The world of golf was abuzz after Augusta National announced that it was admitting its first two female members – Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore – after 80 years as a mens-only club.
Here are what some of the game’s biggest stars had to say:
• DAVIS LOVE III: When asked if had heard the big news upon finishing at the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C., the U.S. Ryder Cup captain smiled and said, “You mean Jason Dufner skipping the Barclays?” When told that the question was about the Augusta National news, he paused for several seconds, smiled and said, “Two good ones.” Asked for further reaction, Love, still smiling, said, “No reaction to that.”
• CARL PETTERSSON: After tying for fourth at Wyndham, on Monday, he said, “It’s probably good. It’s a private club that can do what it wants, but it’s probably about time. It’s their choice. I don’t want to comment too much about it. It’s probably a good thing.”’
• TIM CLARK: “I think it’s great. It’s just a sign of the times. Augusta is a club that always seems to want to progress, and I think it’s about time. It’s a place I love and love going to, so it’s just nice to see them make that move.”
• ANNIKA SORENSTAM (via email): “I was delighted to hear the news this morning that Augusta National has allowed two female members into their club. This is a historic day.”
– What does this mean for women’s golf? “Augusta National and The Masters play such an important role in the game of golf. Of course The Masters Tournament is one of the premier tournaments in the world, but they also help grow the game throughout the year with various initiatives. This is a very important step for women in the game.”
– What are your thoughts on Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore as the first female members? “Condoleezza and Darla are highly respected women and business leaders. They will be great representatives for women in the game.”
• MIKE WHAN (in a statement): “Congratulations to Condoleezza and Darla for their entry into Augusta National membership. We hope that this step forward leads to many more for women within the game of golf.”
• PGA TOUR STATEMENT: “The PGA Tour commends Augusta National Golf Club on the news that it has invited Condoleezza Rice and Darla Moore to become its first women members. At a time when women represent one of the fastest growing segments in both playing and following the game of golf, this sends a positive and inclusive message for our sport.”
• GRAEME McDOWELL: “It’s positive, of course. I’ve only heard great things about Condoleezza Rice. She enjoys her golf, loves her golf. She’s going to be a super ambassador I’m sure for Augusta as a female member. I think it’s just fantastic for the game and the development of the game and just a bigger picture, really. I think it just ticks the boxes, just kind of rounds off the portfolio that Augusta National needs to be showing.”
• IAN POULTER: “I think it’s great. Obviously they’ve been under the pressure. The question was asked year in and year out, when are they going to change their policy. So now they’ve made a point to let lady members in their 200-plus-members club. I think it’s fantastic. I know one of the two. I think it’s a great addition, and obviously it stops that question which they keep getting asked every single year. ”
– Does it help golf? “Yeah, I think it does. It’s a good thing for golf to have lady members in clubs like that. Golf’s changed, and I think people’s opinions have changed and I think it’s right for golf. It’s a good move.”
• PEGGY KIRK BELL: Speaking from Pine Needles Golf Resort, which she owns, in Southern Pines, N.C. (she won the 1949 Titleholders Championship at Augusta Country Club):
“That’s terrific. Two great choices,” adding that Condi Rice is “a pioneer.”
• CAROL SEMPLE THOMPSON: “I’m glad Augusta has finally done it to put it to rest. I think they’ve chosen two terrific candidates, so I think it’s all positive.”
– Strides for women’s golf? Traction on the women’s side? “I don’t think it’s a huge move for women’s golf in general. I don’t see sports or the LPGA blossoming in any huge way and I don’t think that is going to affect that a whole lot. I’d like to see people come out and follow women playing golf and be more interested in it.
“I think it’s great that Augusta has done it, but I don’t think it’s going to change women’s golf in a huge way.
I just think it’s a good thing for Augusta to do because they’re so visible in the world of golf and they should have women in there.”