Augusta National OKs 1st female members, including Condoleezza Rice

August 20, 2012|By Houston Mitchell

Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters tournament, admitted the first female members in its 80-year history Monday: former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore.

"This is a joyous occasion," Augusta National chairman Billy Payne told the Associated Press. "These accomplished women share our passion for the game of golf and both are well known and respected by our membership. It will be a proud moment when we present Condoleezza and Darla their green jackets when the club opens this fall.

"This is a significant and positive time in our club's history and, on behalf of our membership, I wanted to take this opportunity to welcome them and all of our new members into the Augusta National family," Payne said.

The Georgia club, closed for the summer, opens again in October.

Augusta National came under heavy scrutiny in 2002 when Martha Burk of the National Council of Women's Organizations urged the club to include women among its members. Then-club chairman Hootie Johnson said Augusta would not be forced into admitting a female member "at the point of a bayonet."

Payne took over as chairman in 2006.

Augusta National, which opened in December 1932 and did not have a black member until 1990, is believed to have about 300 members. Although the club until now had no female members, women were allowed to play the golf course as guests, including on the Sunday before Masters week began in April.

Rice was the national security adviser under former President George W. Bush and became secretary of state in his second term.

"I have visited Augusta National on several occasions and look forward to playing golf, renewing friendships and forming new ones through this very special opportunity," Rice said. "I have long admired the important role Augusta National has played in the traditions and history of golf. I also have an immense respect for the Masters Tournament and its commitment to grow the game of golf, particularly with youth, here in the United States and throughout the world."

Moore first rose to prominence in the 1980s with Chemical Bank, where she became the highest-paid woman in the banking industry. She was the first female to be profiled on the cover of Fortune magazine.

"Augusta National has always captured my imagination, and is one of the most magically beautiful places anywhere in the world, as everyone gets to see during the Masters each April," Moore said. "I am fortunate to have many friends who are members at Augusta National, so to be asked to join them as a member represents a very happy and important occasion in my life.

"Above all, Augusta National and the Masters tournaments have always stood for excellence, and that is what is so important to me."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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