentrate on encouraging more golfers to have more fun, no matter where they play. Far, far away from the greenery of Augusta National, golf has problems and predicaments that deserve our attention.